Dance/Movement Therapy supports healing, growth and wellness through creative and body-centered approaches, while integrating traditional methods of psychotherapy. Movement is the therapeutic tool used to support the individual’s emotional, cognitive, physical, and social integration. Dance/movement therapists closely observe, witness and experience the client’s movement in order to build an empathic relationship; to learn about his or her ways of expressing and relating; and to create therapeutic goals and interventions. Dance/movement therapists pay attention to the individual needs of every client in order to encourage and assist in his or her growth and development at every level.
What is so striking about the way in which a dance/movement therapist works, is the approach she takes in order to connect and build a therapeutic relationship with each client. Dance/movement therapy pioneer Marion Chace developed the path for practitioners, who still use her technique of “empathetic reflection” today, where the therapist mirrors and interprets the client’s movement, and thus reflects the underlying emotional state back to the client. This ‘nonverbal communication’ is more of a conversation than what we commonly think of as ‘body language’. In fact, dance/movement therapists use an intricate movement vocabulary to assess their clients in order to form treatment goals and interventions.
As well as engaging in mirroring, the dance/movement therapist will translate what the child is doing into simple language. Verbalizing their movement explorations in this way is another means of positively reflecting how the child appears, improving body image as well as helping the child to cognitively organize and structure his or her experience. The movement can serve both as a bridge for contact and provide a vehicle for communication between the dance/movement therapist and the client.
There is a dancer in all of us; we engage in a movement dialogue with others on a daily basis. Modern dancer and choreographer Martha Graham is known for her famous words, “Movement never lies. It is a barometer telling the soul’s weather to all who can read it.”
For more information, please visit the American Dance Therapy Association website.