It is easy to limit discussions of health to the physical state of our bodies. What I love about my host site, 11th Street Family Health Services, is that it focuses on each person as a whole. A major emphasis at our site is mental and emotional health. One example of a service offered at our center that effectively promotes this aspect of health is dance/movement therapy (DMT). To learn more about how DMT is used to increase the health of our community members, I sat down with our incredible dance/movement therapist Lindsay.
What exactly is DMT? Lindsay says, “To paint a better picture of being counseled by a Dance/Movement Therapist, imagine first discovering all of your strengths and empowering yourself before focusing on your “problems”. Envision a therapist who is attuned to your non-verbal communication and knows accordingly when to challenge in treatment versus when to nurture. Imagine not having to talk about your pain because your therapist is trained to help you represent it, and heal from it, through non-verbal representation. Envision feeling so safe and comfortable with a therapist that you can creatively improvise as an antidote to anxiety. Imagine a therapist who is willing to dance your pain while you sit and verbally describe it because, although you are strong enough to see it represented, it is too difficult for you to move your own body to express it. Imagine physically leaning on a therapist to feel authentic support, or release anger/anxiety through punching, kicking, screaming or melting.”
When I asked about what she loved about what she does, she responded, “I cherish the quiet moments with clients during which we subtly, slowly and gently improvise movement together. We are both vulnerable and are equally sensing and feeling our way through the interaction. But in these therapeutic moments, I stay externally involved just enough to be a holding container for the client’s raw, fragile emotions and buried thoughts to emerge. If I am too internally involved, I am not be able to direct the improvisation toward an intervention that leads to greater insight and healing.
I also love amplifying the behavior that someone wants to be able to express. For example, I have a client who really wants to perform physical comedy but she’s ridden with social anxiety and low self-confidence. So I amplify goofiness, or as she says it “making a fool of myself” in session to fire her mirror neurons and encourage her silliness to emerge. Through playing in a safe, confidential environment of the therapy session, she begins to embody goofiness without thinking shaming thoughts. She’s discovered how much funnier she is when she feels liberated in using her body freely. She’s also able to hear me laugh with her, rather than interpreting it as laughing at her – this will make a huge difference in staying confident as she hears the audience laugh.”
Serving as an NHC member has allowed me the opportunity to learn more about DMT and other areas of health care which can be used to help people to live more robust lives.
To learn more about DMT, visit: www.adta.org