Editors: Kim Dunphy, Jane Guthrie & Elizabeth Loughlin for the DTAA (2009), 206 pages
This collection of articles by keynote speakers, Australian and overseas practitioners, developed out of presentations at the third Australian Dance Movement Therapy conference, Weaving The Threads, held in Melbourne in 2007. This volume includes 22 articles from Australian and international dance movement therapists and colleagues on a wide range of topics, from dance therapy’s origins and directions, research and evaluation in dance-movement therapy to therapeutic applications and skill development for therapists.
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Weaving the Threads: Dancing from One Century into the Next
This Keynote Address discusses the experiences of a pioneer dance/movement therapist through the years of the emerging profession and her reflections on dance/movement therapy today.
Laban/Bartenieff Movement Analysis: A Vital Thread with Many Colours
This Keynote Address introduces Laban Movement Analysis and Bartenieff Fundamentals, and provides case studies of relevance to dance–movement therapists, and their application in clinical practice.
Speaking In Our Own Voices: Negotiating The Space Between
Hanny Exiner Memorial Foundation Keynote Address
Dr Heather HillAbstract:
The inspiration and starting point for this keynote address is a story told by a young American dance therapist, a story which seemed to me to encapsulate key aspects of the experience of dance therapists everywhere: firstly the lack of recognition of dance therapy as serious professional practice and secondly the difficulties we dance therapists face in speaking our ‘truth’ to others. While we see every day the value of the work of dance therapy, we continue to feel in some way lesser than other professionals, constantly needing to prove that what we do has value. I introduce the concept of ideological hegemony, which suggests that the dominant paradigm or world view sets the agenda for what is valued and what is not. Thus it may well be that lack of professional recognition has less to do with lack of evidence and more to do with the fact that dance therapy lies outside the dominant biomedical paradigm. Far from seeing this as a cause for despair, I suggest that we use this awareness to put our energies into strengthening our profession through good practice, peer support, writing, and appropriate research. In talking in our own voices, from our own truth, we have a strong base from which to reach out and negotiate the space we share with others.
The Road Ahead: Global Trends in Dance Movement Therapy
This paper presents a global perspective of the dance-movement therapy (dmt) profession as drawn from a survey comparing six other countries with Australia. The responses indicate various pathways taken for professional advancement, with the choice dependant on different influences within each country. The complexities that surround the decision making process for the choice of pathway for Australia are discussed, and comparisons are made between the profession in Australia and the countries surveyed. The importance of training in achieving professional recognition is highlighted and alliances with other organisations suggested for career advancement purposes.
Finding the Best Psychodynamic Support for Dance Movement Therapy
Sandra Kay LauffenburgerAbstract:
Dance-movement therapy (DMT) focuses on the power of expressive movement. Nonetheless, many dance- movement therapists have found through personal, clinical and supervisory experience that movement must be supported with appropriate language in order to be therapeutically effective. Evolutionary theory also supports the need for movement and language. This paper suggests that a psychodynamic language is needed, but it must mirror and support the elements of and values within DMT. Although many psychoanalytic theories may contain some therapeutic concepts common to DMT, ad hoc theory picking is not good practice. A single theory, which can provide comprehensive theoretical support for DMT, is needed. Self-psychology is recommended as the psychodynamic language which holds the most parallels with DMT as well as applicability to a range of populations.
Dance movement therapy in Australia: a survey of practitioners and practice
Kim Dunphy, Tessa Hearnes, John ToumbourouAbstract:
This article reports the results of a survey of 41 dance-movement therapy practitioners in Australia. Issues for dance-movement therapy practice in Australia were investigated within the themes of practitioners; programs and clients, and philosophical and industrial concerns. Overall, it was apparent that the dance-movement therapy profession in Australia is both diverse and homogenous: therapists’ professional orientations and backgrounds, and the types of settings in which they work, are very diverse, but therapists are much more similar in their ages, gender, cultural backgrounds and geographic location. The issues raised by the variation and lack of diversity are discussed, along with possible strategies to address them.
How can dance-movement therapists describe and measure outcomes of their practice?
John W. ToumbourouAbstract:
Occasionally we all need to ask ourselves the all important question – does my work make any difference? In health and human services we ask ourselves whether we are contributing to improvements in health and wellbeing. The field of evaluation attempts to answer questions of this type. In this paper I use my experience as an evaluator of health and social services to provide practical ideas as to how dance-movement therapists can undertake successful evaluations in order for the positive contribution of their field to be further developed. The relationship between the evaluator and the therapist is an important but often neglected aspect of evaluation. Where the therapist can build a relationship with an evaluator based on communication and respect, a fertile ground can be established for producing interesting and informative evaluation studies.
Intuitive Mothering: Developing and evaluating a dance therapy model for mothers with postnatal depression and their vulnerable infants.
Intuitive Mothering, an eight week dance therapy program, has evolved as an experiential therapy for infants and their mothers with postnatal depression within a hospital outpatient psychology group program. Key concepts of the Intuitive Mothering model are described: the shared somatic partnership, neurobiological aspects of intuitive learning, and the contribution of mutual play within the liminal space, all of which aim to promote mother-infant responsiveness. Results of an evaluation of the Intuitive Mothering dance therapy intervention demonstrate a reduction in parenting stress, maternal depression and anxiety, and improvement in mother-infant interaction. Discussion of results point to future directions.
One man’s experience of accessing and transforming embodied traumatic memory: a dance therapy study
This article is based on a phenomenological study of one man’s experience of accessing feeling and emotion through movement, image and dialogue. The traumatic childhood that was the basis for John’s experience is identified and the phenomenological threads of John’s experience are woven together with reference to dance therapy, embodiment and trauma theory.
Moving On: a dance/movement therapy approach to the treatment of anxiety
This article describes a pilot study to test the potential of a dance/movement therapy program as a treatment for anxiety. The program was developed by the author, drawing from the approaches of Kierr (1995) and Bourne (2000), and incorporating elements from psychodynamic, developmental, self psychology and cognitive- behavioural approaches. Ten self-selected adults joined a community based dance-movement therapy program for a ten week series of sessions. Assessment tools included a client interview, Zung SAS questionnaire, movement analysis using the Samuels and Chaiklin Movement Observation Scale, and Client Feedback Form. Eight out of the ten clients experienced a reduction in anxiety, and those with no depression showed a higher level of improvement. This study provides support for further investigation into the use of dance/movement therapy interventions to treat anxiety. Further research into the treatment of anxiety and depression is recommended, especially into the combination of verbal and dance/movement therapy within a multidisciplinary treatment approach.
Dance-movement therapy in an inpatient eating disorders program
This paper describes the dance-movement therapy (dmt) component of an Eating Disorders Program (EDP) in a private psychiatric setting. The dmt component was developed around an understanding of the experience of eating disorders, in order to meet patients’ physical, social and emotional needs. It is intended that this description may promote a deeper understanding of eating disorders and value of dmt in their treatment. Additionally, a strategy for evaluating the dmt component of the EDP is explored.
Surviving Absence: Preliminary Findings on Dance Therapy and War Trauma
This article contains preliminary findings from research on trauma, archival and experiential; explains dance- movement therapy’s (DMT) relationship with trauma; and identifies an absence in DMT literature: case studies of work with Holocaust survivors. Interrogating the rarity of DMT work with post-traumatic stress disorder and civilian war trauma, Baum discusses current trauma methodologies and mentalities. Baum queries what dance/ movement therapists could offer (even if they have not) to lead people with post-traumatic stress disorder, or other traumatic effects of war, to enjoy healthier, more integrated lives. She calls for construction of new clinical frameworks expressly for survivors of war.
Dancing Your Sacred Centres: Middle Eastern Dance, Movement Therapy and the Chakra System
This paper discusses the combined practice of Middle Eastern Dance, Movement Therapy and the Chakra System and their role in health, wellbeing and personal growth. The researcher draws upon experiences from her private movement therapy practice and research material from a Masters thesis that discusses the therapeutic benefits of Middle Eastern dance. It is anticipated that this paper will provide potential clients and dance movement therapists with research and case study information about a healthy and enjoyable practice to assist with health issues and provide insights into the physical and psychosocial impact of an ancient art form integrated with contemporary therapeutic practice.
Birthing the Mother: Dance Movement Therapy in the Birthing Process
This article aims to translate the work of Rhea Dempsey, birth attendant (doula), birth educator and counsellor, into the dance-movement therapy context. This paper explores the relationship between the physical, psychological and emotional states experienced by the birthing woman, and suggests meaning in the challenges and problems in birth. The author reframes birthing as a dance and gives a detailed description of her work as a birth support / dance therapist at a recent birth. The potential for the dance therapist as part of the mother’s support team in birth and the pre- and post-natal experience, where the skills of witnessing, attunement, empathy and holding the space are enacted, is discussed.
Self with baby: Supporting the dance of connectedness in a community-based mother and baby dance therapy group.
A community-based dance-movement therapy group can offer a nurturing, supportive environment for mothers, in a busy, unsupported world where the problem of disconnection may be experienced. Within the safe space, with the movement experiences and the interventions of the dance therapist, the mother begins to see her baby and to respond intuitively to his expressions and needs. Her new identity as a mother doing the demanding task of mothering is validated. The mother can gain a sense of herself with her baby.
Dance Movement Psychotherapy as Primary Treatment
This case study is about the development of a trusting attachment between a dance therapist and a mother- toddler dyad. The child, Chloe*, was referred to dance-movement therapy following the death of her four year old sister, Bea*, in a car accident. Chloe’s normal development, in particular her language skills, deteriorated. It was the mother’s diagnosis that her relationship to the child was profoundly interrupted by grief. Although the mother attended to her basic needs, she was emotionally unavailable to Chloe. The development of a deep secure attachment between the therapist and the dyad contributed to their facing, enduring and healing the grief. Chloe’s language skills developed over two years and she was able to speak about the trauma.
The Application of Attachment and Attunement to Dance Therapy
Interventions with very young children focus on addressing and improving the relationship between the parent and child. This style of intervention is important when children have experienced significant losses and other psychological trauma such as in the case of abuse and neglect. Dance therapy can contribute to such mental health work by helping to identify and change the nonverbal communication, especially during physically oriented joint play with parent-child dyads. This style of intervention draws on the literature from attachment and attunement. A case study is used to present these ideas in application.
Dancing for Peace in Angola, Africa: Using Movement-Based Expressive Arts Therapy as a Tool for Social Action
This article describes ‘Dance for Peace’, a five-day workshop and performance in Luanda, Angola, facilitated by the author and a colleague, Jay Packard, working with Canadian-based non-government organization Development Workshop. Fifty young people who had an association with Youth Ambassadors for Peace, an organization formed by Development Workshop, participated in the project. ‘Dance for Peace’ was designed to improve participants’ psycho-social well-being and to provide opportunities for exploring issues of peace, and creative tools to manage their differences. This article will describe how the dance and expressive arts were used successfully in this cross- cultural context to promote social awareness and community bonding on a group and individual level.
How does the therapist effectively reach, engage and affirm Gen Y?
This paper defines Generation Y and presents some understandings to help the therapist use dance, movement, drama and expressive arts in a methodology relevant to this population’s needs, values and expectations. While the characteristics of this generation are currently emerging and changing in response to their rapidly changing familial, social and global environments, a number of key traits stand out. This article introduces dmt work with two Generation Y populations, young mothers and their infants and adolescents. Within the framework of a five- part dance-movement therapy session, the components that, from my own experience, have effectively supported my endeavours to reach, engage and affirm Generation Y are summarised.
A Tribute: Two Minds Meeting, Moving And Expanding: dance-movement therapy with a cancer patient
This case study is about the use of dance-movement therapy with a dear friend and professional colleague of the author who was diagnosed with lymphoma cancer. Together we explored the alternative healing method of dance-movement therapy along with conventional medical care. My intention was to listen to her needs and give positive support physically, mentally and spiritually whenever possible. Through a creative process I provided movement expression, allowing release of inner feelings and transforming them into dance. Through attunement, progress flowed, my client showed great courage and very positive reactions to both my methods and processes. Her use of creative expression and her dance motifs were empowering and gave her great satisfaction. As inner feelings are allowed expression, many negative feelings can be transformed in movement from negative to positive, supporting optimism, hope and courage. Dance-movement therapy can reduce feelings of isolation through shared movement support, trust and as an access to spirituality.
Dance, Stillness and Paradox
Jennifer De LeonAbstract:
This article is about stillness, a singular stillness, occurring within movement yet also framing, holding all movement. Using a hermeneutic phenomenological theoretical framework and drawing on my Masters research Dance and Stillness (De Leon 2005), the poet T.S. Eliot, the phenomenological and philosophical writings of Heidegger, Merleau Ponty, Smythe, de Chardin and others, notions of equipoise and hysteresis, the potential therapeutic value of this stillness is discussed. Information is presented about the essence of the danced/ watched experience, with attention given to what constitutes stillness, its therapeutic value and how it could inform therapeutic engagement.
Self-Nurture and Soul-Making Dance in the Wilderness: A Reflection
This paper is about a recent personal experience, when after many years in autism education, I felt the need to nurture my own dance. I attended an eight day workshop entitled ‘Nature Dances’, as dance and landscapes has been a topic of interest for me for a number of years. This is therefore a subjective and autobiographical account based on reflections recorded in photos and a journal, and inspired by literary quotes. An account of the structure and intent of the workshop is followed by an exploration of the factors that made this wilderness dance experience so valuable for me. It illustrates the way dance as everyday art can be healing and possibly enhanced when taken outdoors.