Welcome to the new ADTA blog! Due to the vision, skill and energy of ADTA Public Relations Chair Lora Wilson Mau, Blog Team Leader Ande Welling and the full blog team, the ADTA now has a full spectrum of options for communication with each other and the world at large about dance/movement therapy (DMT).
Contributors to this blog will regularly share discoveries made in clinical practice and DMT education, explorations of theory, reports on the life of the organization, advocacy activities, and applications of research. The ADTA blog will bring many voices to the global discussion of DMT and we urge you to take part in the discussion. Let us know what you think about the blog and what you’d like to see discussed!
It is my honor to launch the blog and to share a few thoughts on one of my own favorite DMT topics: improvisation. Improv is at the heart of many clinical methods in DMT, and creative processes in movement will almost always involve some measure of improvisation. Dance artists who become professional dance/movement therapists may find themselves at home in the moment-to-moment journeying into oneself that occurs when improvising. However, our clients may find that process more difficult, and sometimes the ability to improvise — to move into the unknown, to trust oneself in the present and to flow into one’s future –can be elusive, and a little frightening. For this reason, dance/movement therapy sessions often begin and end with relatively structured warm up and cool down phases that ‘bookend’ the creative process and provide a safe psychological container for the improvisatory risks that people take in the work toward psychological, physical, cognitive and social integration of the self. For this reason also, dance/movement therapy has been identified by thought leaders in the area of Complementary and Integrative Therapies (Cassileth, Jonas & Cassidy, 1994) as a modality that requires ‘systematic therapeutic learning’ in order to confer the full benefits of this therapy. This means that for some clients, a period of simply learning how to use the medium (dance, creative movement) is indicated, and may make the course of treatment more successful in reaching the individual goals. Learning to improvise in therapy builds a set of life-skills that transfers into everyday living in essential ways: most of life’s most rewarding and important experiences are somewhat improvisational. Healthy relationships, developmental processes, challenging work projects, all ask us to leap, and turn and fall and to get a little off balance in the quest for new learning and a new equilibrium. Improvisation is a kind of play as well. The developmental theorist D.W. Winnicott put play at the center of the therapy process in his description of the ‘potential space’ where subjectivity and objectivity meet. Winnicott suggested that, to be truly healthy, the client needs to be able to play and, to enable that capacity in the client, the therapist also needs to be able to play. In DMT we both play and work in movement, reaching into the rich potential of the creative process so our clients can discover and bring into action their own capacities and resources.
May this blog become a space for rich dialogue and a playground for ideas and resources in the dance/movement therapy community. Let’s see what happens next!
Cassileth, B., Jonas, W., Cassidy, C. M. et al. (1994) ‘Research Methodologies.’ In B. M. Berman and D. B. Larson (eds), Alternative Medicine: Expanding Medical Horizons: A Report to the NIH on Alternative Medical Systems and Practices in the U.S. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, National Institutes of Health.