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Movement Therapy

Movement therapy

Definition

Movement therapy refers to a broad range of Eastern and Western movement approaches used to promote physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being. Some forms of movement therapy that combine deep-tissue manipulation and postural correction with movement education are also known as bodywork therapies.

Origins

Movement is fundamental to human life. In fact movement is life. Contemporary physics tells us that the universe and everything in it is in constant motion. We can move our body and at the most basic level our body is movement. According to the somatic educator Thomas Hanna, "The living body is a moving bodyindeed, it is a constantly moving body." The poet and philosopher Alan Watts eloquently states a similar view, "A living body is not a fixed thing but a flowing event, like a flame or a whirlpool." Centuries earlier, the great Western philosopher Socrates understood what modern physics has proven, "The universe is motion and nothing else."

Since the beginning of time, indigenous societies around the world have used movement and dance for individual and community healing. Movement and song were used for personal healing, to create community, to worship, to ensure successful crops, and to promote fertility. Movement is still an essential part of many healing traditions and practices throughout the world.

Western movement therapies generally developed out of the realm of dance. Many of these movement approaches were created by former dancers or choreographers who were searching for a way to prevent injury, attempting to recover from an injury, or who were curious about the effects of new ways of moving. Some movement therapies arose out of the fields of physical therapy, psychology, and bodywork. Other movement therapies were developed as way to treat an incurable disease or condition.

Eastern movement therapies, such as yoga, qigong , and t'ai chi began as a spiritual or self-defense practices and evolved into healing therapies. In China, for example, Taoist monks learned to use specific breathing and movement patterns in order to promote mental clarity, physical strength, and support their practice of meditation . These practices, later known as qigong and t'ai chi, eventually became recognized as ways to increase health and prolong life.

Benefits

The physical benefits of movement therapy include greater ease and range of movement, increased balance, strength and flexibility, improved muscle tone and coordination, joint resiliency, cardiovascular conditioning, enhanced athletic performance, stimulation of circulation, prevention of injuries, greater longevity, pain relief, and relief of rheumatic, neurological, spinal, stress , and respiratory disorders. Movement therapy can also be used as a meditation practice to quiet the mind, foster self-knowledge, and increase awareness. In addition, movement therapy is beneficial in alleviating emotional distress that is expressed through the body. These conditions include eating disorders, excessive clinging, and anxiety attacks. Since movements are related to thoughts and feelings, movement therapy can also bring about changes in attitude and emotions. People report an increase in self-esteem and self-image. Communication skills can be enhanced and tolerance of others increased. The physical openness facilitated by movement therapy leads to greater emotional openness and creativity.

Movement therapy is being studied more intensively as a useful adjunct to rehabilitation programs for victims of stroke or spinal cord injuries. Actor Christopher Reeves, who was paralyzed in a 1995 accident just below the two top vertebrae in his neck, has recovered feeling throughout most of his body and can even take small steps in a swimming pool. Reeves credits his improvement, which many doctors considered impossible, to exercising five hours every day. Some neuroscientists are studying Reeves and other patients with spinal cord injuries to test the hypothesis that movement itself can cause damaged nerves to regenerate.

Another important benefit of movement therapy that is increasingly recognized by mainstream as well as alternative practitioners is social support. Many people, particularly those suffering from depression related to physical illness or other forms of stress, find that taking a yoga class or other group form of movement therapy relieves feelings of loneliness and isolation. People who have taken therapeutic riding have reported that the positive relationship they develop with their horse helps them relate better to other animals and to people.

Description

There are countless approaches to movement therapy. Some approaches emphasize awareness and attention to inner sensations. Other approaches use movement as a form of psychotherapy , expressing and working through deep emotional issues. Some approaches emphasize alignment with gravity and specific movement sequences, while other approaches encourage spontaneous movement. Some approaches are primarily concerned with increasing the ease and efficiency of bodily movement. Other approaches address the reality of the body "as movement" instead of the body as only something that runs or walks through space.

The term movement therapy is often associated with dance therapy . Some dance therapists work privately with people who are interested in personal growth. Others work in mental health settings with autistic, brain injured and learning disabled children, the elderly, and disabled adults.

Laban movement analysis (LMA), formerly known as Effort-Shape is a comprehensive system for discriminating, describing, analyzing, and categorizing movements. LMA can be applied to dance, athletic coaching, fitness, acting, psychotherapy, and a variety of other professions. Certified movement analysts can "observe recurring patterns, note movement preferences, assess physical blocks and dysfunctional movement patterns, and the suggest new movement patterns." As a student of Rudolf Laban, Irmgard Bartenieff developed his form of movement analysis into a system of body training or reeducation called Bartenieff fundamentals (BF). The basic premise of this work is that once the student experiences a physical foundation, emotional, and intellectual expression become richer. BF uses specific exercises that are practiced on the floor, sitting, or standing to engage the deeper muscles of the body and enable a greater range of movement.

Authentic movement (AM) is based upon Mary Starks Whitehouse's understanding of dance, movement, and depth psychology. There is no movement instruction in AM, simply a mover and a witness. The mover waits and listens for an impulse to move and then follows or "moves with" the spontaneous movements that arise. These movements may or may not be visible to the witness. The movements may be in response to an emotion, a dream, a thought, pain, joy, or whatever is being experienced in the moment. The witness serves as a compassionate, non judgmental mirror and brings a "special quality of attention or presence." At the end of the session the mover and witness speak about their experiences together. AM is a powerful approach for self development and awareness and provides access to preverbal memories, creative ideas, and unconscious movement patterns that limit growth.

Gabrielle Roth (5 Rhythms movement) and Anna Halprin have both developed dynamic movement practices that emphasize personal growth, awareness, expression, and community. Although fundamentally different forms, each of these movement/dance approaches recognize and encourage our inherent desire for movement.

Several forms of movement therapy grew out of specific bodywork modalities. Rolfing movement integration (RMI) and Rolfing rhythms are movement forms which reinforce and help to integrate the structural body changes brought about by the hands-on work of Rolfing (structural integration). RMI uses a combination of touch and verbal directions to help develop greater awareness of one's vertical alignment and habitual movement patterns. RMI teacher Mary Bond says, "The premise of Rolfing Movement Integration is that you can restore your structure to balance by changing the movement habits that perpetuate imbalance." Rolfing rhythms is a series of lively exercises designed to encourage awareness of the Rolfing principles of ease, length, balance, and harmony with gravity.

The movement education component of Aston-Patterning bodywork is called neurokinetics. This movement therapy teaches ways of moving with greater ease throughout every day activities. These movement patterns can also be used to release tension in the body. Aston fitness is an exercise program which includes warm-up techniques, exercises to increase muscle tone and stability, stretching, and cardiovascular fitness.

Rosen method movement (an adjunct to Rosen method bodywork) consists of simple fun movement exercises done to music in a group setting. Through gentle swinging, bouncing, and stretching every joint in the body experiences a full range of movement. The movements help to increase balance and rhythm and create more space for effortless breathing.

The movement form of Trager psychophysical Integration bodywork, Mentastics, consists of fun, easy swinging, shaking, and stretching movements. These movements, developed by Dr. Milton Trager, create an experience of lightness and freedom in the body, allowing for greater ease in movement. Trager also worked successfully with polio patients.

Awareness through movement, the movement therapy form of the Feldenkrais method, consists of specific structured movement experiences taught as a group lesson. These lessons reeducate the brain without tiring the muscles. Most lessons are done lying down on the floor or sitting. Moshe Feldenkrais designed the lessons to "improve ability turn the impossible into the possible, the difficult into the easy, and the easy into the pleasant."

Ideokinesis is another movement approach emphasizing neuromuscular reeducation. Lulu Sweigart based her work on the pioneering approach of her teacher Mabel Elsworth Todd. Ideokinesis uses imagery to train the nervous system to stimulate the right muscles for the intended movement. If one continues to give the nervous system a clear mental picture of the movement intended, it will automatically select the best way to perform the movement. For example, to enhance balance in standing, Sweigart taught people to visualize "lines of movement" traveling through their bodies. Sweigart did not train teachers in ideokinesis but some individuals use ideokinetic imagery in the process of teaching movement.

The Mensendieck system of functional movement techniques is both corrective and preventative. Bess Mensendieck, a medical doctor, developed a series of exercises to reshape, rebuild and revitalize the body. A student of this approach learns to use the conscious will to relax muscles and releases tension. There are more than 200 exercises that emphasize correct and graceful body movement through everyday activities. Unlike other movement therapy approaches this work is done undressed or in a bikini bottom, in front of mirrors. This allows the student to observe and feel where a movement originates. Success has been reported with many conditions including Parkinson's disease , muscle and joint injuries, and repetitive strain injuries.

The Alexander technique is another functional approach to movement therapy. In this approach a teacher gently uses hands and verbal directions to subtly guide the student through movements such as sitting, standing up, bending and walking. The Alexander technique emphasizes balance in the neck-head relationship. A teacher lightly steers the students head into the proper balance on the tip of the spine while the student is moving in ordinary ways. The student learns to respond to movement demands with the whole body, in a light integrated way. This approach to movement is particularly popular with actors and other performers.

Pilates or physical mind method is also popular with actors, dancers, athletes, and a broad range of other people. Pilates consists of over 500 exercises done on the floor or primarily with customized exercise equipment. The exercises combine sensory awareness and physical training. Students learn to move from a stable, central core. The exercises promote strength, flexibility, and balance. Pilates training is increasingly available in sports medicine clinics, fitness centers, dance schools, spas, and physical therapy offices.

Many approaches to movement therapy emphasize awareness of internal sensations. Charlotte Selver, a student of somatic pioneer Elsa Gindler, calls her style of teaching sensory awareness (SA). This approach has influenced the thinking of many innovators, including Fritz Perls, who developed gestalt therapy. Rather than suggesting a series of structured movements, visualizations, or body positions, in SA the teacher outlines experiments in which one can become aware of the sensations involved in any movement. A teacher might ask the student to feel the movement of her breathing while running, sitting, picking up a book, etc. This close attunement to inner sensory experience encourages an experience of body-mind unity in which breathing becomes less restricted and posture, coordination, flexibility, and balance are improved. There may also be the experience of increased energy and aliveness.

Gerda Alexander Eutony (GAE) is another movement therapy approach that is based upon internal awareness. Through GAE one becomes a master of self-sensing and knowing which includes becoming sensitive to the external environment, as well. For example, while lying on the floor sensing the breath, skin or form of the body, one also senses the connection with the ground. GAE is taught in group classes or private lessons which also include hands-on therapy. In 1987, after two years of observation in clinics throughout the world, GAE became the first mind-body discipline accepted by the World Health Organization (WHO) as an alternative health-care technique.

Kinetic awareness developed by dancer-choreographer Elaine Summers, emphasizes emotional and physical inquiry. Privately or in a group, a teacher sets up situations for the student to explore the possible causes of pain and movement restrictions within the body. Rubber balls of various sizes are used as props to focus attention inward, support the body in a stretched position and massage a specific area of the body. The work helps one to deal with chronic pain, move easily again after injuries and increase energy, flexibility, coordination, and comfort.

Body-mind centering (BMC) was developed by Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen and is a comprehensive educational and therapeutic approach to movement. BMC practitioners use movement, touch, guided imagery , developmental repatterning, dialogue, music, large balls, and other props in an individual session to meet the needs of each person. BMC encourages people to develop a sensate awareness and experience of the ligaments, nerves, muscles, skin, fluids, organs, glands, fat, and fascia that make up one's body. It has been effective in preventing and rehabilitating from chronic injuries and in improving neuromuscular response in children with cerebral palsy and other neurological disorders.

Continuum movement has also been shown to be effective in treating neurological disorders including spinal chord injury. Developed by Emilie Conrad and Susan Harper, continuum movement is an inquiry into the creative flux of our body and all of life. Sound, breath, subtle and dynamic movements are explored that stimulate the brain and increase resonance with the fluid world of movement. The emphasis is upon unpredictable, spontaneous or spiral movements rather than a linear movement pattern. According to Conrad, "Awareness changes how we physically move. As we become more fluid and resilient so do the mental, emotional, and spiritual movements of our lives."

More recently, a form of movement therapy that involves horses has gained fresh attention. It is variously known as therapeutic riding or equine-assisted therapy. Therapeutic riding originated with a Swedish horsewoman who lost her ability to walk when she contracted polio in 1946, and was determined to recover by returning to horseback riding. She eventually won a silver medal in the 1952 Olympics. Therapeutic riding programs allow persons with physical, psychological, or learning disabilities to gain self-esteem and social growth as well as improved balance, body awareness, and physical strength.

Such Eastern movement therapies as yoga, t'ai chi, and qigong are also effective in healing and preventing a wide range of physical disorders, encouraging emotional stability, and enhancing spiritual awareness. There are a number of different approaches to yoga. Some emphasize the development of physical strength, flexibility, and alignment. Other forms of yoga emphasize inner awareness, opening, and meditation.

Precautions

Persons who are seriously ill, acutely feverish, or suffering from a contagious infection should wait until they have recovered before beginning a course of movement therapy. As a rule, types of movement therapy that involve intensive manipulation or stretching of the deeper layers of body tissue are not suitable for persons who have undergone recent surgery or have recently suffered severe injury. With regard to emotional or psychiatric disturbances, persons who are recovering from abuse or receiving treatment for any post-traumatic syndrome or dissociative disorder should consult their therapist before undertaking a course of movement therapy. While movement therapy is often recommended as part of a treatment plan for these disorders, it can also trigger flashbacks or dissociative episodes if the movement therapist is unaware of the client's history. It is always best to consult with a knowledgeable physician, physical therapist, or mental health therapist before a course of movement therapy.

Research & general acceptance

Although research has documented the effects of dance therapy, qigong, t'ai chi, yoga, Alexander technique, awareness through movement (Feldenkrais), and Rolfing, other forms of movement therapy have not been as thoroughly researched.

Training & certification

Training and certification vary widely with each form of movement therapy. Many approaches require several years of extensive training and experience with the particular movement form. Movement therapies that are also considered forms of bodywork have an umbrella national certification board, listed below under Resources. Therapeutic riding programs are accredited by the North American Riding for the Handicapped Association (NARHA), which also credentials riding instructors.

Resources

BOOKS

Halprin, Anna. Dance as a Healing Art: Returning to Health Through Movement and Imagery. Life Rhythm, 1999.

Hartley, Linda. Wisdom of the Body Moving: An Introduction to Body-Mind Centering. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Press, 1995.

Knaster, Mirka. Discovering the Body's Wisdom. New York, NY: Bantam Books, 1996.

Pelletier, Kenneth R., MD. The Best Alternative Medicine, Part I: Sound Mind, Sound Body. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2002.

PERIODICALS

Bagnall, A. M., P. Whiting, R. Richardson, and A. J. Sowden. "Interventions for the Treatment and Management of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Myalgic Encephalomyelitis. (Effectiveness Bulletin)." Quality and Safety in Health Care 11 (September 2002): 284-288.

Batty, G. David, and I-Min Lee. "Physical Activity for Preventing Strokes: Better Designed Studies Suggest That It is Effective." British Medical Journal 325 (August 17, 2002): 350-351.

Cottingham, John T., and Jeffrey Maitland. "Integrating Manual and Movement Therapy With Philosophical Counseling for Treatment of a Patient With Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis: A Case Study That Explores the Principles of Holistic Intervention." Alternative Therapies Journal (March 2000): 120-128.

Crandall, Melissa. "Healing Horses." ASPCA Animal Watch 22 (Winter 2002): 21-25.

Shute, Nancy. "A Super Feeling." U. S. News & World Report, September 23, 2002, 58.

Stanten, Michele, and Selene Yeager. "Kinder, Gentler Workouts: These No-Sweat Exercises Offer More Than Just Relaxation." (Fitness News). Prevention 54 (July 2002): 74-75.

Vidrine, M., P. Owen-Smith, and P. Faulkner. "Equine-Facilitated Group Psychotherapy: Applications for Therapeutic Vaulting." Issues in Mental Health Nursing 23 (September 2002): 587-603.

ORGANIZATIONS

American Yoga Association. <www.americanyogaassociation.org.>.

Canadian Taijiquan Federation. P.O. Box 421, Milton, Ontario L9T 4Z1. <www.canadiantaijiquanfederation.ca>.

Feldenkrais Guild of North America. 3611 S.W. Hood Avenue, Suite 100, Portland, OR 97201. (800) 775-2118 or (503) 221-6612. Fax: (503) 221-6616. <www.feldenkrais.com>.

The Guild for Structural Integration. 209 Canyon Blvd. P.O. Box 1868. Boulder, CO 80306-1868. (303) 449-5903. (800) 530-8875. <www.rolfguild.org.>.

International Association of Yoga Therapists (IAYT). 4150 Tivoli Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90066.

North American Riding for the Handicapped Association (NARHA). P. O. Box 33150, Denver, CO 80233. (303) 452-1212 or (800) 369-RIDE. <www.narha.org>.

Patience T'ai Chi Association. 2620 East 18th Street, Brooklyn, NY 11235. (718) 332-3477. <www.patiencetaichi.com>.

Qigong Human Life Research Foundation. PO Box 5327. Cleveland, OH 44101. (216) 475-4712.

The Society of Teachers of the Alexander Technique. <www.stat.org.uk>.

The Trager Institute. 21 Locust Avenue, Mill Valley, CA 94941-2806 (415) 388-2688. Fax: (415) 388-2710. <www.trager.com.>.

OTHER

National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork. 8201 Greensboro Drive, Suite 300. McLean, VA 22102. (703) 610-9015.

NIH National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) Clearinghouse. P. O. Box 8218, Silver Spring, MD 20907-8218. TTY/TDY: (888) 644-6226. Fax: (301) 495-4957. Web site: http://www.nccam.nih.gov.

Linda Chrisman

Rebecca J. Frey, PhD

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Movement Therapy

Movement Therapy

Definition

Movement therapy refers to a broad range of Eastern and Western movement approaches used to promote physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being.

Purpose

The physical benefits of movement therapy include greater ease and range of movement, increased balance, strength and flexibility, improved muscle tone and coordination, joint resiliency, cardiovascular conditioning, enhanced athletic performance, stimulation of circulation, prevention of injuries, greater longevity, pain relief, and relief of rheumatic, neurological, spinal, stress, and respiratory disorders. Movement therapy can also be used as a meditation practice to quiet the mind, foster self-knowledge, and increase awareness. In addition, movement therapy is beneficial in alleviating emotional distress that is expressed through the body. These conditions include eating disorders, excessive clinging, and anxiety attacks. Since movements are related to thoughts and feelings, movement therapy can also bring about changes in attitude and emotions. People report an increase in self-esteem and self-image. Communication skills can be enhanced and tolerance of others increased. The physical openness facilitated by movement therapy leads to greater emotional openness and creativity.

Description

Origins

Movement is fundamental to human life. In fact movement is life. Contemporary physics tells us that the universe and everything in it is in constant motion. We can move our body and at the most basic level our body is movement. According to the somatic educator Thomas Hanna, "The living body is a moving bodyindeed, it is a constantly moving body." The poet and philosopher Alan Watts eloquently states a similar view, "A living body is not a fixed thing but a flowing event, like a flame or a whirlpool." Centuries earlier, the great Western philosopher Socrates understood what modern physics has proven, "The universe is motion and nothing else."

Since the beginning of time, indigenous societies around the world have used movement and dance for individual and community healing. Movement and song were used for personal healing, to create community, to ensure successful crops, and to promote fertility. Movement is still an essential part of many healing traditions and practices throughout the world.

Western movement therapies generally developed out of the realm of dance. Many of these movement approaches were created by former dancers or choreographers who were searching for a way to prevent injury, attempting to recover from an injury, or who were curious about the effects of new ways of moving. Some movement therapies arose out of the fields of physical therapy, psychology, and bodywork. Other movement therapies were developed as way to treat an incurable disease or condition.

Eastern movement therapies, such as yoga, qigong, and t'ai chi began as a spiritual or self-defense practices and evolved into healing therapies. In China, for example, Taoist monks learned to use specific breathing and movement patterns in order to promote mental clarity, physical strength, and support their practice of meditation. These practices, later known as qigong and t'ai chi eventually became recognized as ways to increase health and prolong life.

There are countless approaches to movement therapy. Some approaches emphasize awareness and attention to inner sensations. Other approaches use movement as a form of psychotherapy, expressing and working through deep emotional issues. Some approaches emphasize alignment with gravity and specific movement sequences, while other approaches encourage spontaneous movement. Some approaches are primarily concerned with increasing the ease and efficiency of bodily movement. Other approaches address the reality of the body "as movement" instead of the body as only something that runs or walks through space.

The term movement therapy is often associated with dance therapy. Some dance therapists work privately with people who are interested in personal growth. Others work in mental health settings with autistic, brain injured and learning disabled children, the elderly, and disabled adults.

Laban movement analysis (LMA), formerly known as Effort-Shape is a comprehensive system for discriminating, describing, analyzing, and categorizing movements. LMA can be applied to dance, athletic coaching, fitness, acting, psychotherapy, and a variety of other professions. Certified movement analysts can "observe recurring patterns, note movement preferences, asses physical blocks and dysfunctional movement patterns, and the suggest new movement patterns." As a student of Rudolf Laban, Irmgard Bartenieff developed his form of movement analysis into a system of body training or reeducation called Bartenieff fundamentals (BF). The basic premise of this work is that once the student experiences a physical foundation, emotional, and intellectual expression become richer. BF uses specific exercises that are practiced on the floor, sitting, or standing to engage the deeper muscles of the body and enable a greater range of movement.

Authentic movement (AM) is based upon Mary Starks Whitehouse's understanding of dance, movement, and depth psychology. There is no movement instruction in AM, simply a mover and a witness. The mover waits and listens for an impulse to move and then follows or "moves with" the spontaneous movements that arise. These movements may or may not be visible to the witness. The movements may be in response to an emotion, a dream, a thought, pain, joy, or whatever is being experienced in the moment. The witness serves as a compassionate, non judgmental mirror and brings a "special quality of attention or presence." At the end of the session the mover and witness speak about their experiences together. AM is a powerful approach for self development and awareness and provides access to preverbal memories, creative ideas, and unconscious movement patterns that limit growth.

Gabrielle Roth (5 Rhythms movement) and Anna Halprin have both developed dynamic movement practices that emphasize personal growth, awareness, expression, and community. Although fundamentally different forms, each of these movement/dance approaches recognize and encourage our inherent desire for movement.

Several forms of movement therapy grew out of specific bodywork modalities. Rolfing movement integration (RMI) and Rolfing rhythms are movement forms which reinforce and help to integrate the structural body changes brought about by the hands-on work of Rolfing (structural integration). RMI uses a combination of touch and verbal directions to help develop greater awareness of one's vertical alignment and habitual movement patterns. RMI teacher Mary Bond says, "The premise of Rolfing Movement Integration is that you can restore your structure to balance by changing the movement habits that perpetuate imbalance." Rolfing rhythms is a series of lively exercises designed to encourage awareness of the Rolfing principles of ease, length, balance, and harmony with gravity.

The movement education component of Aston-Patterning bodywork is called neurokinetics. This movement therapy teaches ways of moving with greater ease throughout every day activities. These movement patterns can also be used to release tension in the body. Aston fitness is an exercise program which includes warm-up techniques, exercises to increase muscle tone and stability, stretching, and cardiovascular fitness.

Rosen method movement (an adjunct to Rosen method bodywork) consists of simple fun movement exercises done to music in a group setting. Through gentle swinging, bouncing, and stretching every joint in the body experiences a full range of movement. The movements help to increase balance and rhythm and create more space for effortless breathing.

The movement form of Trager psychophysical integration bodywork, Mentastics, consists of fun, easy swinging, shaking, and stretching movements. These movements, developed by Dr. Milton Trager, create an experience of lightness and freedom in the body, allowing for greater ease in movement. Trager also worked successfully with polio patients.

Awareness through movement, the movement therapy form of the Feldenkrais method, consists of specific structured movement experiences taught as a group lesson. These lessons reeducate the brain without tiring the muscles. Most lessons are done lying down on the floor or sitting. Moshe Feldenkrais designed the lessons to "improve ability turn the impossible into the possible, the difficult into the easy, and the easy into the pleasant."

Ideokinesis is another movement approach emphasizing neuromuscular reeducation. Lulu Sweigart based her work on the pioneering approach of her teacher Mabel Elsworth Todd. Ideokinesis uses imagery to train the nervous system to stimulate the right muscles for the intended movement. If one continues to give the nervous system a clear mental picture of the movement intended, it will automatically select the best way to perform the movement. For example, to enhance balance in standing, Sweigart taught people to visualize "lines of movement" traveling through their bodies. Sweigart did not train teachers in ideokinesis but some individuals use ideokinetic imagery in the process of teaching movement.

The Mensendieck system of functional movement techniques is both corrective and preventative. Bess Mensendieck, a medical doctor, developed a series of exercises to reshape, rebuild and revitalize the body. A student of this approach learns to use the conscious will to relax muscles and releases tension. There are more than 200 exercises that emphasize correct and graceful body movement through everyday activities. Unlike other movement therapy approaches this work is done undressed or in a bikini bottom, in front of mirrors. This allows the student to observe and feel where a movement originates. Success has been reported with many conditions including Parkinson's disease, muscle and joint injuries, and repetitive strain injuries.

The Alexander technique is another functional approach to movement therapy. In this approach a teacher gently uses hands and verbal directions to subtly guide the student through movements such as sitting, standing up, bending and walking. The Alexander technique emphasizes balance in the neck-head relationship. A teacher lightly steers the students head into the proper balance on the tip of the spine while the student is moving in ordinary ways. The student learns to respond to movement demands with the whole body, in a light integrated way. This approach to movement is particularly popular with actors and other performers.

Pilates or physical mind method is also popular with actors, dancers, athletes, and a broad range of other people. Pilates consists of over 500 exercises done on the floor or primarily with customized exercise equipment. The exercises combine sensory awareness and physical training. Students learn to move from a stable, central core. The exercises promote strength, flexibility, and balance. Pilates training is increasingly available in sports medicine clinics, fitness centers, dance schools, spas, and physical therapy offices.

Many approaches to movement therapy emphasize awareness of internal sensations. Charlotte Selver, a student of somatic pioneer Elsa Gindler, calls her style of teaching sensory awareness (SA). This approach has influenced the thinking of many innovators, including Fritz Perls, who developed gestalt therapy. Rather than suggesting a series of structured movements, visualizations, or body positions, in SA the teacher outlines experiments in which one can become aware of the sensations involved in any movement. A teacher might ask the student to feel the movement of her breathing while running, sitting, picking up a book, etc. This close attunement to inner sensory experience encourages an experience of body-mind unity in which breathing becomes less restricted and posture, coordination, flexibility, and balance are improved. There may also be the experience of increased energy and aliveness.

Gerda Alexander Eutony (GAE) is another movement therapy approach that is based upon internal awareness. Through GAE one becomes a master of self-sensing and knowing which includes becoming sensitive to the external environment, as well. For example, while lying on the floor sensing the breath, skin or form of the body, one also senses the connection with the ground. GAE is taught in group classes or private lessons which also include hands-on therapy. In 1987, after two years of observation in clinics throughout the world, GAE became the first mind-body discipline accepted by the World Health Organization (WHO) as an alternative health-care technique.

Kinetic awareness developed by dancer-choreographer Elaine Summers, emphasizes emotional and physical inquiry. Privately or in a group, a teacher sets up situations for the student to explore the possible causes of pain and movement restrictions within the body. Rubber balls of various sizes are used as props to focus attention inward, support the body in a stretched position and massage a specific area of the body. The work helps one to deal with chronic pain, move easily again after injuries and increase energy, flexibility, coordination, and comfort.

Body-mind centering (BMC) was developed by Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen and is a comprehensive educational and therapeutic approach to movement. BMC practitioners use movement, touch, guided imagery, developmental repatterning, dialogue, music, large balls, and other props in an individual session to meet the needs of each person. BMC encourages people to develop a sensate awareness and experience of the ligaments, nerves, muscles, skin, fluids, organs, glands, fat, and fascia that make up one's body. It has been effective in preventing and rehabilitating from chronic injuries and in improving neuromuscular response in children with cerebral palsy and other neurological disorders.

Continuum movement has also been shown to be effective in treating neurological disorders including spinal chord injury. Developed by Emilie Conrad and Susan Harper, continuum movement is an inquiry into the creative flux of our body and all of life. Sound, breath, subtle and dynamic movements are explored that stimulate the brain and increase resonance with the fluid world of movement. The emphasis is upon unpredictable, spontaneous or spiral movements rather than a linear movement pattern. According to Conrad, "Awareness changes how we physically move. As we become more fluid and resilient so do the mental, emotional, and spiritual movements of our lives."

Eastern movement therapies such as yoga, t'ai chi, and qigong are also effective in healing and preventing a wide range of physical disorders, encouraging emotional stability, and enhancing spiritual awareness. There are a number of different approaches to yoga. Some emphasize the development of physical strength, flexibility, and alignment. Other forms of yoga emphasize inner awareness, opening, and meditation.

Precautions

People with acute injuries and chronic physical and mental conditions need to be careful when choosing a form of movement therapy. It is best to consult with a knowledgeable physician, physical therapist, or mental health therapist.

A special form of movement therapy known as constraint-induced movement therapy, or CIMT, is being used as of the early 2000s to rehabilitate the upper limbs of patients who have suffered a stroke, traumatic brain injury, or damage to the spinal cord. In CIMT, the arm that has been less affected by the injury is constrained by a sling for 90% of the patient's waking hours for a period of two weeks. The sling forces the patient to use the weaker arm more often; in addition, a physical therapist works with the patient to practice repetitive motions with the weaker arm. CIMT also appears to be useful in treating children with muscular weakness on one side of the body caused by cerebral palsy.

Research and general acceptance

Although research has documented the beneficial effects of dance therapy, qigong, t'ai chi, yoga, Alexander technique, awareness through movement (Feldenkrais), and Rolfing, other forms of movement therapy have not been as thoroughly researched.

CIMT has become widely accepted in rehabilitation medicine since its introduction in the mid-1990s, although some doctors still consider it experimental. Further research in CIMT is being carried out by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), one of the National Institutes of Health.

Resources

BOOKS

Halprin, Anna. Dance as a Healing Art: Returning to Health Through Movement and Imagery. Life Rhythm, 1999.

PERIODICALS

Bunch, W. "Dancing through the Pain. Physician Executive Launches New Business to Treat Patients with Chronic Pain." Physician Executive 30 (January-February 2004): 30-33.

Cottingham, John T., and Jeffrey Maitland. "Integrating Manual and Movement Therapy With Philosophical Counseling for Treatment of a Patient With Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis: A Case Study That Explores the Principles of Holistic Intervention." Alternative Therapies Journal March 2000: 120-128.

Mark, V. W., and E. Taub. "Constraint-Induced Movement Therapy for Chronic Stroke Hemiparesis and Other Disabilities." Restorative Neurology and Neuroscience 22 (March 2004): 317-336.

Page, S. J., S. Sisto, P. Levine, and R. E. McGrath. "Efficacy of Modified Constraint-Induced Movement Therapy in Chronic Stroke: A Single-Blinded Randomized Controlled Trial." Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation 85 (January 2004): 14-18.

Taub, E., S. L. Ramey, S. DeLuca, and K. Echols. "Efficacy of Constraint-Induced Movement Therapy for Children with Cerebral Palsy with Asymmetric Motor Impairment." Pediatrics 113 (February 2004): 305-312.

ORGANIZATIONS

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). NIH Neurological Institute, P. O. Box 5801, Bethesda, MD 20824. (800) 352-9424 or (301) 496-5751. http://www.ninds.nih.gov.

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Movement Therapy

Movement Therapy

Definition

Movement therapy refers to a broad range of Eastern and Western movement approaches used to promote physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being.

Origins

Movement is fundamental to human life. In fact movement is life. Contemporary physics tells us that the universe and everything in it is in constant motion. We can move our body and at the most basic level our body is movement. According to the somatic educator Thomas Hanna, "The living body is a moving body—indeed, it is a constantly moving body." The poet and philosopher Alan Watts eloquently states a similar view, "A living body is not a fixed thing but a flowing event, like a flame or a whirlpool." Centuries earlier, the great Western philosopher Socrates understood what modern physics has proven, "The universe is motion and nothing else."

Since the beginning of time, indigenous societies around the world have used movement and dance for individual and community healing. Movement and song were used for personal healing, to create community, to ensure successful crops, and to promote fertility. Movement is still an essential part of many healing traditions and practices throughout the world.

Western movement therapies generally developed out of the realm of dance. Many of these movement approaches were created by former dancers or choreographers who were searching for a way to prevent injury, attempting to recover from an injury, or who were curious about the effects of new ways of moving. Some movement therapies arose out of the fields of physical therapy, psychology, and bodywork. Other movement therapies were developed as way to treat an incurable disease or condition.

Eastern movement therapies, such as yoga, qigong, and t'ai chi began as a spiritual or self-defense practices and evolved into healing therapies. In China, for example, Taoist monks learned to use specific breathing and movement patterns in order to promote mental clarity, physical strength, and support their practice of meditation. These practices, later known as qigong and t'ai chi, eventually became recognized as ways to increase health and prolong life.

Benefits

The physical benefits of movement therapy include greater ease and range of movement, increased balance, strength and flexibility, improved muscle tone and coordination, joint resiliency, cardiovascular conditioning, enhanced athletic performance, stimulation of circulation, prevention of injuries, greater longevity, pain relief, and relief of rheumatic, neurological, spinal, stress, and respiratory disorders. Movement therapy can also be used as a meditation practice to quiet the mind, foster self-knowledge, and increase awareness. In addition, movement therapy is beneficial in alleviating emotional distress that is expressed through the body. These conditions include eating disorders, excessive clinging, and anxiety attacks. Since movements are related to thoughts and feelings, movement therapy can also bring about changes in attitude and emotions. People report an increase in self-esteem and self-image. Communication skills can be enhanced and tolerance of others increased. The physical openness facilitated by movement therapy leads to greater emotional openness and creativity.

Description

There are countless approaches to movement therapy. Some approaches emphasize awareness and attention to inner sensations. Other approaches use movement as a form of psychotherapy, expressing and working through deep emotional issues. Some approaches emphasize alignment with gravity and specific movement sequences, while other approaches encourage spontaneous movement. Some approaches are primarily concerned with increasing the ease and efficiency of bodily movement. Other approaches address the reality of the body "as movement" instead of the body as only something that runs or walks through space.

The term movement therapy is often associated with dance therapy. Some dance therapists work privately with people who are interested in personal growth. Others work in mental health settings with autistic, brain injured and learning disabled children, the elderly, and disabled adults.

Laban movement analysis (LMA), formerly known as Effort-Shape, is a comprehensive system for discriminating, describing, analyzing, and categorizing movements. LMA can be applied to dance, athletic coaching, fitness, acting, psychotherapy, and a variety of other professions. Certified movement analysts can "observe recurring patterns, note movement preferences, assess physical blocks and dysfunctional movement patterns, and suggest new movement patterns." As a student of Rudolf Laban, Irmgard Bartenieff developed his form of movement analysis into a system of body training or reeducation called Bartenieff fundamentals (BF). The basic premise of this work is that once the student experiences a physical foundation, emotional and intellectual expressions become richer. BF uses specific exercises that are practiced on the floor, sitting, or standing to engage the deeper muscles of the body and enable a greater range of movement.

Authentic movement (AM) is based upon Mary Starks Whitehouse's understanding of dance, movement, and depth psychology. There is no movement instruction in AM, simply a mover and a witness. The mover waits and listens for an impulse to move and then follows or "moves with" the spontaneous movements that arise. These movements may or may not be visible to the witness. The movements may be in response to an emotion, a dream, a thought, pain, joy, or whatever is being experienced in the moment. The witness serves as a compassionate, non judgmental mirror and brings a "special quality of attention or presence." At the end of the session the mover and witness speak about their experiences together. AM is a powerful approach for self development and awareness and provides access to preverbal memories, creative ideas, and unconscious movement patterns that limit growth.

Gabrielle Roth (5 Rhythms movement) and Anna Halprin have both developed dynamic movement practices that emphasize personal growth, awareness, expression, and community. Although fundamentally different forms, each of these movement/dance approaches recognize and encourage our inherent desire for movement.

Several forms of movement therapy grew out of specific bodywork modalities. Rolfing movement integration (RMI) and Rolfing rhythms are movement forms which reinforce and help to integrate the structural body changes brought about by the handson work of Rolfing (structural integration). RMI uses a combination of touch and verbal directions to help develop greater awareness of one's vertical alignment and habitual movement patterns. RMI teacher Mary Bond says, "The premise of Rolfing Movement Integration … is that you can restore your structure to balance by changing the movement habits that perpetuate imbalance." Rolfing rhythms are a series of lively exercises designed to encourage awareness of the Rolfing principles of ease, length, balance, and harmony with gravity.

The movement education component of Aston-Patterning bodywork is called neurokinetics. This movement therapy teaches ways of moving with greater ease throughout everyday activities. These movement patterns can also be used to release tension in the body. Aston fitness is an exercise program which includes warm-up techniques, exercises to increase muscle tone and stability, stretching, and cardiovascular fitness.

Rosen method movement (an adjunct to Rosen method bodywork) consists of simple fun movement exercises done to music in a group setting. Through gentle swinging, bouncing, and stretching, every joint in the body experiences a full range of movement. The movements help to increase balance and rhythm and create more space for effortless breathing.

The movement form of Trager psychophysical integration bodywork, Mentastics, consists of fun, easy swinging, shaking, and stretching movements. These movements, developed by Dr. Milton Trager, create an experience of lightness and freedom in the body, allowing for greater ease in movement. Trager also worked successfully with polio patients.

Awareness through movement, the movement therapy form of the Feldenkrais method, consists of specific structured movement experiences taught as a group lesson. These lessons reeducate the brain without tiring the muscles. Most lessons are done lying down on the floor or sitting. Moshe Feldenkrais designed the lessons to "improve ability … turn the impossible into the possible, the difficult into the easy, and the easy into the pleasant."

Ideokinesis is another movement approach emphasizing neuromuscular reeducation. Lulu Sweigart based her work on the pioneering approach of her teacher Mabel Elsworth Todd. Ideokinesis uses imagery to train the nervous system to stimulate the right muscles for the intended movement. If one continues to give the nervous system a clear mental picture of the movement intended, it will automatically select the best way to perform the movement. For example, to enhance balance in standing, Sweigart taught people to visualize "lines of movement" traveling through their bodies. Sweigart did not train teachers in ideokinesis but some individuals use ideokinetic imagery in the process of teaching movement.

The Mensendieck system of functional movement techniques is both corrective and preventative. Bess Mensendieck, a medical doctor, developed a series of exercises to reshape, rebuild, and revitalize the body. A student of this approach learns to use the conscious will to relax muscles and release tension. There are more than 200 exercises that emphasize correct and graceful body movement through everyday activities. Unlike other movement therapy approaches, this work is done undressed or in a bikini bottom, in front of mirrors. This allows the student to observe and feel where a movement originates. Success has been reported with many conditions including Parkinson's disease, muscle and joint injuries, and repetitive strain injuries.

The Alexander technique is another functional approach to movement therapy. In this approach a teacher gently uses hands and verbal directions to subtly guide the student through movements such as sitting, standing up, bending, and walking. The Alexander technique emphasizes balance in the neck-head relationship. A teacher lightly steers the students head into the proper balance on the tip of the spine while the student is moving in ordinary ways. The student learns to respond to movement demands with the whole body, in a light integrated way. This approach to movement is particularly popular with actors and other performers.

Pilates or physical mind method is also popular with actors, dancers, athletes, and a broad range of other people. Pilates consists of over 500 exercises done on the floor or primarily with customized exercise equipment. The exercises combine sensory awareness and physical training. Students learn to move from a stable, central core. The exercises promote strength, flexibility, and balance. Pilates training is increasingly available in sports medicine clinics, fitness centers, dance schools, spas, and physical therapy offices.

Many approaches to movement therapy emphasize awareness of internal sensations. Charlotte Selver, a student of somatic pioneer Elsa Gindler, calls her style of teaching sensory awareness (SA). This approach has influenced the thinking of many innovators, including Fritz Perls, who developed gestalt therapy. Rather than suggesting a series of structured movements, visualizations, or body positions, in SA the teacher outlines experiments in which one can become aware of the sensations involved in any movement. A teacher might ask the student to feel the movement of her breathing while running, sitting, picking up a book, etc. This close attunement to inner sensory experience encourages an experience of body-mind unity in which breathing becomes less restricted and posture, coordination, flexibility, and balance are improved. There may also be the experience of increased energy and aliveness.

Gerda Alexander Eutony (GAE) is another movement therapy approach that is based upon internal awareness. Through GAE one becomes a master of self-sensing and knowing which includes becoming sensitive to the external environment, as well. For example, while lying on the floor sensing the breath, skin or form of the body, one also senses the connection with the ground. GAE is taught in group classes or private lessons which also include hands-on therapy. In 1987, after two years of observation in clinics throughout the world, GAE became the first mind-body discipline accepted by the World Health Organization (WHO) as an alternative health-care technique.

Kinetic awareness developed by dancer-choreographer Elaine Summers, emphasizes emotional and physical inquiry. Privately or in a group, a teacher sets up situations for the student to explore the possible causes of pain and movement restrictions within the body. Rubber balls of various sizes are used as props to focus attention inward, support the body in a stretched position and massage a specific area of the body. The work helps one to deal with chronic pain, move easily again after injuries and increase energy, flexibility, coordination, and comfort.

Body-mind centering (BMC) was developed by Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen and is a comprehensive educational and therapeutic approach to movement. BMC practitioners use movement, touch, guided imagery, developmental repatterning, dialogue, music, large balls, and other props in an individual session to meet the needs of each person. BMC encourages people to develop a sensate awareness and experience of the ligaments, nerves, muscles, skin, fluids, organs, glands, fat, and fascia that make up one's body. It has been effective in preventing and rehabilitating from chronic injuries and in improving neuromuscular response in children with cerebral palsy and other neurological disorders.

Continuum movement has also been shown to be effective in treating neurological disorders including spinal chord injury. Developed by Emilie Conrad and Susan Harper, continuum movement is an inquiry into the creative flux of our body and all of life. Sound, breath, subtle and dynamic movements are explored that stimulate the brain and increase resonance with the fluid world of movement. The emphasis is upon unpredictable, spontaneous or spiral movements rather than a linear movement pattern. According to Conrad, "Awareness changes how we physically move. As we become more fluid and resilient so do the mental, emotional, and spiritual movements of our lives."

Eastern movement therapies such as yoga, t'ai chi, and qigong are also effective in healing and preventing a wide range of physical disorders, encouraging emotional stability, and enhancing spiritual awareness. There are a number of different approaches to yoga. Some emphasize the development of physical strength, flexibility, and alignment. Other forms of yoga emphasize inner awareness, opening, and meditation.

Precautions

People with acute injuries and chronic physical and mental conditions need to be careful when choosing a form of movement therapy. It is best to consult with a knowledgeable physician, physical therapist, or mental health therapist.

Research and general acceptance

Although research has documented the effects of dance therapy, qigong, t'ai chi, yoga, Alexander technique, awareness through movement (Feldenkrais), and Rolfing movement, other forms of movement therapy have not been as thoroughly researched.

Training and certification

Training and certification varies widely with each form of movement therapy. Many approaches require several years of extensive training and experience with the particular movement form.

Resources

BOOKS

Halprin, Anna. Dance as a Healing Art: Returning to Health Through Movement and Imagery. Life Rhythm, 1999.

Hartley, Linda. Wisdom of the Body Moving: An Introduction to Body-Mind Centering. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Press, 1995.

Knaster, Mirka. Discovering the Body's Wisdom. New York, NY: Bantam Books, 1996.

PERIODICALS

Cottingham, John T., and Jeffrey Maitland. "Integrating Manual and Movement Therapy With Philosophical Counseling for Treatment of a Patient With Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis: A Case Study That Explores the Principles of Holistic Intervention." Alternative Therapies Journal (March 2000): 120-128.

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Movement Therapy

Movement Therapy

Definition

Movement therapy consists of a variety of Eastern and Western movement techniques that are used to foster physical, psychological, emotional, and spiritual health.

Purpose

The purpose of movement therapy varies according to the nature of the specific technique, its origins, and its own mission. These techniques deal with physical functioning, psychological stability, personal and spiritual growth, and the joy of movement.

Originating from the dance profession, Western movement approaches were first developed in the 1940s by Marian Chace who went into hospital wards to treat veterans during WW II. Though dance and movement therapy began to be used as a healing technique, it did not become a distinct profession until the 1960s.

Movement therapy, though based on dance, does not concentrate on dance technique. It deals with moving the body, which can be anything from walking to jumping to rocking to sitting in a posture for several minutes.

Movement therapy is practiced in medical and mental health settings, schools, nursing homes , day care centers, prisons, and senior community centers. It is also used in forensic circumstances and in disease prevention and health education programs. The World Health Organization has recognized movement therapy as an alternative healthcare technique.

Functional therapies

Functional movement therapy often is a gentle method of preventing or recovering from injury, improving balance, or encouraging strength and flexibility. Various functional movement techniques have also been used with athletes, people with Parkinson's disease, or those with spinal injuries. Some Western movement therapies sprung from physical therapy but incorporated more than simply doing exercises a certain number of repetitions for a period of time. These therapies are concerned with body alignment, how the body moves, and how strong it is.

The Alexander technique is one type of a functional approach to movement. An instructor uses hands and verbal directions to guide the practitioner through every day movements such as standing, sitting, walking, and bending. The instructor makes sure that the head is always in proper alignment with the spine.

A new therapy used at the turn of the twenty-first century aids people who have suffered a brain injury, a stroke , or damage to the spinal chord and who have limited use of one of their arms. This therapy, called constraint-induced movement therapy, places the unaffected arm in a sling for 90 percent of the patient's waking hours for two weeks. All activities that would be used by this arm are taken over by the affected arm. A movement therapist helps the patient retrain the affected limb and may add additional repetitive movement practice to the daily regimen. This method is also used with children who have cerebral palsy and have one side of the body weaker than the other.

Neurokinetics, a form of Aston-Patterning bodywork, teaches ways to move with greater ease and also helps participants release tension within the body. It includes warm-up techniques and exercises to increase stability, flexibility, muscle tone, and cardiovascular fitness.

Mentastics, part of Trager psychophysical integration bodywork, uses light, swinging movements to encourage flexibility and ease of movement. In the past, this method worked successfully with polio patients.

Lulu Sweigart's Ideokinesis method uses imagery to train the brain to stimulate the right muscles for movement. Her techniques have been adapted by many other treatment modalities. Some have taken the concept and enhanced it by using visuals of proper movement and having participants watch for several minutes before attempting the movement. This has been used to develop videos that teach sports or dance technique. For example, on a cross-country ski video, instructors demonstrate a skill and then let the student watch a person skiing 20 minutes. This is done for several sessions, with the student following the movements of skiing for the allowed 20 minutes. Once the series of lessons are done, students report confidence and even skill the first time they put on skis.

Psychological therapies

Other methods incorporate dance techniques to pursue psychological goals such as integrating personality or dealing with childhood trauma. Some movement therapies treat emotional disorders or children at risk, such as those with autism or eating disorders.

Mary Stark Whitehouse's Authentic Movement therapy is quite unique. Instead of having a therapist or instructor guiding the participant, Authentic Movement has a mover and a witness. The witness is skilled in being non-judgmental, a careful observer, and an excellent interpreter and facilitator. In a session, the mover waits for an impulse to move and then follows through. The movements can be a reaction to a thought at the moment, a dream the mover had, or an emotion that the mover is now experiencing or one in the past that he or she wishes to explore. After the movement session, the witness engages the mover in dialogue about the experience and what was felt and what was observed. This technique has been a powerful tool for accessing preverbal or buried memories, creative ideas, or movements the mover is unaware of that somehow limit growth.

Personal growth therapies

Some movement therapies use dance or body awareness to explore self-knowledge, inner awareness, and creativity. Gabrielle Roth's Five Rhythms technique is improvisation dance based on five movement structures, done in a group setting. Participants experience freedom of expression, community, and personal growth.

Charlotte Selver's method of teaching sensory awareness sets up experiences for participants to focus on the sensations that are in their bodies during specific movements. Some of these movements are ordinary, such as picking up a book or running. However, with focused awareness, they are said to integrate the mind and the body. Likewise, the Gerda Alexander Eutony therapy focuses on inner awareness but connects that awareness with the participant's surroundings.

Similarly, kinetic awareness therapy, developed by dancer-choreographer Elaine Summers, explores the causes of pain and movement limitations within the body. Summers uses rubber balls of various sizes to help focus attention inward, support the body, or massage a particular bodily area. Her method helps people deal with chronic pain while it increases flexibility, coordination, and energy.

Taking this inner work further, body-mind center, developed by Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen, provides a comprehensive approach to awareness of the body in space, inner sensations within the body, and awareness of the skin, muscles, ligaments, nerves, and organs of the body. She uses balls, music, guided imagery, and sometimes touch in her individual sessions. Her work has been successful with patients rehabilitating from chronic injuries and with children with neurological disorders.

Eastern techniques

Eastern movement techniques have been used for physical and spiritual purposes for centuries. Some of those movement therapies include yoga , tai chi , and qigong , a Chinese Taoist breathing and movement technique. These Eastern movement techniques concentrate on body alignment as well as physical strength and flexibility. They also encourage body awareness and meditation of some kinds. Sometimes the meditation is overt, as in yoga sessions, which begin and end with a specified time for meditation. However, meditation can also be done during the movement itself during yoga and also with tai chi and qigong.

Precautions

Most movement therapists who work with people for rehabilitation or psychological reasons will consider an individual's physical and emotional limitations when devising a treatment plan. Therapists or instructors for other treatment modalities may not know about a person's limitations unless the individual discusses that fact with them. People who have chronic physical conditions, serious mental disorders, or acute injuries may need to consult a mental health provider or a medical doctor for suggestions on the most appropriate movement therapy for their specific conditions. As in most physical exercise programs, beginners should start slowly and increase the intensity of the movement as they are able.

Steps of recovery

Specific formulas for recovery, again, will depend on the individual's specific need for therapy, the treatment goals, and the nature of the therapy chosen.

Challenges

Because there are so many different forms of movement therapy available, it can be difficult to find the right program, especially one suited for the specific needs of older adults. Senior centers and nursing homes sometimes have movement specialists on staff or they may present special programs offering a new movement technique. Health care providers, mental health therapists, dance instructors, and community college personnel may be able to explain some of the different movement techniques available in the older person's community and suggest the best therapists or instructors.

Risks

If precautions are taken, the risks of movement therapy are small. As in all physical activities, if participants warm up before the activity and cool down afterward, even if the movement in the activity is very gentle, the risk of injury is minimal.

People who participate in movement modalities that deal with psychological issues or interior or spiritual work can sometimes rush the work and can feel overwhelmed by what they discover or disappointed if they don't experience what they thought they would. It is important for people to work with movement therapists that they trust so that they can discuss what has happened to them during the session.

Results

The general outcomes of physically-based movement therapies usually are increased strength, flexibility, and balance or alignment. Successful recovery for patients who are undergoing constraint-induced movement therapy occurs when the affected arm can carry out tasks with strength and confidence. The results for psychologically-based movement therapies often are the resolution of specific psychological issues, increased emotional stability, and a sense of self-confidence. Because movement therapies that deal with body awareness, creativity, personal growth, or spiritual insight are highly individual and very personal, results may not be consistent through all populations who participate in the therapy. Some people may achieve important gains; others may not achieve anything more than having a physical workout.

KEY TERMS

Choreographer —A person who creates the overall plan for a dance, usually with multiple dancers. Some choreographers also consult as movement specialists for speakers and actors and help them create gestures and appropriate body language.

Dance technique —The proper alignment and placement of the arms, legs, and feet, as well as specific dance steps.

Functional movement therapy —A type of therapy that physical fitness outcomes.

Participation in movement therapy groups by older adults, especially those in nursing homes and other institutions, improves moral and attitudes about aging. The U.S. Administration on Aging has concluded that dance and movement therapy improved the functional abilities of elderly adults who had neurological damage due to a traumatic brain injury or a stroke. A 2007 study suggested that the Argentine tango not only was an appropriate and beneficial movement activity for older adults, but was especially helpful to elderly people with Parkinson Disease because it improved balance, lessened gait problems, and reduced the number of falls they experienced. In fact, the Argentine tango had added benefits that traditional exercise programs did not afford. In addition, a three year study of dance in England in three assisted living facilities showed that not only was dance a good form of physical exercise, it enlivened the participants and gave them hope and a optimistic attitude that helped them manage other areas of their lives. It also was a positive way for participants to get to know their neighbors and to bond as a group.

Resources

periodicals

Hackney, Madeleine E; Kantorovich, Svetlana; and Earhart, Gammon M. “A study on the effects of Argentine tango as a form of partnered dance for those with Parkinson disease and the healthy elderly.” American Journal of Dance Therapy. (December 2007):109–128

Houston, Sara. “Dance for older people.” Primary Health Care. (October 2005):18–20

Varghese, Joe. “Cognitive and mobility profile of older social dancers.” Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. (August 2006):1241–1244

organizations

American Dance Therapy Association, 2000 Century Plaza, Suite 108, Columbia, MD, 21044-3263, 410-997-4040, [email protected], www.adta.org.

National Institute on Aging (NIA), 31 Center Drive, MSC 2292, Building 31, Room 5C27, Bethesda, Maryland, 20892, 301-496-1752, 301-496-1072, www.nia.nih.gov.

organizations

Association for Dance Movement Therapy (ADMTUK), 32 Meadfoot Lane, Torquay, UK, TQ1 2BW.

Janie F. Franz

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Movement Therapy

Movement therapy

Definition

Movement therapy refers to a broad range of Eastern and Western movement approaches used to promote physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being.

Origins

Movement is fundamental to human life. In fact movement is life. Contemporary physics tells us that the universe and everything in it is in constant motion. We can move our body and at the most basic level our body is movement. According to the somatic educator Thomas Hanna, "The living body is a moving body—indeed, it is a constantly moving body." The poet and philosopher Alan Watts eloquently states a similar view, "A living body is not a fixed thing but a flowing event, like a flame or a whirlpool." Centuries earlier, the great Western philosopher Socrates understood what modern physics has proven, "The universe is motion and nothing else."

Since the beginning of time, indigenous societies around the world have used movement and dance for individual and community healing. Movement and song were used for personal healing, to create community, to ensure successful crops, and to promote fertility. Movement is still an essential part of many healing traditions and practices throughout the world.

Western movement therapies generally developed out of the realm of dance. Many of these movement approaches were created by former dancers or choreographers who were searching for a way to prevent injury, attempting to recover from an injury, or who were curious about the effects of new ways of moving. Some movement therapies arose out of the fields of physical therapy , psychology, and bodywork. Other movement therapies were developed as way to treat an incurable disease or condition.

Eastern movement therapies, such as yoga , qigong , and t'ai chi began as a spiritual or self-defense practices and evolved into healing therapies. In China, for example, Taoist monks learned to use specific breathing and movement patterns in order to promote mental clarity, physical strength, and support their practice of meditation . These practices, later known as qigong and t'ai chi, eventually became recognized as ways to increase health and prolong life.

Benefits

The physical benefits of movement therapy include greater ease and range of movement, increased balance, strength and flexibility, improved muscle tone and coordination, joint resiliency, cardiovascular conditioning, enhanced athletic performance, stimulation of circulation, prevention of injuries, greater longevity, pain relief, and relief of rheumatic, neurological, spinal, stress , and respiratory disorders. Movement therapy can also be used as a meditation practice to quiet the mind, foster self-knowledge, and increase awareness. In addition, movement therapy is beneficial in alleviating emotional distress that is expressed through the body. These conditions include eating disorders, excessive clinging, and anxiety attacks. Since movements are related to thoughts and feelings, movement therapy can also bring about changes in attitude and emotions. People report an increase in self-esteem and self-image. Communication skills can be enhanced and tolerance of others increased. The physical openness facilitated by movement therapy leads to greater emotional openness and creativity.

Description

There are countless approaches to movement therapy. Some approaches emphasize awareness and attention to inner sensations. Other approaches use movement as a form of psychotherapy , expressing and working through deep emotional issues. Some approaches emphasize alignment with gravity and specific movement sequences, while other approaches encourage spontaneous movement. Some approaches are primarily concerned with increasing the ease and efficiency of bodily movement. Other approaches address the reality of the body "as movement" instead of the body as only something that runs or walks through space.

The term movement therapy is often associated with dance therapy . Some dance therapists work privately with people who are interested in personal growth. Others work in mental health settings with autistic, brain injured and learning disabled children, the elderly, and disabled adults.

Laban movement analysis (LMA), formerly known as Effort-Shape, is a comprehensive system for discriminating, describing, analyzing, and categorizing movements. LMA can be applied to dance, athletic coaching, fitness, acting, psychotherapy, and a variety of other professions. Certified movement analysts can "observe recurring patterns, note movement preferences, assess physical blocks and dysfunctional movement patterns, and suggest new movement patterns." As a student of Rudolf Laban, Irmgard Bartenieff developed his form of movement analysis into a system of body training or reeducation called Bartenieff fundamentals (BF). The basic premise of this work is that once the student experiences a physical foundation, emotional and intellectual expression becomes richer. BF uses specific exercises that are practiced on the floor, sitting, or standing to engage the deeper muscles of the body and enable a greater range of movement.

Authentic movement (AM) is based upon Mary Starks Whitehouse's understanding of dance, movement, and depth psychology. There is no movement instruction in AM, simply a mover and a witness. The mover waits and listens for an impulse to move and then follows or "moves with" the spontaneous movements that arise. These movements may or may not be visible to the witness. The movements may be in response to an emotion, a dream, a thought, pain, joy, or whatever is being experienced in the moment. The witness serves as a compassionate, non judgmental mirror and brings a "special quality of attention or presence." At the end of the session the mover and witness speak about their experiences together. AM is a powerful approach for self development and awareness and provides access to preverbal memories, creative ideas, and unconscious movement patterns that limit growth.

Gabrielle Roth (5 Rhythms movement) and Anna Halprin have both developed dynamic movement practices that emphasize personal growth, awareness, expression, and community. Although fundamentally different forms, each of these movement/dance approaches recognize and encourage our inherent desire for movement.

Several forms of movement therapy grew out of specific bodywork modalities. Rolfing movement integration (RMI) and Rolfing rhythms are movement forms which reinforce and help to integrate the structural body changes brought about by the hands-on work of Rolfing (structural integration). RMI uses a combination of touch and verbal directions to help develop greater awareness of one's vertical alignment and habitual movement patterns. RMI teacher Mary Bond says, "The premise of Rolfing Movement Integration... is that you can restore your structure to balance by changing the movement habits that perpetuate imbalance." Rolfing rhythms are a series of lively exercises designed to encourage awareness of the Rolfing principles of ease, length, balance, and harmony with gravity.

The movement education component of Aston-Patterning bodywork is called neurokinetics. This movement therapy teaches ways of moving with greater ease throughout everyday activities. These movement patterns can also be used to release tension in the body. Aston fitness is an exercise program which includes warm-up techniques, exercises to increase muscle tone and stability, stretching, and cardiovascular fitness.

Rosen method movement (an adjunct to Rosen method bodywork) consists of simple fun movement exercises done to music in a group setting. Through gentle swinging, bouncing, and stretching, every joint in the body experiences a full range of movement. The movements help to increase balance and rhythm and create more space for effortless breathing.

The movement form of Trager psychophysical integration bodywork, Mentastics, consists of fun, easy swinging, shaking, and stretching movements. These movements, developed by Dr. Milton Trager, create an experience of lightness and freedom in the body, allowing for greater ease in movement. Trager also worked successfully with polio patients.

Awareness through movement, the movement therapy form of the Feldenkrais method, consists of specific structured movement experiences taught as a group lesson. These lessons reeducate the brain without tiring the muscles. Most lessons are done lying down on the floor or sitting. Moshe Feldenkrais designed the lessons to "improve ability... turn the impossible into the possible, the difficult into the easy, and the easy into the pleasant."

Ideokinesis is another movement approach emphasizing neuromuscular reeducation. Lulu Sweigart based her work on the pioneering approach of her teacher Mabel Elsworth Todd. Ideokinesis uses imagery to train the nervous system to stimulate the right muscles for the intended movement. If one continues to give the nervous system a clear mental picture of the movement intended, it will automatically select the best way to perform the movement. For example, to enhance balance in standing, Sweigart taught people to visualize "lines of movement" traveling through their bodies. Sweigart did not train teachers in ideokinesis but some individuals use ideokinetic imagery in the process of teaching movement.

The Mensendieck system of functional movement techniques is both corrective and preventative. Bess Mensendieck, a medical doctor, developed a series of exercises to reshape, rebuild, and revitalize the body. A student of this approach learns to use the conscious will to relax muscles and release tension. There are more than 200 exercises that emphasize correct and graceful body movement through everyday activities. Unlike other movement therapy approaches this work is done undressed or in a bikini bottom, in front of mirrors. This allows the student to observe and feel where a movement originates. Success has been reported with many conditions including Parkinson's disease , muscle and joint injuries, and repetitive strain injuries.

The Alexander technique is another functional approach to movement therapy. In this approach a teacher gently uses hands and verbal directions to subtly guide the student through movements such as sitting, standing up, bending and walking. The Alexander technique emphasizes balance in the neck-head relationship. A teacher lightly steers the students head into the proper balance on the tip of the spine while the student is moving in ordinary ways. The student learns to respond to movement demands with the whole body, in a light integrated way. This approach to movement is particularly popular with actors and other performers.

Pilates or physical mind method is also popular with actors, dancers, athletes, and a broad range of other people. Pilates consists of over 500 exercises done on the floor or primarily with customized exercise equipment. The exercises combine sensory awareness and physical training. Students learn to move from a stable, central core. The exercises promote strength, flexibility, and balance. Pilates training is increasingly available in sports medicine clinics, fitness centers, dance schools, spas, and physical therapy offices.

Many approaches to movement therapy emphasize awareness of internal sensations. Charlotte Selver, a student of somatic pioneer Elsa Gindler, calls her style of teaching sensory awareness (SA). This approach has influenced the thinking of many innovators, including Fritz Perls, who developed gestalt therapy. Rather than suggesting a series of structured movements, visualizations, or body positions, in SA the teacher outlines experiments in which one can become aware of the sensations involved in any movement. A teacher might ask the student to feel the movement of her breathing while running, sitting, picking up a book, etc. This close attunement to inner sensory experience encourages an experience of body-mind unity in which breathing becomes less restricted and posture, coordination, flexibility, and balance are improved. There may also be the experience of increased energy and aliveness.

Gerda Alexander Eutony (GAE) is another movement therapy approach that is based upon internal awareness. Through GAE one becomes a master of self-sensing and knowing which includes becoming sensitive to the external environment, as well. For example, while lying on the floor sensing the breath, skin or form of the body, one also senses the connection with the ground. GAE is taught in group classes or private lessons which also include hands-on therapy. In 1987, after two years of observation in clinics throughout the world, GAE became the first mind-body discipline accepted by the World Health Organization (WHO) as an alternative health-care technique.

Kinetic awareness developed by dancer-choreographer Elaine Summers, emphasizes emotional and physical inquiry. Privately or in a group, a teacher sets up situations for the student to explore the possible causes of pain and movement restrictions within the body. Rubber balls of various sizes are used as props to focus attention inward, support the body in a stretched position and massage a specific area of the body. The work helps one to deal with chronic pain, move easily again after injuries and increase energy, flexibility, coordination, and comfort.

Body-mind centering (BMC) was developed by Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen and is a comprehensive educational and therapeutic approach to movement. BMC practitioners use movement, touch, guided imagery, developmental repatterning, dialogue, music, large balls, and other props in an individual session to meet the needs of each person. BMC encourages people to develop a sensate awareness and experience of the ligaments, nerves, muscles, skin, fluids, organs, glands, fat, and fascia that make up one's body. It has been effective in preventing and rehabilitating from chronic injuries and in improving neuromuscular response in children with cerebral palsy and other neurological disorders.

Continuum movement has also been shown to be effective in treating neurological disorders including spinal chord injury. Developed by Emilie Conrad and Susan Harper, continuum movement is an inquiry into the creative flux of our body and all of life. Sound, breath, subtle and dynamic movements are explored that stimulate the brain and increase resonance with the fluid world of movement. The emphasis is upon unpredictable, spontaneous or spiral movements rather than a linear movement pattern. According to Conrad, "Awareness changes how we physically move. As we become more fluid and resilient so do the mental, emotional, and spiritual movements of our lives."

Eastern movement therapies such as yoga, t'ai chi, and qigong are also effective in healing and preventing a wide range of physical disorders, encouraging emotional stability, and enhancing spiritual awareness. There are a number of different approaches to yoga. Some emphasize the development of physical strength, flexibility, and alignment. Other forms of yoga emphasize inner awareness, opening, and meditation.

Precautions

People with acute injuries and chronic physical and mental conditions need to be careful when choosing a form of movement therapy. It is best to consult with a knowledgeable physician, physical therapist, or mental health therapist.

Research and general acceptance

Although research has documented the effects of dance therapy, qigong, t'ai chi, yoga, Alexander technique, awareness through movement (Feldenkrais), and Rolfing movement, other forms of movement therapy have not been as thoroughly researched.

Training and certification

Training and certification varies widely with each form of movement therapy. Many approaches require several years of extensive training and experience with the particular movement form.

Resources

BOOKS

Halprin, Anna. Dance as a Healing Art: Returning to Health Through Movement and Imagery. Life Rhythm, 1999.

Hartley, Linda. Wisdom of the Body Moving: An Introduction to Body-Mind Centering. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Press, 1995.

Knaster, Mirka. Discovering the Body's Wisdom. New York, NY: Bantam Books, 1996.

PERIODICALS

Cottingham, John T., and Jeffrey Maitland. "Integrating Manual and Movement Therapy With Philosophical Counseling for Treatment of a Patient With Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis: A Case Study That Explores the Principles of Holistic Intervention." Alternative Therapies Journal (March 2000): 120-128.

Linda Chrisman

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