ARBN 633105736

Jennifer Helmich

Dance movement therapy in Australasia: 21st century

Edition: Dance Therapy Collections 4

Keywords: dance movement therapy, contemporary image, unique skills, exibility, improvisation, future directions

Page #: 124

Developed from a plenary panel presentation made by the authors at the Dance Therapy Association of Australasia’s Conference, Melbourne, 2015, this article centres around the belief that if dance movement therapists adopt a more contemporary image they could t into a wider range of opportunities for dance movement therapy practice. The authors expand on a ‘contemporary image’ of dance movement therapy and the reasons why they see the need for one at this time. Global trends, identi ed from recent international conference presentations (American Dance Therapy Association 2014, and European Association of Dance Movement Therapists 2014), are drawn on to support the ideas presented and personal authors’ stories are used for further illustration. The views of the wider dance movement therapy community on the subject of ‘contemporary images’ are included, as drawn from a survey undertaken during the conference plenary panel session and questionnaire completed at a later date. A further perspective is included, from the moderator of the discussion. The various viewpoints are drawn together to suggest ideas for expansion of dance movement therapy in Australasia in the future.



Jennifer Helmich – Bio


Prof. Member DTAA, Dip DMT IDTIA, MA Creative Arts in Therapy, PACFA registered, accredited grief and loss counsellor, midwife and practising maternal and child health nurse. Helmich is experienced in working in a psychiatric outpatients clinic dealing with a wide range of psychiatric disorders. She specialises in trauma, with women who have experienced early childhood abuse and with clients who have experienced life threatening accidents or health issues. She is a faculty member of IDTIA’s three year training in Dance Movement-Therapy.

Dance Movement Therapy with Adults who experienced sexual abuse in childhood: the early phase of recovery

Edition: Dance Therapy Collections 2

Keywords: traumatic stress, Dance Movement Therapy, childhood sexual abuse, safety, effectiveness, mastery, control

Page #: 45

This paper describes dance movement therapy with adults who experience post traumatic stress. It focuses on the first phase of trauma recovery ‘the establishment of safety in the body’ and describes how this provides a therapeutic foundation, which can lead to re-experiencing and transforming traumatic memory. Illustrations are presented from the case studies of two women who experienced sexual abuse in childhood.

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Chronic emotional numbing or alexithymia acquired secondary to trauma: a movement and dance therapeutic model

Edition: Dance Therapy Collections 1

Keywords: Dance movement therapy, Alexithymia, trauma, Laban movement analysis, symbolic expression, empathy, verbalization, affect differentiation

Page #: 35

The author presents a model for a dance movement therapeutic program proposed to assist clients suffering from Alexithymia resulting from trauma, literally translated as being ‘without words for feelings’. These clients also experience ‘paucity of fantasy and symbolic functioning’ and have difficulty being empathetic with others. Helmich proposes a program that draws on Laban movement analysis to develop a client’s capacity for symbolic movement and subsequently ability to differentiate, and ‘organise this experience into a verbal form’. She offers four charts, which specifically outline four clear program goals including specific interventions and associated hypotheses. The four key areas for development are as follows: tolerance of feeling, affect differentiation, verbalisation and development of empathy.

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One man’s experience of accessing and transforming embodied traumatic memory: a dance therapy study

Edition: Dance Therapy Collections 3


dance movement therapy, phenomenology, emotion, embodiment and childhood trauma

Page #: 86

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.