Movement therapy is a form of psychotherapy based on the concept of using the body as a healing force for emotional distress. It enhances the physical, mental, emotional, cognitive and social well-being of an individual. Movement Therapists assist clients to navigate their bodies and empower their emotional space. All kinds of elements that keep a person rooted are at play here – professional life, physical life, personal life, emotional life, social life and your cognitive self, and we address every aspect. Everybody has issues to deal with. The client’s emotional state has a direct impact on his mental and physical states. For example, if a person is depressed, the spine droops downwards and perhaps the chest concaves inward. In such a case, the Movement Therapist embodies the client’s posture and makes subtle changes to it, effectively creating a change in the way the person perceives themselves. So for example, the therapist would straighten out her back and shoulders, and engage the depressed client in a mirroring process.
While moving together, there are many changes that occur at an expressive, metaphoric, energetic level, which gives the therapist non-verbal information. These non-verbal cues are further interpreted by the therapist and the therapist then responds using new movement to create success in the body and psyche. The inner thoughts of the client unfold through a cathartic process. Although this dyad of straightening back and shoulders creates incremental success for the patient, imagine if we change and fine-tune every aspect of the patient’s movement sequence creating a whole new way of functioning for the person.
I often get asked how Movement Therapy is different from yoga or dance or Tai Chi. Yoga makes use of definitive postures or asanas which help the person in improving health. So to benefit completely, the person has to attain those specific postures. Therapy means to repair or build. It means working through a specific issue by delving deep and understanding the need for repair. Although dance and Tai Chi have healing properties and therapeutic value, they are very different from movement therapy. Dance employs techniques and has aesthetic considerations that form the core of formal dance education. Learning dance has numerous benefits as does running, going to the gym or even playing a sport. Similarly, Tai Chi prescribes definitive movements which enhance over-all well-being. However, it does not employ specialized psychotherapeutic interventions or treatment methods. Movement therapy is psychotherapy using movement. We work on developing specific goal-oriented movement interventions to help individuals find the best possible outcomes in dealing with specific issues they may face. There are specific issues at hand that is addressed by delving deep into the core problem for repair.
In Movement therapy, all movements are organic and come from the client. So first we understand what the client’s issue is through non-verbal communication and then we fine-tune their existing movement patterns. We assist them in experiencing different gesture/postures, and textures in body movement while making them comfortable and engaging them. We read, interpret and then offer solutions by subtle changes to the clients existing movement patterns and thus create favorable outcomes for the client.
Movement therapists work primarily on the psychological issues that contribute to a certain condition, injury or illness using movement interventions. How it is different from Physiotherapy is another frequent query. Physiotherapists work primarily with physical interventions that remediate patient disabilities and impairments in movement. We study movement, we are able to understand the why and how and what of movement. A movement therapist acts as a catalyst in the room to reflect for the patient what is going on internally and then interprets and offers solutions for positive outcomes.
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