Expressing Disorder: Journey to Recovery from Eating Disorders

A Glimpse into Dance/Movement Therapy and Drama Therapy Treatment for Individuals with Eating Disorders

Body language is really our native language. This is the language that I use as a dance/movement therapist to help the women I see begin to reconnect in their bodies; to feel and express their feelings; and reclaim their life. ” —Susan Kleinman, dance/movement therapist

Expressing Disorder: Journey to Recovery presents stories of eating disorder recovery through the creative arts therapies treatment lens. This 40 minute documentary features the work of Susan Kleinman, board certified dance/movement therapist and certified eating disorder specialist, and Carol Dietrich, drama therapist. Both dance/movement therapist and drama therapist utilize metaphor and the body to encourage clients’ active participation in treatment while supporting clients in finding ways to express feelings and positively reconnect themselves to their own bodies.

In this rare footage into actual dance/movement therapy and drama therapy sessions, viewers get a special window into what treatment looks and feels like. Group and individual sessions are presented alongside feedback from clients in recovery as well as post-treatment reflections. Adding a deeper layer into understanding treatment and recovery, the documentary also provides the therapists’ perspectives on interventions, goals and overcoming challenges.

View full episodes here.

The documentary focuses on the recovery of several clients. “My body was my biggest fear and, yet, moving it was what helped me,” says survivor Mary Curtis. Curtis’ experience in dance/movement therapy recovery and treatment is chronicled through her words, movements and conversations with her dance/movement therapist Kleinman. Kleinman discusses in depth the importance of reconnecting individuals, such as Curtis, diagnosed with eating disorders with their own bodies.

Kleinman also reflects on the tendency for people managing eating disorders to avoid the sensations of their bodies. Her facilitation of movement, body work and group dance in the documentary is seen to encourage clients to increase awareness of bodily sensations  while positively reconnecting themselves with others in community. 

Nearly one in ten Americans are estimated to experience an eating disorder, such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia, binge eating disorder, or pica over their lifetime. Symptoms that manifest from eating disorders can create dissonance between a person and their body. Identifying treatment options such as dance/movement therapy and drama therapy that engage both mind and body may be vital to addressing the whole-person in recovery.  

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