Marlee Simon, MT-BC, NMT
What is Dance Movement Therapy?
Many of us are often living on ‘auto-pilot,’ feeling disconnected, and/or constantly thinking about past or future events. Even though we are navigating various tasks throughout the day, we are commonly disconnected from being aware of our bodies. It can be really challenging to stay present while managing our own lives, caring for our loved ones, and trying to keep up with current events.
Dance Movement Therapy (DMT) is an expressive therapy that uses movement and body-awareness interventions to support clients in developing a 'mind-body connection.' Dance can often be overwhelming and anxiety-provoking for clients. However, dance movement therapy puts more emphasis on the movement and connecting to the body than on the dance aspect.
There are many movement and body-awareness interventions that dance movement therapists are trained to facilitate. Whether facilitating individual or group dance movement therapy, dance movement therapists focus on helping clients to be more present in their lives. This could look like helping a client to connect to their body by focusing solely on their breathing. Or, if a client wants to engage in movement, a dance movement therapist will encourage clients to engage in non-verbal movement and expression and will provide time for processing the experience. Additionally, dance movement therapists help clients to be flexible – both in their bodies and in their minds. With those who are more resistance or apprehensive about the process, dance movement therapists utilize techniques to encourage being present and mindful while completing everyday tasks (i.e. going for walks, chores, driving, etc.).
Among the many communities that dance movement therapists work with (i.e. those dealing with physical, mental health, cognitive, and social issues), dance movement therapy is significantly beneficial for trauma survivors. After experiencing a traumatic event, the energy of the trauma becomes stored in our bodies until it can be discharged through movement and bodily excretion. Traumatic events can often lead to feelings of disassociation – disconnection between mind and body. When working with clients who have experience trauma, dance movement therapists help them to reconnect with themselves by bringing back a mind-body connection that was lost. When people experience trauma, they do not always have the words to express themselves. However, dance movement therapy allows for their healing to be non-verbal and experiential.
Rakhi Shingala, MA, LCPC, BC-DMT is a dance movement therapist and independent contractor with Harmonic Changes Therapy Services. She is available to facilitate dance movement therapy and counseling in Chicago, and only dance movement therapy (no counseling) in Los Angeles.
Born and raised in India, Rakhi loved to dance and strongly connected to the therapeutic and storytelling elements of expressive movement. She moved to the United States after earning her master’s degree in Psychology in India. While working as a counselor in a hospital in Chicago. Rakhi was introduced to a dance therapy program and essentially found her “calling.” She has experience working in hospital settings, private practice, and as an independent contractor with children, adults, and families. Rakhi is also a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC) in Chicago and integrates talk therapy into her dance movement therapy practice, when appropriate.