I’m including some links to articles regarding Dance/MovementTherapy. Some of these I may have posted on the GodStrongDance Facebook page. I created this page a couple of years ago and then got involved in graduate school and had to cut back. I’ll be updating this page as time goes on as well. Click here to go to Facebook.
From what I’ve learned about dance therapy is just the need to keep moving on a daily basis. I’m not talking about constantly moving but not at least stretching out your muscles and limbs. Especially, if you have arthritis, movement is essential to maintain good health. Of course, I understand, having arthritis myself, that some days you just can’t. I get it. My body hurts. It’s exhausting dealing with daily chronic pain. But if I let this continue day by day, my body begins to react do my inactivity. Not only physically, but mentally and emotionally, as well. I become depressed and sullen and just do not want to move. But a nice warm shower, or stretching into the star pose, warms my body so moving is easier. Also, I find that walking at least 2 blocks a day will keep my blues away. If I absolutely just cannot get out of the house, I will at least stretch my lower back, my legs, my arms, and I try to move all the joints in my body. I’m kind of like the tin man in that if I don’t move I’ll get rusty.
My journey to licensure and starting my own practice in Psychotherapy. My focus is adults with a history of child abuse, neglect, or abandonment. I’m not officially certified in anything but marriage and family therapy but I’ve got a dancer’s soul and I’ve studied dance since I was 5 years old. I took classes through to college before I changed my life’s focus but have always wanted to use my love and gift of dance MORE.
I wrote the following post back in 2020 when the pandemic first hit and right after I began my career as an Associate Marriage and Family Therapist. I didn’t realize I never actually posted it. Two years later, 2022, I now have the bandwidth to start posting again. And my journey continues…I now facilitate mindful movement five days a week in group therapy with adults with mental illness and substance abuse. Arthritis has slowed me down lately but I’ve got an upcoming medical procedure that hopefully will put me back on my feet. However, I have two knee replacements in my near future, all due to arthritis and excruciating pain. So, again, I’m still a work in progress.
These past few weeks have been very interesting as I watch the world react to the global pandemic. There are all kinds of fears and rumors amid the constant change in our freedom to come and go as we please. As an introvert and one of the “essential employees”, my life really hasn’t changed much. If anything, it’s been easier in some ways. It’s been easier to get to work because there is no bumper to bumper traffic and pretty great finding a parking spot at work since I have to park on the streets of La Jolla. It’s been more difficult to grocery shop but I’ve been turning to online purchasing lately.
I’m doing online worship and it’s great to sit in my living room, or dance with abandon, should the Holy Spirit move me to do so. My back is still an issue and I’ve turned to chiropractic and supplements to reduce the discomfort. I’m still walking even though I’m now experiencing more sciatic pain after the walk. So, I have to be mindful when I move.
This realization sparked the idea of calling my form of therapy, Mindful Movement. I’ve already been implementing it in my work with groups. While there are challenges to working with mental health clients, I have used basic warm-up techniques and isolations to loosen up sedentary muscles and stiff necks. I’m learning to navigate all the different personalities that come with mental illness and slowing gaining rapport and respect of group members.
I have experienced loss. Many losses. Most recently, the loss of Pastor Ray Bentley has stung my heart with the pain of loss. If you don’t know him, he is the pastor and founder of a huge church called Maranatha Chapel. I used to live within 10 minutes of this church and I worshipped there at least twice a week until 2006. I started attending this church in 1997 after my daughter who had recently given her heart to the Lord introduced me to the church. At that time the church was located in Rancho Penasquitos and my husband and I attended one service in that location before they moved into their current location in Rancho Bernardo/4S Ranch. My daughter, husband, and I attended weekly services and Bible studies. Our faith grew. My husband was raised Catholic but had not been inside a church in decades. I had grown up in church and believed in the saving grace of Jesus. However, I had fallen away from practicing or walking in my faith until my husband was diagnosed with lung cancer. A series of events occurred in June 1997 that sent me to my knees and I surrendered my will to God and begged for his help and salvation. Ray Bentley met with me and my husband privately before my husband died and Ray anointed him with oil and prayed over him. Ray met with me and my daughter several times over the months just after my husband’s death. Ray was my pastor and I flourished under his teachings. After my husband died in 1998, I continued to walk faithfully with God and grew my knowledge of the Bible and even lead a women’s home fellowship in my home. My life became about God and following the path that He wants me on.
Fast forward to January 4, 2022, and I learned of the passing of Ray Bentley the day after he died. I was in disbelief, shocked. I was heartbroken. I was instantly, spiritually, back into those years that I had attended Maranatha Chapel and the location that I had lived in for 10 years. As I drove into the area of Rancho Bernardo/Ranch Penasquitos, my soul became heavy with grief even before I arrived at Maranatha Chapel for the memorial service on January 21, 2022. I was caught up to speed on what Ray had been working on when he died. Prior to this time, I had gone through 15 years of trials and tribulations and I have been fellowshipping at Journey Community Church in La Mesa, by the present time. But more on that later…
I attended Journey Community Church that night, Friday night, as I often do and my cousin/roommate met me there and was uplifted by prayer. As I often do, on Sunday, I like to watch streamed online church. Many times, l watch the sermon again from Journey Community Church. This morning, however, I decided to stream Maranatha Chapel’s online service. I was blessed and engulfed in the Spirit. After the sermon was finished, I stood up and looked out of the window at the bright, sunny day, and asked God, who should I hang out with today? The television, still on and streaming from Maranatha Chapel via YouTube, suddenly came alive with Anne Graham Lotz’s sermon at Maranatha Chapel from February 2021. I sat back down.
Anne Graham Lotz was speaking on the Holy Spirit and loneliness. A small laugh escaped me as I turned my attention back to the television. I knew God had just answered my prayer. He wanted me to spend time with Him today. I felt inspired to write this post and share my heart with the world. At Ray’s memorial service, all the awesome speakers who came and spoke, some on video, has awakened that call of discipleship in me. This is profound because at Journey Community Church we have just started a series on discipleship and stepping into that…taking a step forward in faith.
Now if you know anything about Ray Bentley’s teaching you know that one of his common phrases is “step into the story”. This phrase repeatedly has reminded me to take a step in discipleship. I have spent the last 10 or so years completing my education and starting a new career in counseling as a marriage and family therapist. I feel somewhat settled in my position and have been searching for ways to get back involved with the church and resume discipleship. So, as with God, he uses all of our experiences to lead us to Him, and while I mourn the loss of Ray Bentley, I feel reunited with that body of Christ that he has lead for over 20 years and feel the connection with the body of Christ at Journey Community Church.
I’ve known for a while that moving back to the area of Rancho Bernardo/4S Ranch was not what God was calling me to do. I had to leave the memories of my life with Alfredo and raising my daughter behind because there was so much pain involved in that season of my life. My daughter is all grown up, has a family and a career all her own and is walking her own path with the Lord. As I see our paths diverging I have been praying and watching for some kind of direction for my own journey.
As with everything I do, I will continue to lean into the gentle, whisper of the Lord guiding me which way he wants me to go. I continue to struggle with aging and the pain of arthritis but I feel my purpose has come clear. I’ve known since 1997 that my purpose has been to point people to Jesus but the Lord needed to do some deep house cleaning within me. I’m now ready to follow Jesus down my journey’s path to whatever He has got for me. I re-invented myself as a therapist and have been delivered from the earthly desire of chasing after men and basically anything in the secular world. At 62 years old, I have no boundaries between walking with Jesus and sharing Jesus. I am free to be me, a child of God.
As the months and years continue, I will see and experience the unfolding of scripture in the world and fervently wait for Jesus’ return. I will also be a voice in the wilderness leading people to Jesus. For He is coming back soon. I truly believe that. Maybe not in my lifetime, because who knows when God will finally call me home, but certainly in the lifetimes of my grandchildren. And if not, I pray my grandchildren can carry the torch forward to the next generation to continue the faith of Jesus Christ.
So, God used Ray Bentley’s word for the year of Breakthrough and his passing to empower me to take a step in Ed Noble’s current series of authentically following Jesus in my Best Life.
Click the links below to follow Maranatha Chapel and learn the stories of prophecy by Ray Bentley.
I’ve been at my job as an Associate Marriage and Family Therapist for about a year and a half now and my career focus is coming into formulation. Due to COVID, things have changed significantly with my personal goals involving my career. Because of the hoops and requirements of the ADTA, I’m no longer pursuing a certification in dance therapy. I’ve realized my physical body can’t hold up to the rigors dictated by the dance profession and have learned about Somatic Psychotherapy. Below is what I can do using somatic psychotherapy:
“Practitioners of somatic psychotherapy can help individuals both become more aware of these bodily sensations and learn to use therapeutic techniques to release any tension the body is holding. Techniques often used in therapy include breathing exercise and sensation awareness, physical exercise such as dance or other movement, voice work, massage, and grounding exercises. During the session, the person in treatment may be encouraged to reflect on patterns of behavior and identify any impact these patterns may have on any new emotions, experiences, or concerns that come up in therapy.”
So, moving my focus off “dance therapy” and to “Somatic Psychotherapy” affords me the opportunity to immediately begin practicing the principles of somatic psychotherapy without the restrictions of the ADTA. There are other names for the type of therapy I do and want to pursue, such as; body psychology, somatic psychology, and somatic therapy. These are words and phrases I can now utilize without bothering the ADTA and have them calling their lawyers.
I’m doing this weekly with clients at the center at which I work and have a book I use for specific interventions. My education and training in this niche is going to be continually expanding as I learn more and how to apply the principles. I have already seen results by quantifying client’s anxiety and pain levels before I do an intervention. I’ve had great results of lowering anxiety and pain levels in some cases. The more severe the the injury or pain the more time and care that needs to be taken in providing the interventions.
Because my daily work is dictated by my superiors, I have to use other methods of psychotherapy in groups and mainly do talk therapy but I get almost immediate results with interventions in somatic therapy. I prove it to myself every day as I utilize physical activity to help my own mood regulation.
I have surrendered my life to the power of Jesus Christ and in so doing, I have relieved myself of daily anxiety and panic attacks. This is why I am not worried about the Coronavirus outbreak. In fact, I believe it be to an orchestrated event by the major pharmaceutical corporations that have our country in the palm of their hands. The big pharmaceutical companies have the government by their shorthairs. I believe the virus outbreaks are being led by the very companies who are producing the antibodies and vaccinations to control it. I think it’s been going on for decades. Remember SARS? Everyone was panicking about that virus outbreak. Yes, some people died and perhaps those people were in the demography of those susceptible to the virus. In any event, I will not panic or alter my life in any way, except maybe extra care washing my hands, which I do a lot of anyway.
I’m not one to discuss politics and I have turned all this stuff over to God. I deal with my small world, compared to the world in general, with the resources God has given me to do life. Panicking about the “virus outbreak”, as some look at it, will do nothing more than holding a grudge against someone else. It is on the grudge-bestower that finds strife and struggle in their heart and mind. Just because you’re in a panic, that does not mean that I, too, should panic. It’s like forgiveness. Not forgiving someone just hurts yourself, just as getting in a panic about the spread of disease will not help yourself.
If you truly believe in our Creator, our Lord and Savior, then you aren’t afraid and you are not panicking. The Bible prophecies about these types of world events. It is all because evil runs our world but those who do not succumb to it will inherit a crown in heaven.
All we can do is take care of ourselves and be smart and practice proper hygiene. This is the way I can control my own small world around me. If people would just understand that, they would not panic. Are you dying of coronavirus? Is a close family member or friend dead because of it? I am deeply sorry for your loss but panicking will not make any difference to you. My panic will not bring back your loved ones.
So, it came as quite an annoyance that my dance therapy class I was prepared to attend in April, has been rescheduled until August. This caused me to have to cancel my flight reservations and my AirBnB reservations. I am hoping for a full refund from AirBnB because it was not my choice to cancel my reservations. Southwest Airlines has given me a credit for the two flights I had reserved for the weekends of the class. I would have preferred to have a full refund because I am not so sure I want to continue on this certification track. Regardless of whether or not the American Dance Therapy Association gives me the credentials as a dance therapist, I will still be incorporating somatic psychotherapy into my practice as a mental health therapist.
Somatic comes from the word, soma, which means body. So somatic therapy is body therapy, therefore, Somatic Psychotherapy. There is even a book to guide me as I implement the principles of movement in my therapy sessions. I discovered this week at my job that one of my co-workers has a degree in dance therapy from UCLA. UCLA used to have a Dance Therapy department but closed over a decade ago. So, my co-worker got her degree, apparently, before UCLA cut dance therapy from their curriculum. So, she introduced me to the book, which I have ordered from Amazon.
I am already using sound therapy in my sessions with clients and have been deciding ways to begin implementing movement in the sessions, as well. I am not certain what I am going to do about the class in Berkeley. It is a very political thing with the ADTA and there are harsh penalties, legal ones, if I call my work dance therapy or refer to myself as a dance therapist. I am not making any major decisions at this time but suffice it to say that I am not happy about the class getting canceled for April. I was actually looking forward to it because it was dealing with high-functioning adult clients. I counsel only adults at this time and I was looking forward to learning how to use dance therapy with adults. My last class dealt with children and adolescents. I can specialize in somatic psychotherapy and use the same tools and principles as dance therapy
The Lord has provided me with a co-worker who I can bounce ideas off of and learn from as she is a seasoned addiction counselor. So, I am still working on a plan to incorporate movement in my sessions. I have to meet the clients where they are at and some of them are not so high-functioning, so the class I was about to take, may not have worked with my clients anyway.
Also, since I have only three weeks on the job, I wasn’t happy with having to ask my supervisor if she would support my leave from work for a couple of days. So, it is all working out and I am NOT panicking. She was supportive but she’s happy now that I don’t have to take time off work.
I am fasting from violent movies and shows in honor of Lent. I have not been watching shows like Homicide Hunter, Forensic Files, and other real-life murder stories. And, it is interesting to note that I am much calmer and have a more positive outlook on life in general. I also don’t get sucked into binge-watching television anymore and I’ve been studying my psychotherapy books instead. I’m also resetting my head to where it was over a decade ago now. I’m choosing to cut anything out of my life that draws me away from God. I guess I had backslid a bit.
But… I am back. I have been redeemed by the power of the Lord. The picture posted above was taken on the way home from work one day. Praise the Lord!
Like the baby seals that are currently being birthed and raised at La Jolla Cove, I am slowly making my way as an associate marriage and family therapist. I feel so unsure of myself and am so hard on myself and I expect to be awesome immediately. I had some moments of feelings of sheer failure and moments of confidence and success.
The problem is me. The environment of the job is great! Everyone is super nice and helpful and everyone loves the Clinical Director, my Supervisor. She is so kind and understanding of my insecurities and tries to tell me that I cannot possibly expect myself to be awesome right out of the gate. She is right, of course. The thing is all the old feelings of incompetence that I had during my practicum training came barreling back to me as I reflected on my first two weeks on the job.
As I sat in the recliner chair, with three pillows under my knees, to ease the chronic pain in my back, I realized what I needed to do to be successful at this job. I need to interact more with the clients and work on my rapport with everyone. A lot of them smoke, and so does my boss, and she will hang out with them because of the designated smoking area. I get triggered to want to smoke when I smell smoke or I’ll get nauseous because of the smoke and have to step away from the area. For that reason, I really didn’t put myself out there except in the group sessions when I was facilitating the group.
My boss had me doing psycho-education groups this week using the curriculum from the treatment center. Then she assigned me some utilization reviews on clients that were not mine. These URs, as they are referred to, were like the case conceptualizations in grad school. I wasn’t too confident in my abilities to do those and they took me literally days to complete. I couldn’t do them in class, I had to take them home and think about the case and study it. I got good grades on them but I was not prepared to do them while I was doing groups and seeing clients. Being part time limited my hours to work and most of the day is taken up running groups and seeing clients. To make a long story short, I got into this mindset of “oh my god she’s going to fire me”, because I am not getting the URs done. I expect perfection out of myself and tear myself down if I don’t grasp concepts or can’t complete a task quickly. I know. It’s a problem.
My supervisor was very supportive and understanding and told me everything was going to be OK, that I am still learning and to just take a deep breath and basically soldier on. She is overworked and trying to bring on new staff and expand the treatment center at the same time. The owner has already vacated his office which is now being used as a group therapy room. Three or four people, besides myself, have been hired in the past two weeks. Offices are being moved around and switched between people. The office that I am in is temporary until a full-time licensed therapist is hired. There is only one licensed therapist besides my boss and the rest of the staff are associate therapists (me and one other) and behavioral health technicians. The BHTs, as we call them, are numerous and far out number the therapists. They are charged with the daily operations of getting clients to their groups, therapy, and basically dealing directly with the clients all day long.
As therapists, we do group therapy and individual therapy and then we have to write progress notes on, not only our individual therapy sessions with our clients, but also for each client in the group therapy session. It’s a lot of documentation. It’s like writing, which I enjoy, but I’ve never been quick to create papers and such because I overthink a lot when it’s documenting client sessions. I mean, I have to overthink it as I analyze and assess the clients but my stage of being a novice in the role of therapist makes me overthink my overthinking.
My problem has been the environment and ergonomics of where I am working on my progress notes. Because of the back pain, the most comfortable position for me to write in is the position I am now currently in. Laying in a recliner, half sitting-up with pillows under my knees, is the optimum position to keep my back happy. Once my back is happy, I can concentrate on my thoughts about what I’m doing instead of thinking about how my back hurts.
So, my plan is this weekend is to get some relaxation and maybe study other utilization review notes and practice them. I’ve also decided that I’m going to use music and mindful visualizations in the beginning of groups to settle the clients down before I start the curriculum. They are all people being treated for their addictions, and some are also being treated for mental illness, as well. We call them the dually-diagnosed. It’s challenging.
More than anything, I have realized that I must “treat” myself first and get into a calm and controlled space, before I walk into group therapy and try to connect with the clients. I really wish my supervisor would let me shadow more meetings as she only allowed me to shadow 2 sessions with one therapist. There are other groups being run by Registered Alcohol and Drug Counselors (RADC) that I would like to sit in on. I believe this will be a way to get to know all the clients and perhaps connect with them more, without hanging out in the smoking section.
But I must be true to myself and do the breathing exercises and mindfulness that I teach to my clients when they are having stress. It’s all about self-care. It’s paramount to a successful career in mental health therapy. I need to make sure I’m taken care of, so then I can help others. Breathe in….breathe out…breathe in…breathe out… now picture yourself floating on an inner tube, at the beach in shallow water, with no one else around, except the sounds of the ocean and the rise and fall of the waves…..
I am astounded by God’s agape love. Less than 24-hours past the point where I thought God had closed all doors to getting hired as a therapist, I was offered a position at the company I most wanted to work with.
Yesterday, I was looking through my emails for companies who were hiring and I came upon one that stated that a company was looking for a therapist. I had just had two interviews with this company in the past two weeks! I had not heard back from them. Discouraged but determined, I filled out the application again and wrote a new specific cover letter stating that I had been interviewed before. In this cover letter, I requested a response because, as I told them, I knew I could do the job and that I just needed someone to believe in me and hire me. After I submitted the application and cover letter, I decided to go for a walk around my neighborhood.
I had gotten to my lowest point after months of trying to stay hopeful and positive and really had resigned myself to the idea that no one was going to hire me as a therapist. I cried out to God and pleaded with him to just talk to me and tell me what I should do. I took a long walk around my neighborhood and later posted my thoughts about my career on my blog, GodStrongDance.
This morning around 10:00 a.m., I received a call from the company I just written to yesterday, offering me a part-time job as therapist. All this time I had been just waiting for some company, someone, to believe in me and hire me as a therapist. In my blog post, I talked about how God had revealed to me that he had given me all I needed to and that I just needed to believe in myself and give birth to the things he was showing me I could do.
The details of this job offer are perfect for me. I have a view of the ocean as I drive to the location. The view from where I’m traveling is beautiful. My view of the ocean is really indescribable because it goes much deeper to a spiritual level. On a clear day, the color of the ocean is the most beautiful blue turquoise that I have ever seen. During my drive to the second interview, there were a few clouds in the sky and the ocean looked a different shade of blue, more like a baby blue. But the ocean, is the number one perfect place for me to work because I love it so much and my office will be less than a mile to ocean.
The second perfect detail is the fact that it is part-time. Because here again, God is giving me time to do GodStrongDance on the side and not lose sight of he wants for me. The third perfect detail is that I will be working with a population of adults, which was my ultimate goal. I’ve long been averse to working with children and always just wanted to work with adults. The fourth perfect detail is that it pays well. I won’t state the number because I feel it’s tacky and the amount doesn’t really matter. The point is that it is a livable wage and will allow me to continue my life just as I have been living it, economically anyway.
The fifth perfect detail is that I will have an opportunity to facilitate creative dance at the same time I am practicing psychotherapy. Due to legal reasons, until I am a registered dance movement therapist (R-DMT), I cannot call it “dance therapy” but I can just call it teaching creative dance until then. The sixth perfect detail is that I don’t have to report to work the first day until 10:00 a.m. I am not a morning person and that has been my assumption all along that I would have to get up early every morning again. I did it for more than 40 years so I know I can do it. It is just one of those things that I wanted to change like I changed my career.
I am actually not sure of the regular start times for my position but I do know that I will be given the opportunity to go full-time after a trial period. Which leads me to the seventh perfect detail of this job. As lacking in self-confidence as I am about actually being successful in this career, a part-time temporary position is really perfect all around. People need to be treated by someone who is confident in their abilities. I’m certain that confidence will come to me.
I have heard that the number seven is the perfect spiritual number because God created the world in seven days. So, there are the seven perfect details of my new job.
God is GOOD ALL THE TIME. He loves me so much he has put me in the perfect position to begin my career as a therapist. Never give up. Never lose hope. God’s got you. And me!!
It has been such a struggle to find employment. Even after spending thousands of dollars on my education, even with a Master’s degree, I can’t seem to get hired anywhere. This frustration has led to me to do some deep soul searching. God seems to be opening doors to pursue this whole GodStrongDance thing where the music used is all worship music and the focus is on praising God. I know that Jesus has put his spirit in me, so I just need to believe that it is he who guides me and keeps the passion alive. While my first couple of dance events that I produced in 2016 was not successful monetarily wise, I did learn a lot about what it is that God wants me to do and what he doesn’t want me to do. He will bless me with this endeavor as long as I keep the focus on him. While I worry about the marketability of such events, I do realize that God will provide and to let that happen organically, (since forcing it obviously has not garnered any results).
So discouraged as I was, I forced myself to get out of the house and take a walk. Of course, I always take my music with me and I listen to various playlists on my phone which includes mostly contemporary Christian music. It’s funny how the songs I have added to my playlists just fit right in with my mood. I’m struggling to get someone to believe in me and hire me . The song “God Only Knows” recorded by King & Country says it so beautifully:
Wide awake while the world is sound asleepin’ Too afraid of what might show up while you’re dreamin’ Nobody, nobody, nobody sees you Nobody, nobody, nobody would believe you Every day you try to pick up all the pieces All the memories, they somehow never leave you Nobody, nobody, nobody sees you Nobody, nobody, nobody would believe you
God only knows what you’ve been through God only knows what they say about you God only knows how it’s killing you But there’s a kind of love that God only knows God only knows what you’ve been through God only knows what they say about you God only knows the real you There’s a kind of love that God only knows
My steps lightened and so did my mood as I realized (again) God’s got me. This walk was very much needed to get me out of my head and allow God to reveal his plans for me. I was struck by the idea that God’s Spirit resides in me and is giving me the power to do his will for my life. He has given me the talent, skill, training, and passion to pursue this GodStrongDance thing. He has even given me time to make it all happen! I realized that I am financially independent, I have no boss telling me what to do, and the only thing stopping me is me. All I have to do is start believing in myself and start taking the necessary steps to fulfill his will for my life.
I encountered a couple of neighbors who live in the same area of the complex as I, and after hearing the woman say that being a nurse is who she is and that she was born to be a nurse, I realized that is how I feel about dancing. I was born to dance. I am a dancer and I need to keep that as truth when I start getting these thoughts about how I’m not good enough to get hired as a therapist. Maybe it’s because I have been trying to be a therapist and not the dance therapist that I really want to be. I have been trying to be someone I think employers would want to hire instead of just doing my own dance therapy out in the open, like the gym here in my complex. It has a ballet barre and I visited it midway through my walk.
As I stretched, I allowed my self to use this barre as I had been trained. I did some deep leg stretches and torso stretches and marveled at how flexible I still am despite all the arthritis that continues to eat away at my joints. I thought, well, if no one wants to hire me as a therapist, I will just be a therapist to myself. After all, grad school opened up a lot of old wounds and I’m still basically recovering from that. So, I will do my own dance therapy with myself. I will practice what I preach and develop my own method to use dance as therapy for myself. At least this way, I can keep moving forward and keep the focus on improving myself and not tearing myself down for not being good enough.
I can’t call myself a dance therapist yet because I have two more courses before I am eligible to start an internship. It is only after fulfilling this requirement that I can legally say I am practicing dance therapy. So, the idea was put out there that dance therapy used to be called creative dance. I can have a creative dance event and still use the principles of movement without calling it therapy. I’ll have one more course to go after the upcoming one in April before I can start referring to what I want to do as dance therapy.
So, plans are germinating in my mind about producing another GodStrongDance event and having it at a studio that has been offered to me to use. If that isn’t a God-inspired offer, I don’t know what else to call it. It’s those things that make me realize that God has opened the door for me and I just have to walk through it. My only limitation is my own self and the belief in myself. I just have to believe that I’m on a path towards Glory and keep Jesus as the center of my being.
I was feeling very disconnected from the DMT (Dance Movement Therapy) field and was beginning to question my pursuit of board certification. Then I read an article by a practicing dance movement therapist on Facebook about the exact same feelings I was having. I became inspired. This person had a blog of her own and was questioning herself because she had not felt like writing anything about DMT. An associate told her to start there…with the feeling of being disconnected. While I am not sure she used the same word, disconnected, as I, the message is the same. Where do I fit into Dance Movement Therapy field? How does DMT fit into my pursuit of licensure as a marriage and family therapist? I am finding during the interview process that more and more people are pleased to hear that I am studying DMT and welcome its inclusion in treatment modalities.
When I attended the 6 day intensive in January for DMT for children and adolescents, my physical body, namely my lower back, started to complain. As per usual in dance classes, the participants end up sitting in a circle on the floor while the instructor shares a few words of wisdom before the next time we all get up from the floor and start moving again. This has proved to be very difficult for me as a middle-aged woman with degenerative disc disease in my lumbar spine. I was encouraged by the teacher to find a way to do DMT without hurting my body. We solved the problem of me getting up and down from the floor by having me sit in a chair at the edge of the dance floor and the other dancers and teacher placed themselves in a semi circle around me. The teacher who is about seven years older than I would sit in a chair during the times when she was observing us move. So, it really is up to me to advocate for myself when my body is hurting. I can still move pretty well but the common movement dancers do in these types of classes is sometimes lay on the floor and roll and do movements while down on the floor. Then another part of their dance they will stand up from, the floor or do a cool transition from the floor to standing. That is something that I am just going to have to omit from my dancing because it hurts too much and I can’t do the move quickly or gracefully any more.
That all being said I can still move well and express myself on the dance floor which gives me a great amount of confidence and pleasure. I learned a lot about facilitating dance therapy sessions during this last class I took and my brain is filled with ideas of how to design my own sessions. In fact, a suggestion was made to volunteer my time at assisted living facilities or community centers and just start doing “creative dance” sessions. I cannot use the dance movement therapy label until I am a registered dance movement therapist and I have been advised that the organization that oversees DMT could potentially bar me from practicing DMT for life. So, to work around that problem until I actually land an internship, I have to call my sessions “creative dance” and not dance movement therapy. I need three more dance movement therapy classes before I can seek an internship for dance movement therapy and start calling it DMT.
Most of the students in the class I attended in January were already practicing dance movement therapy or they were dance teachers. I was told I need to be actively dancing to qualify for certification. Since I have not been actively dancing in my own life for the past eight years, I need to get back to a regular class or activity outside my own living room that involves dance. I will not achieve certification from the American Dance Therapy Association unless I am actively dancing. So, this is why the idea of me volunteering somewhere came about. Since I still am not gainfully employed, paying for lessons or even going out regularly dancing is a financial issue. So, I need to find something that gets me dancing weekly at the least.
In the meantime, I am recovering from surgery for a torn rotator cuff and just getting back to being active again has become my new goal. I finally am able to swim again and I am slowly working my way back to 100% range of motion. I’m pretty much there already there but after an hour of swimming, I realized I’m still in rehab mode. So, in-between looking for work and writing a paper on my recent DMT class, I will be hitting the swimming pool on a regular basis now. Swimming also helps my back so it will be interesting to see if this helps my back during DMT classes and sessions.
The picture I have posted is of the Coronado bridge from the air as I was arriving in San Diego from my trip to Berkeley, where the class was.
MOVING TOWARD COHESION: GROUP DANCE/MOVEMENT THERAPY WITH CHILDREN IN PSYCHIATRY
The above picture includes me in the group, sitting on the floor in front, and the other participants of the recent class I took in Berkeley this past month. The teacher, Bonnie Bernstein, is standing directly behind me in black.
The article written in the Arts in Psychotherapy magazine speaks to dance therapists about the child in an inpatient setting in a psychiatric hospital or setting. Children in this setting are faced with chaotic schedules of interaction with adults as they come and go throughout the day and can trigger feelings of abandonment. Connecting with the child where that child is emotionally is paramount to helping the child. What is most important is to deal with the here and now and stay present with the children and not fall into looking at causes of issues or histories of them. This is a process that energizes the group – to remain present in the moment. Dance movement therapy facilitates changes in movement behavior which can precipitate changes in the psyche. For a successful group to flow, cohesion of group participants is essential. No one should feel left out and all should feel that they are heard and have a turn at whatever activity is presented. Another successful element of group therapy with children is the structure and predictability of the group. This makes the participants feel secure enough to open up to issues as hand. How one feels about moving depends on the individual’s mental image of their own body and the more secure a child feels within their own body the freer they will be in session. Therefore, one of the first tasks of group therapists is to explore each participants body image and determine the emotional attitude about one’s body using movement as the medium. Giving participants new movement activities can facilitate awareness of their bodies. It also gives them the experience of becoming aware of others in the room and how others are moving. After the moving is completed, a verbal discussion of the experience with the participants helps to develop cognitive integration of their emotions and behaviors.
The Use of Dramatic Activities to Facilitate Dance Therapy with Adolescents
Research has shown that using dance therapy with adolescents needs to be more structured when the adolescent suffers a mood or behavior disorder. Making a circle of all participants is rarely a good idea with this type of population and instead need task-oriented movements, structured movement games and complex rules. Drama can be included with movement therapy and works well when adolescents are free to choose a character they identify with and are enacting actual events they are familiar with. Leading adolescents is more effective when the therapist is active, organizes the activity well, emphasizes the rules and clarifies roles and tasks. Research has shown that a “policing” style of leadership does not work well with this population. Several dramatic activities are illustrated as examples of adding drama into the dance therapy session. One of these activities is having participants chose an adverb and a selected member will be chosen as the one to guess the adverb based on the movements exhibited by the participants. Another activity is the Chair Game where participants take turn guessing what famous person is sitting on the chair. The goal for the dance therapist is to have a wide variety of body orienting techniques and adding drama to these movements “allows for a ‘finer tuning’ by the dance therapist on the spectrum of movement, imagery, and verbal expression.” These techniques work in two “arenas” by internally decreasing emotional and feeling states and externally by proving a safe environment for the participant. Methods of labeling, guessing, freezing, and linear space are used to accomplish the decrease of emotions. Aggression is contained by using competition among teams and being put in the spotlight for an activity. Dramatic activities “provide a rich medium” for exploring and integrating identity, social roles, and developmental issues.