Dance/Movement Therapy, Mindfulness and Substance Abuse Recovery: An ADTA Talk

Board-certified dance/movement therapist and registered yoga therapist Emma Barton has over a decade of experience providing movement-based and mindfulness recovery services to individuals experiencing substance abuse.

In this ADTA Talk Barton discusses the use of mindfulness in her work. She emphasizes mindfulness not only as an intervention for clients, but also as a mode of operating for therapists in relation to clients–as a way of being present and engaged. This practice can enhance trust building and aid in the development of the therapeutic relationship which is essential to process of recovery.

Individuals struggling with substance abuse build primary relationships with a substance; therefore, when recovery is initiated, new relationship patterns and  new types of relationships will need to emerge. This can be especially challenging for individuals with years of addictive behavior. 

Barton developed and utilizes dance/movement therapy and body-based mindfulness interventions “to help clients develop healthier and more effective ways of communicating and socializing.” This process is vital, Barton continues, “since interpersonal stress appears to be the biggest trigger for most people in recovery.” She also emphasizes the body as a resource of information and awareness for the client, whether that is experienced in dance, yoga or in stillness.

To learn more about Barton’s work see her article, Movement and Mindfulness: A Formative Evaluation of a Dance/Movement and Yoga Therapy Program with Participants Experiencing Severe Mental Illness in the American Journal of Dance Therapy.

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