February 21-27 is National Eating Disorders Awareness Week. As board-certified dance/movement therapist and Certified Eating Disorder Specialist Susan Kleinman has observed, many people with eating disorders feel a lack of connection to their bodies, suppressing emotions and denying felt experiences. Kleinman’s recent article, “The Body Speaks: Dance/Movement Therapy Creates Movement Toward Eating Disorders Recovery,” explores the powerful way dance/movement therapy empowers individuals with eating disorders to explore and reclaim their authentic selves through movement and verbal processing.
Susan Kleinman pictured here on the left
Kleinman, recognizing the need for therapists to attune to their clients while maintaining connection to their own sense of self, points to three techniques in dance/movement therapy that do just that: rhythmic synchrony, kinesthetic awareness, and kinesthetic empathy.
Rhythmic Synchrony manifests in the clinicians’ ability to attune to their patients. When clinicians are in synchrony with their patients they are more attuned to their clients’ emotions. They are also more likely to understand and address the distress that lies beneath the patients’ anxieties and resistance.
Kinesthetic Awareness represents the individual’s ability to experience one’s own feelings and sensations inwardly. If one is detached from listening to one’s own body, it is likely that others will respond with the same degree of detachment in their relationship.
Kinesthetic Empathy is the ability, on a body level, to understand what others are feeling. This has significant relevance to the therapeutic relationship and the journey patients and clinicians undertake together. (Kleinman, 2016)
Read more on dance/movement therapy and eating disorders:
- Dance/Movement Therapy and Eating Disorders: An ADTA Talk
- Show Me the Way to My Soul: Dance/Movement Therapy for Individuals with Eating Disorders
- Katie’s Story: Dance/Movement Therapy