Archive for the ‘eating disorders’ Category

I am in Lexington, Kentucky this weekend, attending the premiere performances of The Girl Project.

In the words of the creators…

The Girl Project is a highly original performance piece incorporating spoken word, poetry, movement, dance and multi-media. This original work was written by 18 teenage girls culminating from workshops throughout the year with guest artists from around the nation. These nation wide teaching artists explored topics of identity, power, sexuality, beauty, history and more to inspire these teenage girls to share their personal experiences and struggles with body image, self-esteem, objectification and oppression within their schools, in the media and beyond.”

Tonight, at the preview performance, I witnessed a collaborative theatrical production of such importance, such relevance, such power – with brilliant girls who are incredibly brave and inspiring in their authenticity, vulnerability and conviction. A theatre project for teen girls of the caliber of Eve Ensler’s Vagina Monologues, this performance will resonate with women of all ages and will evoke self reflection in men and women alike. Mark my words – The Girl Project will be on a stage in your town someday. This is theatre in its most powerful form – alchemical and transformative for both performer and audience.

If you are within driving distance of Lexington, Kentucky this weekend, go see this show.

The article and video below provides behind the scenes insight into the ensemble’s creative process. Expect to see more press about this project.

It is a revolution in the making.

The Girl Project: art meets activisim not just for girls


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Once a year, dance/movement therapists from around the world congregate at the American Dance Therapy Association’s Annual Conference, hosted each year in a different city in the United States. This year will mark the 47th Annual event, Exploring Vistas and Soaring to New Heights: Dance/Movement Therapy 2012 and Beyond. It promises to bring hundreds of clinicians and dozens of grad students to Albuquerque, New Mexico in October.

Perhaps comparing attendance at a professional conference to entering a candy store seems a mismatched metaphor to some, but for this dance/movement therapist it is right on target. The only downside to the conference each year is that I cannot clone myself to attend multiple seminars at once. I really wish I could clone myself. No, really, I do.

When I attended the Evolution of Psychotherapy Conference in 2009 (a MASSIVE conference with over 7000 attendees) I listened to current leaders in psychology and medicine – Ernest Rossi, Daniel Siegel, Bessel van der Kolk, Eugene Gendlin, Deepak Chopra, Andrew Weil, among others – all address the mindbody connection in their work. It was gratifying to hear each of them acknowledge the role of the body in healing and it was uplifting to know that so many other scholars with significantly larger audiences are researching and applying concepts that have always been central to dance/movement therapy practice and theory. Oh, the fruit that could be produced from widespread research collaboration between psychologists, neuroscientists and dance/movement therapists! That day is coming, I feel it. But it can’t come soon enough.

In the meantime, I am extraordinarily proud to have earned the title of board-certified dance/movement therapist and to stand among my colleagues who advance our field and thereby also deepen an understanding of the mindbody connection that informs all approaches to healing. It brings me joy to call attention to the work of my peers and to further emphasize the advanced scholarship and clinical skills that are necessary to call oneself “dance/movement therapist.” (If this is the first post you are reading from my blog, I invite you to read “An Invitation to Those Making the World a Better Place Through Dance” to understand precisely what is required to earn that title.)

In the service of calling attention to the work of my peers, allow me to provide a glimpse into the candy store awaiting conference attendees in October in New Mexico. The conference is open to all. If you are a mental health clinician of any variety and seeking continuing education or even an aspiring student (in dance, in psychology, in social work, etc) our doors are open. Most workshops will be a combination of lecture, discussion and experiential work. There is even a special pre-conference interactive intensive for non-dance/movement therapists (allied professionals and students) to personally and kinesthetically be introduced to basic concepts of dance/movement therapy so that the conference workshops will be more meaningful.

A sampling:

Dance/Movement Therapists and Schools in Collaboration A Multi-Cultural, Embodied Approach to Violence Prevention with Rena Kornblum

Photo courtesy

Beat the Odds: Social/Emotional Skill Building Delivered in a Framework of Drumming and Movement with Ping Ho and Kathy Cass

A Closer Examination of Repetitive Movement and Healing Trauma: Why DMT has Psychology’s Attention with Patricia Lucas

The Dance of Attunement: Utilizing Dance/Movement Therapy to Develop Skills for Affect Regulation with Children with Rebecca Finnoff

The Use of Dance/ Movement Therapy in Dialectal Behavior Therapy (DBT) with Luke Addington

Mutuality in Motion: Integrating Movement Within the Child-Parent Psychotherapy Model to Restore Healthy Attachment with Nancy Toncy

Dance Cuba! Dance/Movement Therapists’ Cross Cultural Collaboration in Cuba with Christina Devereaux

Dance/movement therapy group. Courtesy of ADTA.

Dancing with People with Dementia: Expanding the Roles of Dance/Movement Therapists with Donna Newman-Bluestein

These are but just a few of the 49 workshops and intensives being offered at the 47th Annual ADTA Conference. You can read about the workshops above and others here. And if you are Facebook-inclined (who isn’t?) you can get updates, photos and more at the ADTA Conference Facebook page. (Oh, and I’ve been invited to present a half day intensive on Zumba Fitness® Through the Lens of Dance/Movement Therapy. More on that later …) You can also read the bios of all the presenters here, which I highly recommend if you want to get a glimpse into who dance/movement therapists are and what we do. Our work is quite diverse and I am fascinated by the unique career paths dance/movement therapists find themselves on. I think you will be too.

(Last updated/edited September 9, 2012.)

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Today I stood in front of my classroom of 93 college students and taught my lecture on nonverbal communication wearing no make-up.

An act worthy of a Congressional Badge of Bravery or just another day at the office? I guess that depends…

To many women, the mere idea of being in the spotlight wearing no make-up might instigate sensations not entirely unlike a panic attack.

To others, fewer in number likely, the idea of going au naturel is not out of the ordinary at all but an embraced way of life.

And to the men — well, they have never had to contemplate whether they could walk about the world make-up free, have they? Because men are “good enough,” as is. Or, at least, their eyelashes, skin tone and cheek color are good enough, as is. Ahhh… the double standard – a rich topic worthy of many an hour of discussion! I would love nothing other than to have that conversation over lattes with The Beauty Myth author, Naomi Wolf, herself! Someday perhaps …

But back to today:
Why did I choose to appear in public sans make-up?

This week (Feb 26- Mar 3) is National Eating Disorder Awareness Week and today marked the start of “Barefaced and Beautiful, Within and Without,” a national campaign dedicated to promoting healthy body image. This campaign is sponsored by The Renfrew Center, a leader in the field of eating disorder treatment since 1985.

This campaign invites women everywhere to join together for one day and go make-up free to “promote a greater understanding that real beauty and self-esteem truly begin within.”

A noble goal, sure, but what does make-up have to do with eating disorder awareness?

Susan Kleinman, a board-certified dance/movement therapist with decades of experience treating individuals with eating disorders, speaks to this connection at length in the article, “The Connection Between Make-up and Mental Health.”

In a nutshell, people who suffer from an eating disorder also contend with a negative body image. A recent survey done by the Renfrew Center showed that almost half of women polled voiced negative feelings about themselves when they go without make-up. Kleinman distinguished between make-up worn as an accessory and makeup worn as a mask, perhaps concealing underlying feelings of inadequacy and shame.

There can be a connection and Kleinman connects the dots articulately in the article.

I’ll fess up. I was a bit anxious as this day approached. But just a little. My husband laughed at me lovingly as I did “not” get ready for work and told me I was beautiful. I told him he was very smart.

When I actually walked into my classroom today, make-up free, I had more confidence than when I walked in on the first day of the semester all dolled up to make a good first impression. On this day, at this point in my life, addressing my students bare-faced didn’t faze me.

But had I been sitting in one of those chairs as my 20 year old self, I don’t think I could have participated in the campaign. I certainly could not have when I was a teenager. High school and college were the years that I, myself, was battling my own eating disorder, bulimia. Those were the days when I would actually miss mandatory classes because I perceived myself “too fat” to be in front of other people – a dock to my permanent grade was excruciating but somehow less painful than letting others see me when I “knew” I looked disgusting.

When I remember that young woman, I wish I could go back in time and hug her. I wish I could look her in the eyes and convey to her that there is a way out of the cage. I wish I could tell her that she will someday be me, a woman who loves her body just as it is and loves herself, just as she is.

As I walked to my car after the class ended today I had a spring to my step. It was cold and windy and the rain had just stopped – the clouds hid any ray of sunshine. But I was invigorated. I felt light and the world around me looked glorious. I felt glorious.

Everyone across the country who participated today will have a unique and emotionally complex experience to reflect upon, undoubtedly. But my experience on this day was one of victory. Knowing on an embodied level, at long last, that I am enough because of WHO I AM rather than WHAT I look like is a triumph. It has been a long time coming.

I teach again tomorrow. I think I’ll forego the makeup one more day and enjoy 15 more minutes of sleep.

You know what, L’ Oréal? I’m worth it.

Barefaced and Beautiful, Without and Within!

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This is a wonderful and rare opportunity to study, in depth, a component of the LivingDance~LivingMusic TM approach to dance/movement therapy, pioneered by Danielle Fraenkel, Ph.D., BC-DMT, NCC, LCAT, LMHC, CGP. This opportunity is even more special for those of us in California as Dr. Fraenkel lives in Rochester, New York. Her dance/movement therapy studio, Kinections, just celebrated its 25th year anniversary. Congratulations!

I had the privilege of studying under her for a year and a half during my post-graduate internship and am delighted that she will be offering this workshop in my backyard.

One of the exciting aspects of her work is that she has developed a theoretical framework for dance/movement therapy that is grounded in the inherent healing of dance, itself. You can learn more about this theory, specifically as it pertains to the use of breath, at the workshop below.

Breath and Somato Respiratory Integration™
Sources of Expression, Self-Awareness,
and Self-Acceptance —Part I

December 5, 2009 — 9:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
December 6, 2009 — 9:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.

Danielle Fraenkel, Ph.D., BC-DMT, NCC, LCAT, LMHC, CGP
Jeffrey Mehr, MA, musician

Course Description:
Students will learn how LivingDance~LivingMusic™ uses The Twelve Stages of Somato Respiratory Integration to generate here and now dances that shed light on the individual’s relationships to self and others. By working with the interactions among breath, touch, and movement, students will see how a theory of dance/movement therapy can be grounded in dance and how neurobiology, music, and dance affect one another. Developed originally for adults with eating disorders, this approach has been used in a variety of settings from partial hospitalization for the mentally ill to normal neurotics seeking to self-actualize. Live music.

• Students who complete the requirements for Part I will receive 1.5 credits towards certification in dance/movement therapy or 22.5 hours of continuing education.
• Students who also complete the requirements for Part II of this course will be eligible for a total of 3 credits towards certification in dance/movement therapy, 45 hours of continuing education and 3 credits towards qualifying to be a facilitator of LivingDance~LivingMusic.

Dr. Danielle Fraenkel, director of Kinections℠, creator of LivingDance™ and published author, leads LivingDance~LivingMusic groups locally, nationally, and internationally.

Jeffrey Mehr, M.A., writer, poet, and photographer, has played piano since he was four and practiced Taijiquan for more than thirty years. His LivingMusic stems from these two disciplines. The dancers power the playing.


California State University, Long Beach, CA 90840 (Dance Department)

Questions: kinectionsinfo@kinections.com
In California: Lora Wilson Mau, R-DMT, writelora@hotmail.com

Your Investment
$325.00 Visa and MasterCard accepted. Click HERE for Credit Card form.
Checks or money orders are payable to Kinections. Mail to:
Kinections, at Imagine Square, 718 University Avenue, Rochester, NY 14607
(Check one) I have enclosed a bank check____ money order____ , or credit card information____ for $325.00 for
LivingDance~LivingMusic: Breath and SomatoRespiratory™ Integration as Sources of Expression, Self-Awareness, and Self-Acceptance, December 5-6, 2009.
I have FAXed _____credit card information indicating that I give you permission to charge_______ dollars to my credit card account for the above course of study.
Card Type_______________________________ Number _______________________________
Exp: Date:_______________


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How does dance/movement therapy benefit those living with Parkinson’s disease or Alzheimer’s disease or Autism? What does the research say about the application of dance/movement therapy with trauma or eating disorders? How is dance/movement therapy used with children? The elderly?

These are great questions, readily addressed in two-page flyers created by the Public Relations Committee of the American Dance Therapy Association. There are great photos of dance/movement therapists in action on each sheet, in addition to a summary of the work in that context, along with a short bibliographies documenting current related research. Donna Newman Bluestein, Public Relations Chairperson for the ADTA, has provided easy to follow links to each of these compelling information sheets. Curious? Check them out at her blog: Musings of a Dance/Movement Therapist.

Feel free to read and/or print and share with loved ones or colleagues. Previously these were only available to members of the ADTA as inservice materials but are now accessible for all who are interested in learning more about the work. Pass them on!

(And if you are interested in the use of dance/movement therapy with other populations or diagnoses, just ask. More flyers are in the works and I can always point you in the direction of books and journal articles pertaining to your area of interest.)

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