Tara Rollins, LPC, DC-DMT, joins Jess on Insight Mind Body Talk to discuss the unique psychotherapy method of Dance Movement Therapy (DMT). Dance/movement therapy (DMT) integrates the creative process, movement, and verbal processing to help strengthen the body-mind connection. Jess and Tara explore what DMT is, the difference between Dance Movement Therapy and regular, talk therapy, as well as how it's used in a therapy session. Tara shares her experiences as a dance movement therapist and gives the listener safe and simple strategies for creating change in their own life.
Produced by Jessica Warpula Schultz
Edited by Jessica Warpula Schultz
Music by Jason A. Schultz
Ep 20: Dance Movement Therapy with Tara Rollins
[00:00:00] welcome to Insight Mind Body Talk, a body-based mental health podcast. We're your hosts, Jessica Warpula Schultz and Jeanne Kolker. Whether you've tried everything to feel better and something is still missing or you've already discovered the wisdom of the body. This podcast will encourage and support you in healing old wounds, strengthening relationships, and developing your inner potential- all by accessing the mind body connection.
Please know, while we're excited to share and grow together. This podcast is not intended to be a substitute for mental health treatment. It doesn't replace the one-on-one relationship you have with a qualified healthcare professional and is not considered psychotherapy.
Thanks Jess. And thank you for listening. Now, let's begin a conversation about what happens when we take an integrative approach to improving our wellbeing. Welcome to Insight Mind Body Talk a body-centered mental health [00:01:00] podcast. I'm your host, Jessica Warpula Schultz.
Today we talk Dance Movement Therapy. Dance Movement Therapy integrates the creative process movement and verbal processing to help strengthen the mind body connection. Our guest is Tara Rollins. Tara is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Dance Movement Therapist here at insight counseling and wellness.
Tara has experienced working with children and families, adolescents, and adults in nonprofit agencies, inpatient hospitals, residential treatment centers, community centers, schools, and outpatient clinics. She specializes in working with children who are on the autism spectrum or have experienced trauma due to abuse or being placed outside of their home.
Tara also works with individuals experiencing anxiety, depression, ADHD, [00:02:00] body image issues, Bobbi based traumas and anger management. Tara's work is based on the belief that all individuals have strengths that can be used to overcome. Life's challenges, Tara. It's so good to have you here. Welcome. No, thank you.
I'm so excited to be here. One of my favorite topics in therapy. It's a field I don't have as much knowledge about I'm sure I'm not the only one, which is why I'm really glad that we're getting together to explore, to talk to teach. So why don't we begin by having you tell us a little bit about Dance Movement Therapy?
Yeah, absolutely. So I always like to, when I talk to people about dance and the therapy is just to read the definition word for word from the American dance therapy association. So they define Dance Movement Therapy as the psychotherapeutic use of moving. As [00:03:00] a way to help people expand their emotional, cognitive and physical integration, creating a connection between each system.
So the actions of one system can facilitate the workings of another. So that's a lot of words, but really boil it down to, it's an innovative, formal psychotherapy that uses connection of the body and the mind as its foundation, and really works to strengthen that connection. We work with the whole person integrating movement, their creative process and verbal communication into sessions.
So it's a whole eclectic blend of lots of different things. Yeah, which is what we're all about here. Insight Mind Body Talk, and at Insight Counseling, we're mind, body centered practitioners. Absolutely. Absolutely.
Tara, what is the difference between Dance Movement Therapy and regular talk therapy?
Great question. So the term [00:04:00] therapy or psychotherapy is used to describe dancing that therapy because it is a form of psychotherapy it's body-based, but it is a form of psychotherapy for treating a diverse group of people, of all ages social, psychological, developmental, neurological, or physical challenges, which I know we'll talk about more later, but so Dan Smith therapy, we want to promote emotional, cognitive and physical wellbeing.
We help clients integrate their mind, body and emotions. And through this integration find emotional growth and self-definition, we use movement and the creative process to help clients express emotions and experiences in a less direct, more unique way. Sessions include movement as well as verbalizations to process experiences and develop skills.
And we use movement as a tool for creative expression for insight, behavioral change in a supportive environment. Another thing I [00:05:00] like to say is that's that one component of our title dance therapy, and then the other kind of part is the dance or the dance movement. And we use that term as part of our title because Dance Movement Therapy, we incorporate dance content.
And body-based concepts within our psychotherapy work to help clients. So for example, in DMT sessions, we teach dance concepts, imagery, metaphor, symbolic themes, as well as dance elements of space, rhythm time, intensity. And then we use those elements to help clients experience new emotional states that they never developed last or uncomfortable using.
Creative dance techniques help open new avenues for expression, for insight, for transformation. And we [00:06:00] expand clients, dance, vocabulary, and dance. Creativity is this helps them to explore authentic emotions and develop a body language of expression. Which hung healing and processing experiences in a different way.
Most definitely. Cause you know, when someone comes to regular talk therapy, it's, there's a lot of cognitive processing, emotional processing. But when you bring in the body, we're tapping into that sensory motor processing system. So the parts of our nervous system in our brain and through posture and movement, all sorts of things come alive that maybe we can't necessarily tap into when we're just seated and trying to think our way through it, or even feel our way through it sometimes.
Absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah. That's really cool. That's really cool. As therapists, we all have our stories. What brings us to our areas of expertise? I'm curious as to how you found Dance Movement Therapy. [00:07:00] Yeah. I was loved telling the story and I love talking to even other dance therapists that I was in school with or know, and so interesting to see.
Where people came into understanding the stance therapy. So I started dancing, taking dance classes when I was about seven. My mom says that I was dancing before I was born. So there's some debates, but my, from my first dance class, I fell in love with dance and I continued to take dance all through high school.
And when I started thinking about that question, that we all get in high school, right? What do you want to be when you grow up? What are you going to do with your life? I knew I wanted to help people, but I also wanted to find a way that I could make dance, always be a part of my life because it was so important to me.
And I feel really lucky that I grew up in Madison because I had a teacher. Or somebody in high school that I was working with, who referred me to talk to the dance therapist at the Hancock center for dance. Wow. They even knew then that [00:08:00] there's something here, people that you can talk to and learn more about like maybe what you can do with your career and with your passion.
Yeah. And I remember going to to the Hancock center and looking at their library and watching these videos and it was like this light bulb went on. I was like, oh my gosh, this is what I'm supposed to be doing because it was connecting dance with the desire to help people. And that just opened up this whole world.
So then I studied psychology and dance and undergrad and on to do the graduate program specifically in Dance Movement Therapy. So it was really a nice. Connection, to become a dance therapist, you have to complete a master's program that the American dance therapy association accredits traditional alternative route programs.
And the programs are all a little bit different. Obviously have some unique qualities and some new classes, but in general, you study the dance therapy, theories and methodologies, as well as other areas of [00:09:00] psychology and psychotherapy. It was just happened to connect with that maybe earlier than some people would given the community that I live in.
And I was really lucky. Wow. That's amazing. Madison, it's such a special place and I can't even imagine someone seeing something within me , at that age in high school, and then guiding me to look further into opportunities and to then have people right in front of me that I could talk to and ask questions of and learn.
And then you were able to really craft that through your undergrad and through your master's. That's just phenomenal. I feel very lucky. I realized now that I thought that was normal to know in high school, you wanted to do the rest of your life. And now as an adult and working with so many people in my mind, I'm like, oh no, actually that's very special and very unique.
And I feel very lucky to have found that and created it and made my own over time. But I know lots of people. I don't have [00:10:00] that. So it was pretty cool. Yeah, that's really cool. I was in a bunch of theater and so I guess in so many ways, the communications I studied brought me to this podcast, brought me to the other areas of being a therapist that I love presenting and things, but wow.
That is just so special that you found it so young. So cool . I know humans we've been using dance movement, other forms of expression for centuries to, to get to know ourselves to heal ourselves. So I'm curious about how the method, the actual approach of Dance Movement Therapy was created.
What can you tell us about how it came to be a formal psychotherapy intervention? Yeah, that's a great question. Dan's monotherapy started as a distinct profession about the 1940s by a woman named Marian chase. And there are several other really pioneers in dance therapy, such as Trudy Shupe, Mary Whitehouse, blanche, Evans, [00:11:00] continuing on from her work, but Marianne chases, the original dance therapist.
And she had been teaching dance with kids of all ages. As a dance teacher and was asked to lead dance classes or dance groups at St. Elizabeth's hospital in Washington, DC, which is still there today and still leave. I don't know who caught me, has some dance therapy in it, but they brought her in to teach dance groups for the patients and chase as well as the psychiatrists and other staff at the hospital really began to notice these positive therapeutic effects of these dance classes on the client's health and the clients or patients were noticing that they were gaining these physical and emotional benefits from taking this dance class.
And so chase card said, wait a minute, there's more going on here, like dance class. And that's great, but there's something else here. And so she continued working with these clients and really developed the main theories and structures that are still used in a lot [00:12:00] of dance therapy today. Of course the dance therapy field is also influenced by numerous other fields.
So neuroscience dance in Europe and the United States, nonverbal communication, anthropology, psychology, lot of the stuff brought together. And from that beginning of Marianne chase and these dance classes, and I think that was the big thing was, and I think you talked to us that are dancers and then found dance therapy is that's really that foundation of those of us who connect with and find that powerful influence in healing of dance.
Realize this can be something more, this could be something that can you share. We felt in the early dancers found like, oh, I'm getting something. It powerful and healing from this. And like you said thousands and thousands of years we've been doing dance, but it was putting that together and then creating this psychological psychotherapy lens and using it as that tool more specifically that just as continued to grow [00:13:00] over the years that dance therapy has been around.
Are there certain mental health diagnoses that Dance Movement Therapy treats more effectively than others, in your opinion. And I liked that you say in your opinion, cause I realized that I'm biased, I'll have opinions. So Dan Smith therapy is effective at treating most types of mental health diagnoses, particularly I think because dancing with therapy, like other forms of creative arts therapy can be really flexible in our interventions to find what works for each individual client almost intuitive.
You think of creative thinking outside the box, right? It can be particularly helpful at treating mental diagnosis that affect the body, which as we're learning from this podcast and other things is most diagnoses, right? So it goes back to the idea of dance therapy being effective with most mental health issues, because most of them are affecting the body in some way.
I think the big important thing to think about is, or what I've noticed is if a [00:14:00] clinic, an agency, an organization, or even just a person is really open to exploring the benefits of DMT with its unique approaches, then there can be successful outcomes is this openness, this willingness to try something a little bit different, you gotta be willing, right?
It's not the traditional therapy, but if you're open to that idea of this being helpful and trying it out, it can really be helpful for anyone who has that, that openness, that willingness. I think also another big thing is that dance therapy like other creative arts provides clients with unique tools to express and process difficult, thoughts, feelings, and experiences that are challenging to express verbally.
And these tools can be really helpful for certain mental health diagnosis. When verbal techniques are less accessible or less comfortable Or more overwhelming, I think of specifically my work with individuals on the autism spectrum where verbal skills are not there as much. And when diagnosis affect the body a lot or a lot of [00:15:00] times been working with people who've had like early developmental trauma and trauma that's happened before there was words.
And I know we'll talk about that probably a little bit more later, but I think that can be particularly helpful. I think, I always like to say, as I often us stance therapist will get referrals because someone wants some, just tried other traditional forms of therapy and haven't found them as helpful.
Because those traditional forms of verbal therapy just haven't worked But I think that dance there, what I've found as I've done this, or the years is dance therapy, I think can be particularly successful when it's integrated into a comprehensive treatment model. So that includes other forms of psychotherapy, as well as medical professions, school teams, natural supports.
It's a really nice way to. Incorporate body and body-based needs well, addressing clients' needs on a body-based level and providing these tools that can implemented when traditional methods aren't helping or to [00:16:00] supplement or to really make sure that body is showing up at the table, the treatment work for a client.
And so I think it can be really incorporated with all sorts of things. It's just in a whole, another set of tools, set of skills that we can teach our clients. And that can be helpful.
I agree. It sounds like dance therapy brings a lot of new tools to the healing process. And, we're both, body-centered practitioners, we've witnessed the healing capacity of movement. I've experienced it myself, so when I think about psychotherapy and dance movement, the expressive specializations, I just can't help think about trauma treatment and how essential it is really to bring the body into the therapy room.
So how is Dance Movement Therapy use to heal body-based trauma? Yeah, that's a great question. That's something that I definitely have worked a lot with and feel very passionate about. And like you said, it's comes up all over again is we've my big [00:17:00] thing I always say, right? Which I know you believe too, is we're continuing to learn the research about the brain and body that when someone experiences some type of trauma, the body is affected in variety of ways.
Therefore it is essential. And I believe this so strongly, the body has to be included in the therapeutic work that we do to heal this trauma. So dancing with therapy can help clients. Who've experienced trauma to work towards a connection or reconnection with their body gain a sense of control over their body and hyper arousal or this association and develop compassion and provide nourishment, the body self We've also learned.
And I know we've talked some on this podcast about how we can continue to research about the brain that we learn. When someone has repeated experiences, they internalize certain beliefs about themselves and about the world, as somebody said, and I wish I knew who said it because it's so great is neurons that fire together, wire together, developing and strengthening those neural pathways that affect every aspect [00:18:00] of their life.
So what do we do in dance therapy? We have techniques that allow clients to have new positive experiences connecting to their body, which creates, and our hope is that creates those new neural pathways that are self-affirming narratives. And that can replace those older, negative neural pathways that were formed by trauma and painful associations that they have towards their.
We have lots of props in dancing with therapy and something that's always been interesting doing things virtually and having my stuff on video versus virtually. Oh, I tell, yeah. Tell me about it. Yeah. So we use things like dancing to scar dancing with music, moving with scarves, using movement props, creating movement, metaphors that again, provide these repeated opportunities for clients to experience joy while moving their body and experiencing body sensations, that they have these negative connections with their body and we are allowing them to have positive [00:19:00] experiences in real time, connecting to their body, noticing those sensations.
And I think something we talked about before, too, is that something that's unique with dance therapy? That helps in general. But for specifically with trauma is we allow clients to process experiences that are too difficult to process. As I talked before, these dance concepts of imagery, metaphor, symbolic themes, dance elements, rhythm space, time can touch on issues by externalizing, those feeling states without having to directly address vulnerable emotional experiences.
So if someone's feeling angry, perhaps they don't have to maybe talk about that anger, which could shift their state or trigger or hijack their brain into a survival response. They can maybe mindfully and safely move in a way that expresses the anger. And [00:20:00] what we know about the body, at least as I know, as a sensorimotor therapist, we need to allow the body to move in a way that it wants to process those feelings and those experiences.
And so just maybe even moving in a capacity that feels like this is this force, this push is the anger or there's this great. I wish I knew. Man, I wish I knew who she was. I'll put it in the show notes. There's this great body-centered therapist. I follow on Instagram. I believe she's in Australia.
And she has, you know what? This is, she has one of those. It almost looks like you're inside of a big like body pillow, but you're like, it's stretchy and you're moving around and you, no one can see you. I love the idea of how safe it feels that no one's watching your facial expressions or your body, but you're inside this moveable.
I don't even know what to, how to describe it, Tara, I guess I'll have to link it in the show notes as well. So [00:21:00] people know what the heck I'm talking about. It's almost like you're in a stretchy bubble. I don't know. Yes. But you get to like move and curl up or pull and just in a way that it feels like it's containing the experience, but also allowing you to maybe set down those parts of ourselves that are always a little maybe self-conscious or judging what we're doing it just looks really freeing.
Does that make sense? Absolutely. Yeah. Going to exactly know what you mean? Absolutely. I have these, you can make them, you can buy them online. Some people call them stretch sacks. There we go. Yes. So they're like stretchy, like rum material and absolutely it's a very protective feeling.
We do a lot of again, think about the idea of having this being a skin or a womb, or, you're an animal or you're coming out of an egg and thinking about that, it also gives that sensory input on almost of getting a hug right. Or feeling that [00:22:00] stretch, feeling, getting that feedback from it.
Absolutely. Absolutely. And like you said, too, having fun with it as well. Noticing your body and feeling something in your body and saying, oh, wow. Not everything that's connected with body, my body and physical sensations is negative. And that's the message and the story, unfortunately, that so many people have with their body.
But we in this dance therapy space can create something where you can do that, or look at yourself in the mirror and laugh at how silly you look in a giant thing that, you know, but it's that joy that exploration that oh, I can feel something in my body and. It doesn't have to feel bad. It doesn't have to feel overwhelming.
Yeah. Like you said, neurons, that wire together, fire together. So at some point in that type of experience, you're playing, there's a playful quality to it. And what we know about the nervous system is that it really can only play when it feels safe. So [00:23:00] now we know you're in a place with your system that you're feeling safe and playful and you're moving again and you're making new neuropathways that say, Hey, play and movement are safe.
This is really fun. This isn't something I need to be, scared of as well as just creating new movement patterns allow your body to realign. Yeah, that sounds so. Very cool. Yeah. Yeah. And I think, another thing that stands out to me a lot that we do is we talk about, talking about developmental stages, right?
And you talk about how we develop speech, interaction, physical things. And, we find with trauma a lot is that there can be these gaps when people experience trauma at an early age that they can get stuck in that. Or they're not able to develop certain skills that they need.
And so the beauty of dance, monotherapy and body work is when we're young movement and play our language. And so we have to help people move through these physical experiences to go back to [00:24:00] that time in their life, into move, through to process using the language that we have at that time. And again, our body is the one thing that's with us from the time we're born till to die.
Helping people go back to those and experience and play with and develop and process things that might've happened is something very unique that we can't sit down and say, let's talk about what happened when you were two that mind. But we could put on almost on an inner movement put on what does a two year old move like, oh, I could do that.
And all of a sudden it's like this wealth of knowledge and information, I'm like, oh, and then we can develop some of those things or process things that happened at that. Definitely. So I'm thinking of two things. One is just, how you can be doing something, for example, I used to pogo stick a lot.
When I was like in fifth grade or sixth grade, I got a Pogo stick for Christmas. I was so excited. I would practice all the time in my grandma's [00:25:00] basement, trying to dive to the beams so that it would knock my head basically. So doing two things at once, trying to not get a concussion while learning pogo stick, but I found one a couple years ago and bounced on it and it's, or jumped on it.
And it's so interesting how you get a flood of memories. Yeah, your brain like taps and the things you forgot about and memories become clearer, it's just so interesting to me that our bodies and movement store those things for us.
And so you take that into the therapy room and right now I'm doing a lot of work with an e-course that we're going to be releasing in the next few months about the inner child. So I'm all about the inner child right now, and I can't help, but think about the inner child as you're talking.
And what do you think are some things that may be someone who is working on their inner child or something that can be helpful
yeah. So one thing that can be helpful is have clients create what we call like a [00:26:00] dance journey, a dance story. It's about things that, early childhood experiences, family of origin issue, trauma experiences. So sometimes people will create a dance, just either process the whole journey or a specific part.
I have clients that will actually pick music that was popular, or they were listening to when they were a certain age. And play that music. And it's like you said, it brings up those memories as we talk about body memory. So sometimes playing that music and moving to that music and seeing what happens in dance therapy, we also talk about, and this could be a whole nother podcast, but we talk about different movement qualities or rhythms that we develop.
Just if you looked at like Erik Erikson, right? And you looked at developmental psychology and the stages of development, part of those is we get really specific in dance therapy about rhythms that we create and that time. So for example, the first rhythm we develop is the sucking rhythm. You can put two and two [00:27:00] together while sucking for them is the heartbeat.
That's infant hears before they're born of their mom, sucking in breastfeeding rocking, it's a soothing rhythm. And we talk about in dance therapy, the idea of trying on this one, Trying to move with this rocking, sucking rhythm helps us connect with that part of our life. And then how different rhythms develop over time naturally, right?
If we went through ideally through a developmental, you would start with the sucking rhythm and then move all the way through to the higher, more complicated movement qualities. But a lot of times when people have experienced a trauma gets stuck, they missed that. Wow. That rhythm and develop that and we practice.
And so there's different activities, movement, activities that you can do, right? Like I just said was second for them. We can rock. And this is sometimes you can see people where they're self-soothing what do they do [00:28:00] it wrong? That's an intuitive self soothing quality that we learn before we're even born with our mom's heartbeat and her breath is fucking with them.
Wow. That's you're right. That's a whole nother podcast. The idea of these rhythm stages, developmental stages. Now I have my minds blown and then I have to like, look at them. I talk about one thing because it could be, and it's so obvious, like of course that would be happening to us. Of course. Yeah.
If someone's listening and they're becoming interested in trying dance, movement therapy, what can they expect in a session, an individual session, or maybe what group sessions are like? Yeah. So the structure for individual group family sessions really varies a lot, depending on the actual, the dancing with therapist leading the session and the person or population that you're working with.
There's not really a set structure [00:29:00] or format for sessions. Some techniques and structures are used both individual and group, but individual sessions in particular really tend to develop based on what the client is needing, expressing, or feeling that day. As we like to say, as therapists meet the client where they're at.
Of course, if you're doing group, sometimes you need a little bit more structured, but there's always this. Again, going back to this idea of creative process and playfulness is picking up on what's happening in the group, what's happening with the individual and going with that. But as we had talked about before Mary and chase, the founder of dance therapy, she created a structure that many people like to use or offshoots of this very general structure.
So we have a warmup, a theme development and a closure or cool down. And again, I use those loosely because we like to, as long as it's safe and supportive, we go with what's there and what's happening. But warm up is what it sounds like. Start [00:30:00] moving the body, noticing the breath, connecting with the body and starting to notice what sensations are.
What is your body needing and wanting today? And as a therapist, we might give some directives depending on the individual client. If they need more. Ideas to help them connect with their body and warmup, or some people don't need a lot. They need just a getting going and maybe some music, and then they're off warming up their body.
Then we have what we call a theme development, which is where we work on practicing and developing skills, expanding on or exploring themes that might've come up in the warmup based on like the energy of the group. Is there some common movements or qualities or specific movements that are coming up or as a therapist, if it's a group that has certain themes or skills that it's working on, then we might incorporate that into that main chunk, the theme development of the group.
And then the last part is [00:31:00] the closure or the cool-down so cooling down, slowing down the body, not Indra, not introducing new information and helping clients to feel grounded before the session ends or reflecting on what happened. So it's like we do in other therapy methods, right?
How do we kind of ground and calm, zip it up before we leave for the session? And that's definitely something that we like to do most of the time, but again it's a loose structure, but again, especially with individual, it really is meeting the client where they're at and what they need in that day or what their goals are.
So that sounds really nice, really client centered. I appreciate that. Here's a question. What, let me adjust in my chair. Okay. Here's a question. What's it like for the person who's really. Shy not shy feels really what's it like for the person who feels really hesitant at the beginning of [00:32:00] Dance Movement Therapy for those out there who were thinking about perhaps doing this work, maybe they're starting in a place that they're not feeling connected to their body or that their body isn't quite a safe place to be.
So the idea of going and starting this new thing with this new person, and then they're just supposed to move around. And I already want to enter a little bit of freeze just thinking about myself. So let's talk about it just to ease the minds of anyone who's maybe nervous, but it's interesting.
Yes. And I'm so glad you say that because I think that is definitely something that's really important, especially as we're introducing people to dance therapy and something that I always like to say. And I'm probably say it, like when I do the definition of dance therapy is that even though we do use dance concepts and creative process and improvisation, you do not have to have any dance experience.
I worked with people in was in [00:33:00] school with other people who didn't have a dance background at all or had been in other professions that had come into dance therapy. And so that's a caveat, I would say you don't have to have any dance experience. The most important thing is that as long as you're listening to your body and you're staying safe, that's the most important thing.
And yeah. So don't have to have any dance experience. There is no. Depending on the client, we can really start. I usually start small and start simple. So like that classic dance therapy session, warm up the envelopment closure. That can be a lot, people like it's not a dance class.
You're not sitting there in the mirrors and you're expected to do certain things. And I like to talk about it's very different than a dance class. Yes. We're doing movement, but it's much. I like the, I use dance and movement in my titles and people say dance therapist, dance movement therapist. But I think it's important to sometimes that dance word great gets people scared.
Like I can't dance. [00:34:00] We start super simple. A lot of times it can be, just breath, not just, but breast work. And connecting with your breath and just noticing what is my breath doing a body scan, noticing what are the sensations that I am having in my body today, if that feels comfortable or starting out really simple.
So maybe we have music and we tap out a rhythm on our legs, or we clap together or we tap our. Or if we're a group we look around and we see the other people in the group, and we notice what they're doing. Or we as a dance there is, might give more directives or more ideas to people. But it's really not as formal as you like, okay, we have to do, we have to do dance move and you're going to be doing these moves because it's much more about the connecting with the body and the breath and finding and exploring new ways to express yourself and to connect with your body.
But we start with a client is at, there is no right or wrong way to move. We're not teaching you dance skills that you need to perform. I do when people do create [00:35:00] dances and do have performances and do have what they have created witnessed just by me, the therapist or the group members, but as much more about your personal experience and what feels right to your body and challenging yourself to try out different movements when, and if that feels comfortable to you.
And I think that's, it is really important because people will come in I can't do movement. I'm not a dancer. And so it's much more about incorporating some of these techniques into the session, teaching people body-based rounding activities, right? Body-based anxiety reduction, techniques things that use the body to help them with lots of different things.
And I think that's really the key point or the key takeaway with dance therapy is how do I learn to feel comfortable connecting with my and noticing what's happening here and it's my own body. And it's my own way to express myself. It's not a right or wrong way. It's just using our body and making sure that our body is part of that.
And that can be [00:36:00] very healing and very. It's not a right or wrong way. Exactly. And it sounds like the dance movement therapist is more of a person there to provide structure or ideas and interventions, but it's always down to what that person feels safe doing, what helps them express and explore who they are and with the pace and the tempo that really speaks to them.
Yes, absolutely. What are some ways a listener, could bring Dance Movement Therapy into their life right now? Things they could practice immediately . As we've learned from this wonderful podcast, there are many treatment modalities that do utilize the body and movement, and that's a really important thing that we can take out of the therapy session and incorporate into our daily life in different ways. And that's where the magic happens, right?
That's where the progress happens. Therapist, as well as other people outside of the fields of therapy can use dance and [00:37:00] movement in unique ways. I often give clients exercises to try outside of our therapy sessions that, they don't have to be a dance therapist. They're not in an, in a dance therapy session, but we could do those, these exercises in a session.
If the client needs a little bit more support and then as they feel more comfortable, they can take that out. Into the world. So one example of a technique skill challenge that anybody can try is we like to increase awareness of body posture, facial expressions, movement, qualities, tone of voice of ourselves and other people, and how to use this information to make shifts or changes as needed.
So I give people the challenge or the exercise where we might want to call it is when a situation or an interaction doesn't go the way you want, or is particularly challenging or creates a lot of anxiety. Take time either during that situation or [00:38:00] later on to think about how has I holding my body?
What was the tone of my voice? What was my face doing? How close was I standing to that person? And then. Try adjusting one or more of these things the next time you're in that situation or that interaction and see if it helps, makes things go a little better for you. So like in a therapy session, role-playing do some role playing and experiencing what are your tendencies, right?
How do we expand these tools and options what's out there, right? It doesn't have to be the certain way to expand it. But then they can do it. Anybody can do it day to day. If you're having a disagreement with someone, you have these disagreements over and over again, step back and say how was that holding my body?
How close is I standing to this person? What is my body doing when I'm going into this fight or flight mode or this aggressive mode? Or I wonder if someone perceived me. As being really angry and aggressive when I wasn't [00:39:00] because of how I was holding my body because the body will store those patterns, it'll have the automatic response to the thoughts and feelings, and then we won't even notice, but the body will shift into a posture or a pattern of movement. And often because the brain is trying to predict the future, it's going to use past information, right? It will sometimes keep an old story or an old narrative or belief alive when that's not even our actual reality anymore. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. . So another thing that people can be aware of or try out on their own is similar to what we were just talking about of being aware of your body posture and facial expressions, but a little bit more specifically is that we all have what we call in the DMT world movement preferences.
Most of us aren't even aware of about ourselves. And if we become aware of these preferences, we can work in DMT sessions and on your [00:40:00] own to try and less preferred movement qualities and expand our movement repertoire. So what does that mean? So I tell people the idea is that we need a variety of skills to complete life tasks.
We also need this expansive movement repertoire to be successful. I look at movement qualities as being like on a spectrum where we need all of the parts of the spectrum, depending on the task so for example, some people tend to move with a lot of quickness and struggled to slow down, even talk with a lot of quickness.
This is really helpful when you need to get things done quickly, or you're doing something super active, playing a sport, moving, doing that. But at other times, this preference might cause some challenges like when you're trying to rock a baby to sleep, or you're trying to carry a super fragile dish. And so I asked people try and challenging yourself to do a daily activity with a different movement quality and see how that affects your success.
[00:41:00] This of course requires some creativity, right? What is this? I don't what but can be hopeful again, to use those ideas of metaphors imagination to help you. So I might say people like move, like you're walking through honey move, like your, S video in slow motion. For example, with the talking and moving fast is that there's all these different qualities that we have, and they're on the spectrum.
So we can look at and say we all have tendencies. And that's okay. We also need all of those. So we don't want to say they're good and bad movements. We need all of them. It's just, we all naturally have preferences to certain patterns, certain qualities of movement. And you might even notice whether it's TV, whether it's your partner or a friend now that this is in your head, you're going to notice, oh man, that person tends to move with a lot of quickness or that person tends to move.
Like they're moving through honey and thinking about different professions and [00:42:00] how different movement, qualities, and tone would affect your success at doing something, your interactions with people that how you move and hold your body might be, would definitely affect that. And that again, you can shift and play with how do I try on some other qualities?
Again, this is challenging because your body has its patterns and its rhythms. And this is where I feel comfortable, but we can use those. Creative movement tools that we teach people in dance therapy to say, oh, what if I try slowing down my movement a little bit? Ooh, that feels a little bit weird. That feels a little more that's okay.
Or maybe we try moving with more quick. You also talk about weight, right? So light versus heavy, direct versus indirect, quick versus slow free flow. Controlled. ]
knowing these things just opens up a whole nother way of looking at the world, looking at your [00:43:00] interactions, taking skills and incorporating them. Again, it's challenging because it's different, right? And it's okay to have preferences, but you're giving yourself options, right?
You're expanding the possibilities so that things don't have to continue the same way and continue the same pattern if you don't want to. And if those things aren't benefiting you again, right? Whether it's different tools to be creative and express yourself and process through things, whether it's different ways to interact with people, whether it's different ways to connect with your breath, it's all new, different ways to look at things too.
Ultimately, to find ways to do things a little bit differently, and somebody will be creative or think outside the box to find these new ways and to change those things. It's expanding possibilities. I love that. That's exactly what it is, Tara.
Thank you. You're so passionate. You're so wise, so knowledgeable. Thank you for sharing yourself with us today. It's been a great [00:44:00] conversation. Thank you so much for having me. I really would love to talk more and I hope that this has been helpful for people. Me too. Me too.
Thank you again for joining us on Insight Mind Body Talk, a body-centered mental health podcast. We hope today's episode was empowering and supported you in strengthening your mind-body connection We're your hosts Jeanne and Jess. Please join us again as we continue to explore integrative approaches to wellbeing. Until then, take care.