Sponsored by the HealthcareTrainingInstitute.org providing Quality Education since 1979
Add to Shopping Cart

Enhancing Your Therapy with Gestalt Approaches
Gestalt Therapy continuing education counselor CEUs

Section 25
Gestalt Techniques in Dance Therapy

CEU Question 25 | CEU Answer Booklet | Table of Contents | Gestalt
Social Worker CEUs, Counselor CEUs, Psychologist CEs, MFT CEUs

Theories in psychology that have been most influential in the field of dance therapy include Reichian, psychoanalytic, Gestalt, object relations, humanistic, family systems, and Adlerian. Levy (1988) noted a trend toward increasing theoretical eclecticism and integration in the field of dance therapy. However, there are some key conceptual themes that are common to most dance therapy approaches. Human beings are assumed to have unconscious memories, feelings, and motivations that need to be introduced and integrated into individuals' conscious awareness (P. L. Bernstein, 1986). Furthermore, it is assumed that some unconscious material, especially memories formed during preverbal stages of development and bodily trauma, are stored in the body and are more easily accessed through physical expression (Levy, 1988). Within the holistic conception of the individual conscious intellect, the emotions, the unconscious, and the body are considered interconnected, with the experiencing and processing of physical experiences believed to positively affect emotional and cognitive growth and functioning (P. L. Bernstein, 1986; Espenak, 1981).

We undertook this qualitative study in an attempt to begin to understand how dance therapy effects change in clients' lives. The purpose of this phenomenological exploration was to explore the lived experience and meaning of dance therapy for women who found that this form of therapy contributed to their personal growth and healing. The question that guided this research was, "What is the lived experience and meaning of dance therapy for individuals who found it to be facilitative of their personal growth and healing?"

Participants were required to have been involved in individual or group dance therapy that was facilitated by a certified dance therapist. Individuals were screened through telephone conversations, and the first 6 women who met the inclusion criteria were included in the study. However, when it became apparent during the data collection that 5 of the 6 participants had histories of child sexual abuse, we decided to limit our analysis to the 5 abuse survivors.

Six themes that were common to the participants emerged from the data analysis. The words of the participants are used in the following descriptions of the themes and subthemes to more accurately capture the essence and meaning of their dance therapy experiences. To enhance reporting, each subtheme is italicized within the thematic descriptions.

Theme 1: Reconnection to Their Bodies
All of the women in this study mentioned having felt disconnected to varying degrees from their bodies. Some spoke about a rejecting attitude they had toward their bodies, either because it seemed fragile or because it had attracted a child abuser. As one participant put it, "I thought of my body as this unfortunate accessory … it has just caused me trouble … it always felt like the enemy." Others talked about a general sense of not having been present in their bodies. At the extreme were various descriptions of dissociation, which seemed to be related to experiences of childhood sexual abuse. For example, one participant reflected on her sense of having been a collection of pieces: "I always felt sort of fractured, fragmented, like parts of my body are on different planes and they're not connected to me personally." In fact, having experienced various other forms of more traditional "talk" therapies, these women specifically sought dance therapy as a means to help them reconnect to their bodies. It is not surprising, then, that a sense of bodily reconnection was an extremely prominent theme running through the transcriptions of each of the participants. All of the women talked about how dance therapy involved a process of getting back into their bodies. By becoming more connected to their bodies, the women were able to become more "present" in and more comfortable with the range of energetic and emotional sensations in their bodies. In reestablishing a connection with their bodies, the participants reported feeling an increased sense of acceptance and care of their bodies.

The participants also talked about their previous tendencies to cope with physical and psychological discomfort by "going into their heads" through intellectualizing, minimizing, and denying. The participants reported that, unlike traditional talk therapies, dance therapy offered them a way to bypass this defensive reaction to discomfort, because this therapeutic process was rooted in bodily expression. As one participant observed, "I think the moving repeatedly helps you to stay in your body, and not go back into your head."

Theme 2: Permission to Play
The women in the study had experienced talk-based therapies as sometimes serious and hard work and were surprised that play was encouraged as an integral part of the dance therapy process. One woman found that, contrary to her expectations, she really enjoyed the dance therapy sessions. She remarked, "I thought, aren't we supposed to be crying and upset and angry?" The women described the playful element of this therapy as "delightful" and "exciting." They experienced it as a means of recapturing a sense of carefree youth that had been lost to them over the years. This aspect was particularly significant for some women who remembered childhood years in which play and fun were lacking or forbidden. Through dance therapy, these women were able to experience, as adults, a sense of the type of playfulness that is characteristic of childhood. The participants noted especially, how the playfulness of dance therapy provided a balance to and a relief from some of the emotionally heavier aspects of therapeutic work. As one participant said, "There was at least one moment every time I went where I just had a good time. And that was a neat thing to learn, that I could do some healing work and it didn't have to be totally serious and really hard all the time." Indeed, that play and work could coexist and, in fact, that both together could lead to healing and growth was considered a significant new insight by the women in this study.

Theme 3: Sense of Spontaneity
Spontaneous movement was mentioned as an important aspect of the dance therapy experience by the women in the study. When they spoke about spontaneous body movement, the participants described movement that was free, self-determined, natural, and uncontrived. They spoke about a progression during their dance therapy experiences toward increased spontaneity in their body movements and toward overcoming the various obstacles they encountered along the way. One obstacle that emerged from the women's stories of their group dance therapy experiences was what one participant referred to as having an "outer focus." They reflected on how, at times, their concern with "what others might think" about they way they moved led to self-conscious and constrained body movement.

Theme 4: Sense of Struggle
All of the women in this study reported that their experience of dance therapy was infused with a sense of struggle. Initially this involved the unfamiliarity of this type of therapy. Many found dance therapy to be new and strange and used words like "challenging," "difficult," and "uncomfortable" to describe their experiences. Some felt inhibited and embarrassed at the idea of dance itself, whereas others felt apprehensive because this approach to therapy was non-traditional and represented uncharted territory. As discussed previously, the women struggled with the discomfort of being seen by others. They felt self-conscious and worried about looking foolish. For some, the experience went beyond embarrassment to a more acute sense of vulnerability and exposure. One woman's metaphor poignantly conveyed this feeling: "Moving is like opening the book … it wasn't just like opening the book, it was like ripping the book open. It was really difficult." Some of the women also reported that they struggled with how to deal with painful memories and feelings that arose during their dance therapy sessions. Many talked about how their bodies contained information about past traumas and about how that powerful and sometimes shameful material surfaced while they were engaged in the therapeutic movements. Anticipating the emergence of new and potentially painful material contributed to the women's sense of apprehension. This was dramatically captured in one woman's metaphor: "Being in my body always feels like walking through a minefield … you know that there's danger out there, you just don't know where … you're waiting for the inevitable." The women also reported their struggle to cope with the fact that particular aspects of the dance therapy process (e.g. music, certain movements, structured activities) could trigger physical and emotional responses associated with past trauma. Certain kinds of music triggered in one woman a deluge of emotion and frightening mental images related to the ritual abuse she had experienced as a child. An exercise that involved holding still reminded another woman of being bound and confined as a small child, and these memories resulted in considerable emotional and physical distress during the session. Although these women struggled to keep from being overwhelmed by body memories and emotional triggers, they were also aware that this material was necessary "grist for the therapy mill," the identification and working through of which was critical to their own growth and healing. As such, these women considered it essential to develop a sense of safety in the group. They reported that the therapist and other group members helped create a safe environment in which they were able to challenge themselves to explore difficult and painful issues.
Despite these struggles, the women said they continued in dance therapy because they saw their hard work actually helping them to grow and heal.

Theme 5: Sense of Intimate Connection
The women in this study reflected on their experience of a unique kind of emotional connection with others while engaging in dance therapy. They remarked on how this intimacy was created without words, simply by moving together and at times, physically connecting with each other. The women talked about how the sense of intimacy they experienced with other participants during dance therapy was uncontrived. It seemed to emerge spontaneously through the wonder of simple gestures, playful moments, and dances that conveyed trust and caring. The women also spoke about factors like music and synchronized movement that contributed to a feeling of unity in the group. The participants believed that this connection and intimacy added greatly to their growth and healing through dance therapy, because they felt supported by others and accepted both physically and emotionally within the group.

The participants in this study remarked that observing another person being vulnerable while dancing was also a meaningful aspect of their dance therapy experience. They called this observation "witnessing" and said it was important for them in several ways. Seeing others taking risks and being vulnerable made them more willing to risk and to open up and share more of themselves and their struggles. The women also felt "honored" to receive the gift of another's dance and said this contributed greatly to their own sense of self-worth. The women also discovered that during group sessions, they gained insights about themselves and were engaged in their own work, even when bearing witness to the struggles of other members or when others were working individually with the therapist. As one participant said, "My experience was that things always came up for me. It never stayed feeling like it was the other person's time; it was always my time as well."

Theme 6: Sense of Freedom
The word freedom appeared repeatedly in all of the women's stories in many different contexts. The participants reflected on how they appreciated the freedom of choice that characterized dance therapy. They talked about having their choice of the activities that were presented and about feeling free to adjust their participation according to their own needs, agendas, and comfort levels. One woman explained, "It was clear to me that I could choose not to do any exercise, which was very important, or I could choose to do it in my own way." For one woman, this freedom of choice and control over the therapeutic process was especially significant and meaningful in light of her past abuse experiences:" For most people that have been sexually abused, that's one thing that was taken away from them, their ability to move, emotionally, physically, mentally, everything. So you've got this freedom that is so important." This woman described the sense of personal freedom as entitlement—reclaiming her right to be in charge of her body and her experience. All of the women told stories of emotional release, which they experienced to some degree in more traditional forms of therapy. What the women believed was unique to dance therapy, however, was the opportunity to discharge some of the physical energy that accompanied these powerful emotions. As one woman put it, "When stuff comes up in dance therapy you've got some way to expend the energy that's involved … to deal with it in terms of your body, and to get the energy out of your body, not just out of your mouth."
- Mills, Letty J.; Daniluk, Judith C.; Her Body Speaks: The Experience of Dance Therapy for Women Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse;  Journal of Counseling & Development, Winter2002, Vol. 80 Issue 1
The article above contains foundational information. Articles below contain optional updates.

=================================
Personal Reflection Exercise #11
The preceding section contained information about Gestalt techniques in dance therapy.  Write three case study examples regarding how you might use the content of this section in your practice.

Online Continuing Education QUESTION 25
What were six themes regarding dance therapy discussed by sexual abuse survivors? Record the letter of the correct answer the CEU Answer Booklet.

 
Others who bought this Gestalt Course
also bought…

Scroll DownScroll UpCourse Listing Bottom Cap

CEU Answer Booklet for this course | Gestalt
Forward to Section 26
Back to Section 24
Table of Contents
Top

The article above contains foundational information. Articles below contain optional updates.
Introduction to special section on advanced methodology: Counseling the dog to wag its methodological tail. - November 20, 2017
In this article, we introduce a special section focused on the application of advanced methodologies to specific research questions in counseling psychology. The articles include applications of natural language processing, dynamic systems, mediation analyses in single studies and meta-analysis, and synthesis of qualitative research. We provide a brief overview of each article. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
Topics in the Journal of Counseling Psychology, 1963–2015. - November 20, 2017
Historical trends in a scientific field should be apparent in the changing content of journal articles over time. Using a topic modeling approach, a statistical method for quantifying the thematic content of text, 70 topics were extracted from the abstracts of 3,603 articles published in the Journal of Counseling Psychology from 1963 to 2015. After examining interpretability of 70 topics derived from the model, 64 meaningful topics and their trends were named. In addition, the authors also classified some of the related topics into 4 categories—counseling process and outcome, multiculturalism, research methodology, and vocational psychology. Counseling process and outcome related topics have decreased recently, while topics relating to multiculturalism and diversity have shown increasing trends. The authors also discussed trends that were observed and tried to account for the changing frequencies of some important research topics within these categories. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
A multivariate dynamic systems model for psychotherapy with more than one client. - November 20, 2017
The dynamics of the give and take between therapist and client(s) is frequently of interest to therapy process researchers. Characterizing the ways that therapists respond to clients and clients respond to therapists can be challenging in therapeutic encounters involving a single therapist and a single client. The complexity of this challenge increases as the number of people involved in a therapeutic encounter increases not only because there are more people responding to one another but also because the patterns of responding can become more complex. This manuscript demonstrates how dyadic cross-lagged panel models can be extended to psychotherapeutic encounters involving 3 people and used to test processes that exist between dyadic subsets of the larger group as well as the group as one cohesive unit. Three hundred seventy-nine talk turns of fundamental frequency from a couple therapy session were modeled using 3 dyadic cross-lagged panel models, and each individual’s respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA) was treated as a moderator. Although the regression coefficients for each dyadic subset (e.g., therapist–husband) were nonsignificant, an eigenvalue/eigenvector decomposition of the regression coefficients from the 3 dyadic cross-lagged panel models suggests that interdependence exists at the level of the whole group (i.e., therapist–husband–wife) rather than between pairs of individuals within the group (e.g., husband–wife). Further, an interaction involving husband’s RSA suggested that interdependence involving the husband ceased when the husband displayed greater regulatory effort. This combination of statistical methods allows for clearly distinguishing between dyadic therapeutic processes and group-level therapeutic processes. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
Metamethod study of qualitative psychotherapy research on clients’ experiences: Review and recommendations. - November 20, 2017
A metamethod study is a qualitative meta-analysis focused upon the methods and procedures used in a given research domain. These studies are rare in psychological research. They permit both the documentation of the informal standards within a field of research and recommendations for future work in that area. This paper presents a metamethod analysis of a substantial body of qualitative research that focused on clients’ experiences in psychotherapy (109 studies). This review examined the ways that methodological integrity has been established across qualitative research methods. It identified the numbers of participants recruited and the form of data collection used (e.g., semistructured interviews, diaries). As well, it examined the types of checks employed to increase methodological integrity, such as participant counts, saturation, reflexivity techniques, participant feedback, or consensus and auditing processes. Central findings indicated that the researchers quite flexibly integrated procedures associated with one method into studies using other methods in order to strengthen their rigor. It appeared normative to adjust procedures to advance methodological integrity. These findings encourage manuscript reviewers to assess the function of procedures within a study rather than to require researchers to adhere to the set of procedures associated with a method. In addition, when epistemological approaches were mentioned they were overwhelmingly constructivist in nature, despite the increasing use of procedures traditionally associated with objectivist perspectives. It is recommended that future researchers do more to explicitly describe the functions of their procedures so that they are coherently situated within the epistemological approaches in use. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
Unique effects and moderators of effects of sources on self-efficacy: A model-based meta-analysis. - November 20, 2017
Self-efficacy beliefs are strong predictors of academic pursuits, performance, and persistence, and in theory are developed and maintained by 4 classes of experiences Bandura (1986) referred to as sources: performance accomplishments (PA), vicarious learning (VL), social persuasion (SP), and affective arousal (AA). The effects of sources on self-efficacy vary by performance domain and individual difference factors. In this meta-analysis (k = 61 studies of academic self-efficacy; N = 8,965), we employed B. J. Becker’s (2009) model-based approach to examine cumulative effects of the sources as a set and unique effects of each source, controlling for the others. Following Becker’s recommendations, we used available data to create a correlation matrix for the 4 sources and self-efficacy, then used these meta-analytically derived correlations to test our path model. We further examined moderation of these associations by subject area (STEM vs. non-STEM), grade, sex, and ethnicity. PA showed by far the strongest unique association with self-efficacy beliefs. Subject area was a significant moderator, with sources collectively predicting self-efficacy more strongly in non-STEM (k = 14) compared with STEM (k = 47) subjects (R2 = .37 and .22, respectively). Within studies of STEM subjects, grade level was a significant moderator of the coefficients in our path model, as were 2 continuous study characteristics (percent non-White and percent female). Practical implications of the findings and future research directions are discussed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)

CEU Continuing Education for
Social Worker CEUs, Counselor CEUs,Psychologist CEUs, MFT CEUs


OnlineCEUcredit.com Login


Forget your Password Reset it!