I get that question all the time.
“What sort of dance steps do you teach?”
“Can you show me what dance therapy looks like?”
Actually, I can’t. Not really. I can show you examples of interventions that might be used but even those would shift and morph during the therapeutic process.
Dance/movement therapy is not about a product, it is about a process. Every DMT session looks different, begins differently, ends differently. The pioneer of modern day dance/movement therapy, Marian Chace, had a commandment, if you will: Start where the patient is at. In that regard, DMT could be considered person-centered (if you are at all familiar with the Carl Rogers’ perspective on psychotherapy.)
The dance/movement therapist begins the session by “attuning” to where the patient or client is, physically and emotionally, and choreographing the overall development of the session based on what the client brings to the process moment by moment.
One session might start with breathwork and an outsider observer might not even realize a session is in progress because the experience is happening so internally for the client. Another session might involve moving different body parts to the pulse of music. The possibilities are endless – as endless as movement and creativity itself. It all depends on the goals of the session and where the client “is” on that particular day.
I chose the photo above because it does visually capture a component of our work, an intervention or technique called “mirroring.” I’ll write more about that technique in the next post, but in the meantime, just look at the photo for a bit and imagine moving your hands with a partner who reflects back to you exactly your quality of movement. Try it if you want. Grab a friend or your significant other and play – maybe put on some relaxing music and have one person move for a few minutes while the other person tries to capture your movement. Discover for yourself a taste of what it is like to move in total connection with another. Feel free to respond if you like here – what it was like for you, what you noted, felt, discovered. In my next entry I’ll share how we use this technique professionally and how other experts are claiming as a “new therapeutic intervention” what we have been doing for decades.
Have you danced today?