Dance Movement Psychotherapy (DMP)

“Creative well-being through movement and music” is the phrase we adopted at Catch21 to describe DMP, a holistic psychotherapeutic approach that encourages self-expression through movement and freestyle dance. It is a non-directive, non-invasive, often non-verbal, creative arts therapy.

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Dance Movement Psychotherapy (DMP)

“Creative well-being through movement and music” is the phrase we adopted at Catch21 to describe DMP, a holistic psychotherapeutic approach that encourages self-expression through movement and freestyle dance. It is a non-directive, non-invasive, often non-verbal, creative arts therapy.

Book Now

Constance Novis RDMP

Constance Novis, B Mus Perf (Toronto), MA DMP is a graduate of the University of Roehampton’s MA Degree programme in Dance Movement Psychotherapy, and a member of the UK Association for Dance Movement Psychotherapy (ADMP UK). To date, she has nearly 900 hours experience in placement, 250 of which were direct clinical hours facilitating DMP sessions in groups and one to one. She has worked with adolescents with special educational needs, with young people and adults in a psychiatric acute community team setting, and in a national mental health charity with people with severe and enduring mental health issues who are living in the Recovery Model in the community. She also works with people with complex needs, intellectual difficulties, Autism Spectrum Disorder and mental health issues. Constance also has a specialist interest in using embodiment to understand and manage transgenerationally transmitted trauma. She

A little about dance movement psychotherapy

So, what is DMP then?

DMP can be offered on a one-to-one basis or in groups. The dance movement psychotherapist (also called a DMP) offers a space for the group (or individual) to work through their private anxieties and conflicted feelings safely and without fear of being judged or ridiculed. The DMP is not an authority figure but an emphatic ally, there to hold a safe space, to listen, to meet the young person where they are, to develop a trusting relationship, and to create an environment that encourages trust between group members. Because the sessions are psychotherapeutic, they are absolutely confidential. The creative improvised activities used engage the sensory, motor, and emotional systems, as well as releasing tension and increasing relaxation.

A collaborative, empowering process

Our physical movements show us what we are holding in our body. A DMP is trained to detect evidence of interruptions to psychomotor development when trauma possibly occurred, which may be causing symptoms or destructive habitual patterns now. By moving or dancing with a group member, a DMP can pick up on what the person is feeling and find opportunities to make subtle interventions to help, as appropriate. Movement is also the body’s way of offering up information, often outside of our awareness and sometimes in very powerful metaphors. The DMP can pick up on these metaphors and share them with the group member as appropriate. Sessions are encouraging and empowering, avoiding the young person feeling helpless or being told what they must do and how they must do it. In this way, they are valued collaborator in their psychotherapeutic process, shaping and driving their own recovery journey.

“Constance made a great contribution to my overall recovery.”

Brief description of DMP session

Check in

At Catch 21, a DMP, one or two psychologically trained supporters, and the participants sit together in a circle. This is important: in a circle, everyone is equal and we can all see one another. Participants each have a few minutes to share what is on their mind, either verbally or, if it’s easier, offering a movement or gesture that describes how they’re feeling. Each participant is also invited to say what they feel they need to support them self and what they hope to gain from the session.

Warm-up

We work our way through the body gently waking up our body in preparation for movement, sometimes using props such as balls, tensor bands and stretch cloths, to name a very few examples. The physical warm-up offers the possibility of getting out of our heads and having a break from anxious and stressed thinking, worrying, hopelessness, or thoughts of self-harm. Guiding our minds away from our thoughts and into our body is a type of embodiment, which is a hallmark of DMP. With time, the body warm-up can even be led by group members.

Middle Section

Now the group members are invited to decide what they would like to do. Some may prefer to explore possibilities on their own or with others: they can dance to music, play ball games, experiment with the props, draw, or chat with others. What is most important is that group members have a chance to experience ‘just being me’, and not the self caught up in painful anxieties, self-destructive thoughts, and disconnected from their own body and the world around them. Depending on the overall mood of the group, sessions can be contemplative and still or spontaneously energetic, playful and chaotic.

Check out and close down

We return to the circle for the final section of the group. Members are each invited to talk about how things feel now compared to when they first came into the room, or anything else they would like to share. Or not: no one is ever put on the spot. Once again, perhaps offering a movement or gesture will express more than words. A number of movement interventions can be used by the DMP to help members process their experience and manage their feelings so they feel safely contained to go back out into the world until the next session.

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