Dance/Movement Therapy: Accessing the Language of the Body
Movement defines us from the first kick in our mother’s womb till our final breath, and we participate in a dance of life, communicating through our bodies long before we learn to speak using verbal language. Throughout our lives, body language remains our most natural means of recognizing our needs and expressing ourselves. The famous modern dancer, Martha Graham once said “There is a vitality, a life-force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. AND if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and be lost.”
I welcome this opportunity to share with Real Deal readers about dance/movement therapy (dmt), a therapeutic method that recognizes the importance of connecting body and mind by facilitating transformation of everyday movements into expressive communication. For the past twenty years, I have provided dmt for women at the Renfrew Center of Florida to help them become whole again and reclaim the vitality that their eating disorder has robbed them of. Although I will be focusing on dmt with individuals with eating disorders, I think it will become clear that the premise I am promoting can apply in more general terms also to all individuals in relation to body image perceptions as well as the experience of living in one ‘s body.
Many individuals with eating disorders have difficulty experiencing feelings and articulating meaningful thoughts. Their tendency to cover deep feelings through intellectualization creates a void, leaving them without connection to their life forces, numbing their experience of life or causing an excess of feelings to emerge – often creating overwhelming anxiety.
As a dance/movement therapist, I help individuals with ED re – establish connection with their body by experiencing and expressing feelings and identifying how their emerging awareness parallels and reflects their own unique behavioral patterns. These patterns are then used to heighten awareness of their ability to understand themselves more fully. Insights spring to the surface because of the visual and experiential clarity inherent in the movement metaphors and, together, we explore these experiences through both nonverbal and verbal reflection.
Dance/movement therapists are specifically trained to help individuals:
• Experience a stronger connection with their body.
• Experience, rather then suppress feelings and body sensations.
• Develop the ability to trust their feelings and sensations.
• Explore what they are communicating through their body language.
• Discover the connection between how they move through life and the problems they are facing.
• Facilitate processing of the non-verbal metaphors and emerging feelings that will lead to insights and new coping skills.
Whether it is not knowing how to tell their story, fear of not being understood, or a reluctance to speak the unspeakable, many individuals( both with and without ED s ) have difficulty expressing themselves. Words and traditional psychotherapy alone may not be enough. In dance/movement therapy, communication is always possible.
I hope I have interested you in learning more about dmt and look forward to mutual sharing on the Real Deal.
Photo courtesy of http://www.dancepsych.com/dancearticles.htm