I am a Dance and Movement Therapist keen to expand peoples’ knowledge of this form of therapy. I am sure that you will agree that many of the emotional and psychological problems from which millions of people suffer are caused by not being able to give expression to those griefs, angers, doubts and fears thich overcome us all from time to time. Dance as a total art form provides a channel of communication in a very special way which is often more reliable and effective than the spoken word.
I am not going to give you a history of this form of therapy. This is my own personal story.
I came to this particular world through the insights and experience gained while I was conducting research into traditional religions in Ghana and Nigeria. I became aware of the extraodinary power of African healing dances. It was because of this understanding that I trained and have practised as a Dance and Movement Therapist.
Although I do have a background in recreational dance my approach is very much influenced by my work as a Healer. A teacher does not necessarily need to be a professional artist. I am not. But experience of movement, an understanding of its transformative power and expert training are all essential. My own training included Sacred Dance Sacred Dance and introductions to various Middle Eastern, Indian, Spanish and Brazilian forms. I also had to undertake supervised psychological and emotional work on myself.
Practical learning experience included work in schools for children with Severe Learning Difficulties, working with Deaf Blind people and with long-stay patients with profound health problems. After this training I was accepted as a member of the Association of Dance Therapists International. As a practising therapist I have worked with adults suffering from a range of problems including severe mental ill health, stress, medication dependency, drug addiction and personality problems. I have also held courses for women working on the theme of “Self-Awareness.”
What is the aim of this form of therapy? It is a quest for self-healing through bodily movement. When we tune-in to the deepest well-springs of our Being we move with a grace, rhythm and beauty which is unique to each individual. Through this “tuning-in” process we learn new aspects of ourselves and others without the need for the spoken word. We can attain through this means – calm, peace, spiritual upliftment, self-confidence and greater physical energy for ourselves and others.
There is an enormous difference between Physical Education and Dance Movement Therapy. The only purpose of the former is the exercise session and increased fitness. The latter also has the aspect of physical well-being but also provides an opportunity for emotional reactions and insights.The aim is to bring about a feeling of “wholeness”. Various forms of dance such as modern, folk and ballet can be used but the emphasis is not going to be on technique or performance. What this therapy offers is NOT A CURE but is a discovery which will bring about greater harmony between MIND-BODY-AND-SPIRIT. Results will be noted over time.Through creating a “safe”, accepting, non-judgemental environment the participant can accept or reject an activity, he or she can express problems, unhappinesses, hopes and fears through movement which originates from within themselves.
I do not teach any specific dance or movement styles, but guide sessions in a way which enables each participant to create his or her own dance. This is so even when the participants have emotional problems or mental ill health. Age is irrelevant. Even if participants have a restricted range of movement or are confined to a wheelchair, it is still possible for them to join in because everyone moves within their own level of energy output. You can dance with your fingers or toes – with whatever part of the body has some movement.
Where appropriate I use breathing exercises, vizualisation, relaxation, story-telling, masks, poetry and visual stimulation through pictures, and natural and man-made objects. Everyone is enabled to take part and to have fun, exercise and relaxation at the same time.
My impression is that there is an increasing interest in and understanding of this important form of therapy. The schools where I have held regular session (the majority Special Needs) have been very pleased and surprised by the results.