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The Origin And Development Of Movement Therapy

By Karen Carter

Movement/Dance therapy refers to the therapeutic use of dance and movement for the purpose of supporting emotional, motor, and intellectual functions of the body. The term movement/dance therapy is often abbreviated as DMT and is commonly used in the United States and Australia. In the United Kingdom, this therapeutic treatment is referred by the name dance movement psychotherapy. The abbreviated form used in the United Kingdom is DMP.

DMT is categorized under expressive therapy. It aims to find the correlation between emotion and movement. Movement therapy has been in existence for a very long time. Since early human history, it has been used in healing rituals for issues such as death, sickness, birth, and fertility. The idea that dance was not simply an expressive art began to exist in the US and Europe between the years of 1840 and 1930.

Although the use of dance to heal was in use since thousands of years ago, its actual establishment into a profession and therapy happened in the 1950s. Marian Chance, the founder of American Dance Therapy Association played a major role in the establishment of dance as a therapy. There are two waves of the history of DMT. Chance spearheaded the first wave, whereas American therapists took great interest in the second wave.

The theory of DMT bases on the belief that there is constant interaction between the mind and the body. Conscious and unconscious movements people make base on the dualist premise of mind body. Those movements reflect personality and affect total functioning in people. As such, the relationship between clients and therapists are in a small part based on body language and other non-verbal cues. A sense of wholeness is offered to every individual by DMT by exploring the unity of the spirit, body, and mind.

The process entails four stages that must be completed. One must achieve the smaller objectives entailed in each stage. The bigger purpose of DMT is comprised of these smaller goals. Each individual has different goals and stages are customized for each person. Stages progress from one to the other. Where necessary, stages are revisited every now and then.

The four stages of DMT are, preparation, incubation, illumination, and evaluation. The preparation stage can also be called the warm-up stage. It involves preparation of safe and sufficient space that does not have any obstacles or distractions. The client also creates a supportive relationship with a witness. Participants need to be comfort to be able to move while their eyes are shut.

The incubation stage involves the leader prompting participants to go into subconscious. The prompt is given verbally. The subconscious is an internal environment of relaxation and serenity that the participant needs in order to exploit their emotions. Incubation is followed by the illumination process, which is integrated through dialogue. The witness offers dialogue to the conscious awareness to allow for self-reflection.

As the participant self-reflects, they are able to uncover and resolve motivations in their subconscious. Too much self-awareness has both negative and positive effects. The evaluation process concludes the session with discussions about the insights revealed and their significance.

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