Dance/Movement Therapy and Survivors of Torture: An ADTA Talk

Survivors of Torture Create Dances of Freedom

Belonging. To self, body, home, country, past, present, and future . . . belonging to this world. This sense of belonging, a basic human right, is destroyed in the wake of torture. Survivors of torture are robbed of this sense of belonging – as their body rhythms and social/emotional rhythms are intentionally disrupted and dysregulated. They are left silenced with the engrained message “You are not in control; we are in control of you.”

According to Amnesty International, between 140 and 160 countries practice torture annually. The current international refugee crisis adds yet another element; since 1975, in the United States alone, 44% of refugees are also survivors of torture.

In her ADTA Talk, dance/movement therapist Amber Gray discusses the importance of dance/movement therapy (DMT) as “a powerful, restorative practice for working with torture.” Dance/movement therapy is a psychotherapeutic, body-centered modality with significant advantages when it comes to working with survivors of torture. While torture intends to silence, disrupt, and control, DMT offers a way back home. Using movement as our primary fundamental language, the practice of DMT unearths voices – both verbally and nonverbally, restores body rhythms, offers a way to re-inhabit the body, and reintroduces a sense of belonging.

Watch Amber’s evocative, informative, and necessary ADTA Talk to hear more about how dance/movement therapy can be used to access implicitly stored trauma and reteach the body, mind, and whole person what it means to belong to themselves and to this world, after surviving torture.

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