Posts Tagged ‘embodiment’

Another amazing continuing education opportunity this month in Los Angeles, relevant to psychotherapists, psychoanalysts, movement therapists, nurses and all those interested in exploring the interrelationship between psyche and body. Hope to see you there!

(Text below is from the New Center for PsychoAnalysis Website.)

Anne Alvarez describes Katya Bloom’s work as the ability to recognize and describe the importance of “flow” in the body. Dr. Bloom attempts to understand what happens within and to the body even when the patient is lying immobile on the couch. Dr. Bloom presents what movement theory and therapy can offer psychoanalysis and vice-versa. Clinical and observational material is presented by THRIVE members and discussed by Dr. Bloom.

Course Objectives
– Understand how movement analysis enhances the analyst/therapist’s grasp of early states of mind as expressed through the body
– Grasp basic fundamentals of Laban Movement Analysis (LMA) and awaken the psychoanalysts’ ability to attune to unthought or unverbalized communication
– Foster a meaningful dialogue between movement psychotherapy and psychoanalytic theory and technique

Katya Bloom, Ph.D., BC-DMT, CMA, is a movement psychotherapist in private practice in London. She is author of The Embodied Self: Movement and Psychoanalysis (Karnac, 2006). She has studied Infant Observation at the Tavistock Clinic in London. Her 2008 paper, “The Movement of Thought: Interdisciplinary Approaches to Mind and Body,” will appear in the International Journal of Infant Observation, summer 2009.

The THRIVE Infant-Family Program is co-sponsoring this event. THRIVE members are psychoanalysts whose goals are understanding the emotional life of the infant and helping infants and parents thrive in their conversation and communication. Directors: Julie McCaig, PhD and Paulene Popeck, PhD. Founding Members: Ethan Grumbach, PhD, Naomi Lieberman, PsyD, Vladimir Lipovetsky, MD and Erna Osterweil, PhD.

The New Center for Psychoanalysis and the Center for Parenting Studies are co-sponsoring this event with THRIVE. Click on the link for easy, on-line registration using your credit card or check.

Communicative Movement and The Embodiment Of Experience: The Link between Movement & Psychoanalysis
Saturday, January 23, 2010
9AM–12 PM CE/CME Credits: 3
New Center for Psychoanalysis
$50 pre-registration; $55 at the door


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Always the question…. “How would you do dance/movement therapy with {fill in the blank}? What would that look like? What would you do?”

Perhaps I can give you a glimpse.

As a reminder before you read of this particular experience, every session looks different. It is influenced by the goals and capabilities of the client, and emerges from what the client brings into the room – where the client is at the present moment. The dance/movement therapist’s first job is to be present with the client from the moment he or she enters the room, 100% attuned to what the client says, verbally and nonverbally, and to then build from that foundation, always taking cues from the client and essentially choreographing a therapeutic movement experience as it unfolds in the present moment.

I have graciously been given permission to share an experience with a dance/movement therapy intervention, under the cloak of anonymity. While all aspects of the session cannot be captured in words (how does one communicate verbally what is essentially nonverbal?) I hope to paint you a picture of what dance/movement therapy in fact DID look like on one occasion with a young woman who was in therapy simply for deeper self-awareness. I welcome your comments and questions if you are so moved…


The dance/movement therapist sensed tension the moment the client (let’s call her Abby) walked into the room – it was present in her body language and the tonality of her voice, underneath the superficial pleasant verbal greeting.

After Abby had found a comfortable seated position on the floor, the therapist simply asked Abby – without thinking about it – to make a short gesture or movement. Anything. “Don’t think about it, just do it.”

Abby, without a second thought, quickly extended both her arms into the space in front of her, just about head level. She also, without thinking about it, yelled a short “aaaagh!” as she pushed her arms out with great force.

The room was quiet as the therapist allowed the expression to be fully acknowledged. She then asked Abby to repeat the movement but to now do it slowly…

As Abby began slowly and silently pushing her hands out in front of her, with just as much intensity and strength as before but without the speed, she immediately understood what she was doing and why. She did not verbally state any of this at the time, just made a mental note of the insight and continued exploring as the therapist directed her.

You see, there had been a death in Abby’s family just 10 days prior and she had been acting as the “strong” one, the support person for everyone else. She had not really given herself an outlet to express her own grief because she was trying to hold everything for everybody else. (Again, Abby did not verbalize any of this while it was happening but was able to recount it and other insights after the movement experience was over.)

When Abby slowly pushed her arms out in front of her, using great strength, her immediate thought was “Noooo More!”

Witnessing Abby’s movement, the therapist gently suggested that she repeat the movement over and over, slowly, fully experiencing the nuances of it.

As Abby did this, pushing her arms out, slowly bringing them back in and then pushing them out again and again and again, always strong…. another cognitive insight occurred. She realized that this was exactly what she had been doing for the past week and a half: pushing her emotions away, back, out. Holding them at bay. And using great energy and exertion to do so. Her arms were getting tired and she realized how exhausted she was and had been all week.

After a few minutes of exploring this particular movement with her arms, the therapist invited Abby to let another part of her body take on that movement – to do the same “movement” with another body part, whatever that looked like, and that there was no right or wrong way to do so. (This is a perfect example of how the movement is ultimately determined by the client and dictated by his or her unconscious.)

Abby – because she had a strong kinesthetic awareness from years of dance training and experience with dance/movement therapy – realized that her initial movement had only involved her arms and wasn’t connecting at all to her torso. It wasn’t initiating from her core. She recognized this in itself was an emotional defense. When the therapist invited her to take this movement into another body part, she closed her eyes and chose to “play” with it through her torso, slowly moving her chest forward ever so slowly and subtly. When she made that choice, in the moment, she had no idea where it would go, how it would evolve or what it would make her feel. She just made a choice to explore pushing forward with her torso. (Someone else might have chosen a shoulder or a leg or a head gesture.)

To repeat the movement as the therapist suggested, she had to allow her chest to sink back. And thus, as she repeated this motion – the motion that had unconsciously emerged in her arm movement – she just slowly moved her torso back and forth… and it slowly evolved into a continual gentle rocking motion.

The image that immediately popped into Abby’s head – that emerged from feeling this motion in her body – was that of images she had seen on television, of Middle Eastern women, grieving, wearing all black and rocking back and forth, wailing.

The therapist invited Abby to let a dialogue ensue between the original movement and the second motion.

As Abby alternated between slowly pushing her arms out and then rocking her torso, she realized that she needed to make space in her own life to grieve the loss of the family member. The pushing away with her arms now became a gesture of creating space TO FEEL, instead of to not feel.

As she realized this, Abby just let herself rock slowly back and forth, the tears silently pouring down her cheeks.

The therapist eventually asked Abby to find an ending posture that felt right and Abby gradually rocked forward, nearing her head closer and closer to the floor until she settled into a position that resembled Child’s Pose in yoga. This position also triggered an image of a Middle Eastern woman, grieving – embodying her grief.

And Abby, for the first time in ten days since her family member’s passing, allowed herself to finally weep in the presence of another.

These insights perhaps could have been arrived at through “talk” therapy, but most likely Abby would have remained “in her head,” talking about the fact that she was holding feelings back. The act of moving her body accessed her emotions and unconscious directly. No verbal defenses. Her present truth simply emerged and she was grateful for it.

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