Moving Body or movement therapy workshops - what are they?

Movement therapy is also known as movement psychotherapy, dance movement therapy or dance movement psychotherapy. At The Dispensary our sessions are called “Moving Body “ workshops. The professional organisation governing Movement therapy calls it the psychotherapeutic use of movement and dance through which a person can engage creatively in a process to further their emotional, cognitive, physical and social integration. Basically there are three key assumptions: The first is that body and mind interact, so that a change in movement will affect total functioning and vice versa. Secondly, movement reflects personality, and thirdly movement contains a symbolic function and as such can be evidence of unconscious process. Movement therapy started in 1940s in USA with an American dance teacher Marian Chace. She found that some students came to her sessions and didn't progress with the dance, but came back every week and she wondered why this was. When she asked them they said that through the dance they could connect to their emotions and it enabled them to move through their emotional issues and difficult stages in their lives. From this Marian formed therapeutic dance groups in America and that was the foundation of dance movement therapy. The starting point for any kind of movement therapy is the body, and many people feel out of touch with their bodies. Our minds are often busy, full of what we should be doing, making plans, worrying about future events and running over past events, chattering away. It's easy to forget that we also experience ourselves through our body, our senses, taste, touch, sight, hearing and smell are all experiences of our body, when our senses are activated, we also engage with emotions, imaginations and thoughts, when we are embodied we are connected to our body's energies and the flow of sensations, feelings and thoughts. Being embodied means that our energy allows us to express our emotions fully. A healthy child will embody emotions allowing them to flow and move freely, laughter will be from the belly and crying will move through the whole body sometimes shaking to release the sadness. Excitement joy all have bodily reactions. Unfortunately for many of us life's experiences as we grow up cause us to hold back on this emotion.

Movement therapy takes the approach of firstly putting us back in touch with our bodies so that we can recognise sensations, emotions and feelings present in our bodies allowing our bodies to inform us alongside our heads. Once we are connected to our bodies we start to identify where our blockages are, when we have a sense of body awareness we can begin to move. The understanding is that the body holds a kind of energy. In different systems it has been called vital essence or prana, this energy is the vitality of our being. When we become aware of a blockage and consciously move that body part we can start to work with gradually allowing the energy to flow again, memories may come forth and energy may begin to flow freely. Movement therapy is a slow process and could involve just small movements, the emphasis is on authentic movement and moving at the client's own pace.

This blog entry is an edited and abridged version of a talk that Jo Drew, Movement Therapist gave at the launch of The Dispensary, to listen to the whole 10 minute talk on Movement Therapy please click below.

Our next Moving Body Workshop led by Jo Drew is on Saturday 5th July, 10.30 - 12.30 at Nature's Laboratory, 3B Enterprise Way, Whitby. For more details please see 


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