Dance as a Form of Therapy

Matea Mills-Andruk‘18.5 reflects on her CCE Community Engagement mini-grant funded participation (along with six other students) in a 3-day intensive on Dance/Movement Therapy at Antioch University New England. These experiential/didactic workshops are conducted by faculty of Antioch University New England’s Master’s Program in Dance/Movement Therapy and Counseling.

          Before attending this workshop, I had no idea that Dance Movement Therapy was a widely used form of group and individual counseling. I hope to attend midwifery school after graduating and think that incorporating dance movement therapy into a midwifery practice would greatly benefit people giving birth and their families. In my own experience, reflection exercises that incorporate symbolism and movement have always allowed me to more fully understand what I am feeling and the ways I interact with people. For example, during this workshop we did an exercise in which we moved around the space, walking or dancing, and met the other participants with eye-contact or touch, and stayed together until we decided it was time to go. Embodying hello’s and goodbye’s, comings and goings, we explored what it feels like to meet, to be met, and to leave and be left. In the group discussion afterwards we talked about how this could be used as an access point from which to talk about meeting people and leaving people in our everyday lives. We thought about how we could physically practice meeting and leaving in the contained space of the movement studio and how we could change or simply become more aware of how we experience these interactions through embodiment.

          In a logocentric culture, in which logic, rationality, and the cerebral are privileged over emotion and the body, and within a medical system that largely privileges the doctors diagnoses over a patient’s self-knowing, it is empowering to learn skills that aid in self and group reflection. In the same way that verbal communication must be practiced and cultivated, and emotional awareness must be fostered and supported, awareness of the body must also be facilitated and taught within community. It is a skill that needs to be learned and shared.

Students in dance/movement therapy workshop at Antioch University New England.

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