Dance Movement Therapy (DMT) Project was launched in SAA in August 2014. The Dance Therapy was conceived and promoted by Marin Chace who was known as the Grand Dame of DMT. In 1942 Marin was invited to work in the St Elizabeth’s Hospital, a Federal Psychiatric Hospital in Washington, where the wards were getting filled with psychological casualties of World War Two. This was the period before the advent of psychotherapy drugs and there was openness to new methods of treatments, particularly through group processes. ” Dance for Communication” was introduced at the St Elizabeth’s Hospital, which became the start of a new mental health therapy called Dance Movement Therapy (DMT).
DMT is based on the idea that the Body and Mind are inseparable, and it works to improve the social skills as well as the relational dynamics amongst its clients. Through this therapy clients gain deeper self-awareness through a meditative process which involves movements, motions and realisation of one’s body. DMT is different from other forms of rehabilitative treatments because it allows creative expression and is more holistic. It treats the person as a whole- body, mind and spirit. A variety of dance styles are used in DMT which has four stages: Preparation, Incubation, Illumination and Evaluation.
At SAA we use modern dance, folk dance and classical dance. For e g in Kathak one needs to tap hard on the floor which leads to release of anger from the mind. Similarly the body movements and facial expresses in Mohiniattom helps clients overcome all their emotions. The circular and interlock movements in Modern Dance help the Clients to feel united and move freely with other people.
After starting DMT sessions in SAA, we have observed good improvements among clients. They appear more confident, communicative and willing to talk without inhibitions, so much so that they have become confident enough to do solo performances. It has been a big challenge to all of them to overcome such odds and reach this stage. With continuous DMT sessions, and more and more innovations it is hoped that our clients will gain more and more confidence to rise up and face the challenges posed by their illness Meera Karunakaran – DMT Volunteer