Posts Tagged ‘mirroring’

I could write an infinite number of blog posts with this very title and each one quite possibly could include video or movement description unlike any of the posts before it. That said, there is a video currently circulating the social media sphere that has beautiful footage of dance/movement therapy.

It is worth every moment of the seven minutes it takes to watch it and I have linked it below for your viewing convenience.

As a preface, I must remind you of some basic truths of dance/movement therapy:

Neither the dance/movement therapist nor the client knows ahead of time what will transpire in the impending session. Even within a structured format, the experience is unpredictable. Guided by the present moment, the process is unique to the persons involved, their needs and the treatment goals.

Dance/movement therapy is an improvised process – both 1:1 and in a group setting. It begins “where the client is at.” Ten dance/movement therapy sessions with the same person might start differently each time and may “look” different each time. Dance/movement therapists respond to the movement and words (yes, dance/movement therapy involves talking too!) that emerge in the PRESENT MOMENT. The present moment is beautiful, mysterious, surprising… It can be extremely powerful and it is worth every bit of attention it is given.

I must also underscore that dance/movement therapy is NOT a dance “class.” This is a distinction that is growing ever more important to convey as more and more people worldwide declare dance or Zumba®, for example, as their “therapy.” Dance is ABSOLUTELY therapeutic and inherently healing. But “dance/movement therapy” is a clinical practice, facilitated by trained mental health clinicians with masters or doctoral degrees. It is essential that this distinction be understood and observed. (Please see An Invitation to Those Making the World A Better Place Through Dance for further clarification on that distinction.)

by Corporación Dunna -alternativas

Below is wonderful footage of dance/movement therapy being introduced into cities in Colombia to counter the trauma of violence and conflict and to facilitate empathy and connection. The movement is interspersed with brief interviews with the facilitators and students learning the methods. (It is in Spanish but has English subtitles. Even so, movement is a universal language and the dancing speaks volumes regardless of your native language.)

So, as I declare “YES! This is what dance/movement therapy looks like!” I simultaneously ask that you remember that other dance/movement therapy sessions do NOT look like this. (In fact, if you’d like to compare and contrast two very different videos, please see my previous post to view dance/movement therapy with hospitalized children.)

As you watch this video, perhaps questions will arise for you:
What is happening?
How does that process evolve?
How is it not a “class”? It looks like a class…
(I intend to dedicate an entire post to answering this particular question so stay tuned…)

I would genuinely love to answer your questions. Please don’t hesitate to ask them in the comments section. If YOU have that question, somebody else likely does too. 🙂 Ask away.

by Corporación Dunna -alternativas

Dance/Movement Therapy as a tool for achieving peaceful coexistence and reconciliation in 5 vulnerable cities in Colombia


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This is the question every dance/movement therapist gets – often.

For many people, “dance” is associated with ballet and tutus… or jazz hands and pom poms… or grinding on the nightclub floor. How would that way of moving be a psychotherapy, they wonder. While each of those dance expressions (and dozens more) are valid in their own right, they are not to be expected in a dance/movement therapy session.

One of the challenges of actually showing people what DMT looks like is the fact that DMT is done with patients and clients, not students. There are HIPAA privacy laws and rules of confidentiality and ethical considerations. Dance/movement therapy is a psychotherapy and crucial to the success of any therapy session is an atmosphere of psychological safety – a “safe space” within which to explore thoughts, feelings and the unconscious. A video camera with a red, glowing light does little to engender that feeling of safety.

But once in awhile, permission is granted to video and the resulting footage can go a long way to shedding light on our work.

Below is one such video.

Dr. Lori Baudino, a clinical psychologist and board-certified dance/movement therapist, pioneered the development of the first dance/movement therapy program at Mattel Children’s Hospital at UCLA. (I have also had the distinct pleasure of serving alongside Dr. Baudino on the Board of Directors for the California Chapter of the ADTA.)

In this video, Dr. Baudino explains how she uses dance/movement therapy, one on one, with children in the hospital. The footage might surprise you – the work is subtle. She comments about this, too, in her narrative. There are wonderful clips of Dr. Baudino establishing and building relationship with the children through attuning to their movements. Interspersed with the clips, she explains what she does.

Key to dance/movement therapy (as opposed to a dance class or a Zumba™ class) is the therapeutic relationshiop that exists between therapist and client. All movement expression that occurs does so within that relationship. Movement communicates. Dance communicates. The dance/movement therapist is uniquely trained to understand that communication, facilitate it and deepen it.

Surprised by anything in the video? Curious? Intrigued? Feel free to comment and I’m happy to continue a dialogue or answer any of your questions.

Also, if you’d like to read more about the use of dance/movement therapy in the medical field, the current President of the ADTA, Dr. Sherry Goodill, has written a comprehensive book on the subject: An Introduction to Medical Dance/Movement Therapy – Healing in Motion. It’s an amazing feat of scholarship. If you’d like to take a look inside her book, click here.

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How is dance/movement therapy connected to the field of counseling?

Who can benefit from dance/movement therapy? Do you have to be a dancer to work with a dance/movement therapist?

How do dance/movement therapists connect with children with autism?

What sort of training does a dance/movement therapist have? What’s the difference between a registered dance/movement therapist (R-DMT) and a board certified dance/movement therapist (BC-DMT?)

Find out the answers from the ever articulate Christina Devereaux, MA, BC-DMT, NCC, spokesperson for the American Dance Therapy Association. Recently interviewed by Kristé Bouvier on the Designer Health Net Talk Show, Christina provides insight into these questions and more in a six minute segment of a 60 minute show dedicated to dance in general.

There are two ways to listen:
Click on this for a direct link to listen to the MP3.


Go to the Designer Health Net Talk Show site itself and listen to the past episode on “dance.”

Christina Devereaux’ interview starts at approximately 16 minutes into the program and ends at about 22 minutes in.

Should her answers inspire your own questions, feel free to respond to my blog and ask them here. I’m happy to provide whatever information I can or point you in the direction you need to go to find your answers.

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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?

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