How often do you listen to your body? When was the last time you “checked in?” I challenge you right now, to pause. Take a deep breath in through your nose for the count of 4…3…2…1…and exhale out through your mouth for the count of 4…3…2…1…. Notice how your body feels. Maybe try it again. The human body is a valuable resource we forget to use. Enter Dance/Movement Therapy.
What is Dance/Movement Therapy? As defined by the American Dance Therapy Association (ADTA), DMT is the psychotherapeutic use of movement to promote emotional, social, cognitive, and physical integration of an individual, for the purpose of improving health and well-being. Dance/Movement Therapy is an alternative form of healing. When our words fail us, our bodies inform us. Take a moment to think about a time in your life when you experienced something that was emotionally dysregulating, such as a traumatic event. Do you remember all the details? Probably not, because when we experience trauma, parts of our brain shut down in an effort to keep us safe, but the traumatic experience is imprinted in the body. With the help of a trained dance/movement therapist, the trauma can be processed on a somatic level to work through the experience which can lead to changes in thoughts, behaviors, relationships, and even over all physical functioning. DMT is considered a “bottom-up” process, meaning the healing starts in the body rather than in the brain. Does the phrase “get out of your head” ring a bell?
Often, our bodies are a place of shame, guilt, and mistrust. Perhaps even the thought of using your body to communicate is scary or intimidating. But the beauty is, you’re already doing it. The body is always communicating, nonverbally and the body will never lie. DMT allows our bodies to have a voice.
In therapy, being honest and vulnerable can feel intimidating. It can feel weird and uncomfortable, and adding the body in the mix can feel down right terrifying. It can also be an incredibly freeing and liberating experience. If you’re stuck in the same cycle, day in and day out, and are ready to make a change, join me in the uncomfortable. Together we can create shifts. A shift in the body can create a shift in the mind, leading to a more present and authentic life. The beauty of this modality is, no experience is necessary. If you have a body and a pulse, you can move. The movement does not have to be anything grandiose, choreographed, or “perfect”. It is simply raw, natural, and honest.
Amanda M. Fondow, MA, LPC, R-DMT, is a Registered Dance/Movement Therapist (R-DMT) and a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC). She received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Human Development from the University of Wisconsin – Green Bay and a dual Master of Arts Degree in Dance/Movement Therapy and Counseling from Columbia College Chicago. Amanda also has a certification in Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT).