“Every human being has the right to inhabit his or her body in the way that he or she chooses.” Board certified dance/movement therapist, human rights activist and Continuum Movement Teacher Amber Elizabeth Gray, as a guest of Guy Macpherson on The Trauma Therapist Podcast, discusses her work, experiences and motivations. Gray is considered a pioneer of the use of movement, somatics and creative arts psychology for complex humanitarian crises.
In this episode, Gray addresses dance/movement therapy as “acknowledging the integration of the physical, sensational, emotional, transpersonal, cognitive and perceptive; all are aspects of the human existence rooted in the body.” As a dance/movement therapist, Gray works with movement “as the primary language” which includes work with internal embodied experiences and the use of breath. “Breath is what controls and liberates movement,” explains Gray. “[It] is our dance with life; we ride it in and ride it out.”
Listen to Gray on The Trauma Therapist Podcast here
Download via iTunes here (Episode 87).
Gray emphasizes the importance of cultural competencies as well the necessity for titration when working with individuals or communities who have experienced human rights abuse(s). Through experience, Gray learned early on how slow the work needs to happen in the context of extreme trauma; full-bodied dance/movement experiences may need to be worked up to as an individual re-establishes a relationship to his or her own body.
Lastly, when working with individuals who have encountered an abusive power differential Gray highlighting the importance of therapists’ awareness of the balance of power in therapeutic relationships. Though direction and guidance may be required from the professional, Gray recommends therapists lead with a heightened awareness of this power dynamic while simultaneously attempting to restore equanimity in the relationship.
Editor’s Note: Amber Gray’s ADTA webinar on Broken Body, Broken World: DMT and the Restorative Process for Refugees and Survivors is available on demand here and; Amber Gray is offering an intensive on Dance/Movement Therapy, Mindfulness and Trauma: Creating Pathways for Healing and Compassion Across Cultures at the ADTA Conference in La Jolla on October 22, 2015. All interested parties are welcome to register.