Lisa Goldman has created a multidimensional life. Each dimension – teaching, dancing, therapeutic work, mentoring, and performing - weaves around to create a tapestry imbued with richness.
Her inclination for body-based modalities piqued her interest in the fields of physical therapy, obstetrics, and dance. In high school, her mother gave her an article on dance therapy, a gift she would tuck away in the back of her mind and return to when she was ready. Lisa entered college, earned her BFA in dance, then, disillusioned by the politics of the dance world, veered into acting and comedy improv. She enjoyed this endeavor but knew this work would not fulfill her soul. In contemplating her future, her mother's gift resurfaced. Lisa attended Columbia College Chicago and received her M.A. in Dance/Movement Therapy and Counseling (DMT&C). In addition to her DMT&C degree, she was among the first students to complete the Graduate Laban Certification and Movement Analysis (GLCMA) program.
Her therapeutic work has flowed into a variety of human lives, including those in in-patient psychiatric facilities, children and adolescents in the DCFS system, teen moms, and those surviving brain injuries. Lisa's work with teenage mothers proved to be the most difficult and learning intensive of her career. Her exposure to the severe abuse and neglect caused vicarious trauma and compassion fatigue. She encountered racism, staff burnout, obstacles and road blocks. Lisa also struggled with an inability to see the benefits of her work. Yet, it was during this time in her life that she grew as a therapist. “I learned a variety of counseling skills and how to handle intense crisis situations. This work is where so much of my self-trust as a counselor came from.”
Lisa's current work with clients surviving brain injury is challenging and rewarding in its own way. As manager of a brain injury rehabilitation program, a therapist to clients, and a supervisor to students, Lisa wears many hats. Her passion for working with survivors of brain injury stems from the ability to see tangible benefits of DMT. Fostering healing in brain injury survivors is “all about re-integrating mind and body.” Approaching her clients using DMT techniques and interventions often espouses visible results. “It is so cool because you can so clearly can see the impact of DMT unfold in front of your eyes, in the moment.” The connection between the physical and psychological aspects of each person is palpable.
Her approach to her current work centers around helping clients relax into a place where healing can happen. This usually begins with a body-centered warm-up to shift them from their thinking self into their bodies. Next, clients might be encouraged to explore various ways to mobilize and stabilize. “I like to have folks explore movement that helps them connect to self first. Then I guide them in a way that invites them to connect with others on a body level.” The groups closes by centering and grounding, reconnecting to their bodily experience.
Performance holds much value, inspiration, and power for Lisa. Her high regard for this form of creative expression weaves into many of her therapeutic endeavors. She created a performing group for the teen moms in which they choreographed dances and performed them in the community. “I feel like it provided so much for these girls. It was a great way for them to channel, regulate, and creatively be in their healthy parts. And to be seen and witnessed in these parts.” Her current clients also benefit from the healing power of performance. Each December they learn and choreograph a dance that is performed in front of friends and family. Recently, clients and staff of the program choreographed a dance that was performed in the annual student/faculty concert at Columbia College Chicago.
Her love of performance and her visceral belief that it is essential to health, led her, along with colleagues, to create a structured approach to performance as therapy. This clear structure establishes safety and containment for “fluid, abstract, unconscious material to surface.” This allows clients to tap into their creativity and promotes self-healing. Lisa also believes in the power of performance as a form of self care. The process of creating, rehearsing, and performing “keeps us in our healthier parts as therapists, provides release and recuperation, and creates neurological shifts.” Her genuine love of dance and performance finds expression in Sling, a dance company she co-founded with fellow dance therapists.
Teaching and mentoring are important threads in her life. She began teaching in Columbia College's DMT&C program a few years after her own graduation. Later, she began teaching the GLCMA program. Her work as an educator “deepens my work as a therapist, movement educator, choreographer, and performance as therapy creator.” Lisa is inspired by her students in the classroom and as an on-site supervisor. “It's truly a privilege and honor, getting to be in [a process] with a person/student.” As a movement coach, she loves helping people deepen their movement repertoire and “coaching them through the creative process.”
Her richly woven, multidimensional tapestry continues to grow in its intricacy and complexity. The threads of her passions (teaching, mentoring, performance, therapeutic work, and dancing) connect and reconnect, cross and criss cross, as Lisa Goldman keeps breathing.