Dance/Movement Therapy: Making the Mind-Body Connection
Updated: Sep 22, 2020
What is your body telling you?
Have you ever noticed how our society tends to separate physical health from mental health? Unfortunately, it’s common, and it doesn’t make sense: our body is one working being with a brain, thoughts and beliefs, emotions, body parts, and more. I strongly believe in paying attention to all that is happening emotionally, mentally, physically, and even spiritually.
I encourage everyone to take time to notice what your physical body is doing in response to something emotional. A common example is holding your breath and tensing muscles when frightened or anxious. We can often tell when something is “off” with a loved one even without them saying anything by noticing how they are presenting themselves. If it is too hard to think about on a human level, look at a nearby pet or other animal. Animals’ body language often lets us know if they are happy to see us, frightened, ready to attack, or depressed. Body language is a powerful language. Isn’t it beautiful?
When working with the body, I pay attention to what you are saying as well as what your body is saying. When I first applied to graduate school for Dance/Movement Therapy (DMT) and Counseling, there was an interview where I was asked why I liked dance. My answer was, and still is, “Because I can say what I want to say without actually saying it.” This quote is actually DMT at its most basic level. What are you trying and wanting to say? What is your body trying to say? This is an opportunity to explore.
Most people are not sure what DMT is. When they hear or see the word dance, they assume that DMT sessions are similar to a dance class. This is not the case. When using movement in therapy, I don’t make people dance. Sure, some people want to dance. If that’s the case, I encourage this. Dance! Let your story be told! Others prefer to keep it small. Great. This is perfect for you. This is beautiful and empowering, too. Use it. We are all moving, even on minuscule levels. Your heart beating, your lungs bringing in air and releasing, and facial expressions are movement. Your blood is flowing through your body.
As a DMT, I notice your breathing pattern. I notice if you are fidgeting when we talk about certain topics. I notice if you are leaning into or withdrawing from topics. I notice if you tense up or are relaxed. We work together. I trust you, as you know yourself better than anyone else. We work together to figure out what your body and words are doing effectively, and what pieces can evolve to help you. It’s a beautiful transition.