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Dance and movement therapy

Cristina Muntean
Asociatia “Casa Faenza”, Timisoara

- 2007-Jan-19 -
dance and movement

Movement is a universal way of communication and a lever of development beginning with the sensory-motor level up to the relational one. This article focuses on the importance of the use of movement and dance in the therapy of children with Special Educational Needs (S.E.N) and also reveals details related to the use of mirror in this sort of therapy.

Many thanks to the volunteers from Chance for Life Foundation for helping with the translation of this article!

Movement is a universal way of communication and a lever of development beginning with the sensory-motor level up to the relational one. This article focuses on the importance of the use of movement and dance in the therapy of children with Special Educational Needs (S.E.N) and also reveals details related to the use of mirror in this sort of therapy.

Movement is a universal way of communication. All children move, one way or another, and children with Special Educational Needs are not an exception. Some children with disabilities don’t have a properly developed verbal language, but they are in the possession of a real motional language. Thus, non-verbal communication is a very efficient way of relating to them. Few experiences use the human being to its full extent like dance does: body, emotions and intellect all together. Moving along with others usually helps at creating new relationships. Due to the communication by means of motion the child is more self aware and more capable of interacting with others. The therapist insists on developing trust and relations with the help of certain techniques.

Leventhal (1981) claims that therapy through movement and dance for a S.E.N. child begins with the sensory-motor and perceptual development, then the integration of these information and only after this, one carries on with forming the body’s diagram and with the development of the Self notion. Body’s scheme is one of the basic notions in human development. Schilder (1950) defines body’s scheme as a three-dimensional image of our own body that we picture in our minds – it is the way that we see our body. The psychic structures needed for the symbolic representations of other things can’t take shape without the body’s diagram as long as they rely on previous acquisitions.

Schilder (1950) points out the bound between movement and body’s scheme. He sustains that motion leads to a better orientation reported to our body. We don’t know much of our body if we don’t move it, and movement is a unifying factor between the different parts of the body.Many specialists agree with Schilder that through movement we touch or see the environment and the objects and thus our knowledge about our body increases. Chace thinks that dance therapy offers man a way of interacting with the environment and with the others through the use of an elementary form of communication, especially when he is restricted by a handicap. The more the body’s scheme is better shaped, the more the difference between environment and the others is clearer. This differentiation is needed for the development of some relations. That’s why movement and body’s scheme are two major concerns of therapists.

One elementary principle is the synthesis of physical and relational aspects of movement. It doesn’t matter which physical abilities are centered as long as the development of the relations amongst people is primary. Behavioral changes take place thanks to movement and they are sustained through motion by interpersonal connections with children. The meaningful changes that take place at movement’s level can affect the total performance. That is why, by extending the motional moves of a child we offer him more chances to develop the acquisitions which allow him to understand and survive in the environment. The process itself is important in this job, and not the result. The acknowledgement of the bodily “self” has a major importance for the organization of impulses and for internalizing the control. Children must understand their own bodies and their ability to move before being able to face the external demands of the environment.

The use of mirror is a method of reflecting (but not used to imitate other people’s moves) which offers a way of understanding the experiences of a child at a bodily level. This method not only offers information about the child – otherwise hidden information- but also gives back the child the message that he is seen and accepted just the way he is. In various occasions this acceptance moves the child’s attention from the internal stimulus to the ones from the environment which will further lead to the increase of interactions. The therapist mustn’t sit in front of the mirror when he doesn’t control his behavior or when this action doesn’t offer the possibility of a positive change. As the adult knows the children he will be able to notice the beginning of an agitation state and thus he’ll be able to structure the meeting in order to avoid the loss of control.

For example, the mirror can be used during the group session when the therapist chooses a certain song, activity or a certain support which reflects the energy and the dynamics of the group. During the sessions of dance and motion therapy the specialist always tries to create an atmosphere which is consistent and full of acceptance. This program is often slow and develops at child’s will. After reflecting in the mirror there will take place many other accomplishments: the visual contact, the touch, the vocalizing, the rhythmic actions, the music, different ways of support and a vast variety of sensory -motor activities. All these help at building a relationship and also at creating the body’s scheme. Therapy through dance and movement at S.E.N. children involves the sensorial consciousness, the acknowledgement of the body’s parts, and the dynamic of movement and in the end, involves more expressive moves.

Contact “Casa Faenza” at: telephone +40 0256 487 002.

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full text:

din todeauna mi am dorit sa am posibilitatea de de a participa la un asemenea curs .este cea mai potrivita terapie ait pt copii cit si pt adulti ..mi ar face deosebita palcere daca se poate sa comunicam pe mes sau pe mail. adresa de mes este aceeasi suces si felicitari

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Barbu Dana
Buna ziua, sunt kinetoterapeut la CSEI brasov si as dori sa stiu cum pot intra in posesia acestei carti. Va multumesc anticipat. Cu stima Dana Barbu