Dance and movement therapy and Children with Additional Needs:

Dance and creative movement therapy can help the child to realise their potential and contribute to the following:
1) Provide a form of therapeutic recreation through music, movement and art

2) Develop the child’s physical abilities

3) Put the child in touch with him/herself the emotions, power of concentration, memory and logic

4) Provide an outlet for stress and emotional frustration created by illness and disability.

5) Kindle a sense of creativity, spontaneity and initiative

6) Increase flexibility of thought and movement patterns

7) Create new interest areas

t_girona_17bThe Goals:

“The dance therapist is not teaching dance in order to develop performing artists, but in using her technical skills and her personal creativity and spontaneity to enable people to become more aware of themselves on a human, realistic level.” (Chace, 1964)

  1. An holistic integration of mind and body through the emotions
  2. Socialization and integration within a group system
  3. Body awareness
  4. New healthy self-esteem
  5. A new relationship with oneself, with others and with the environment
  6. Muscular coordination and developing movement
  7. Non-verbal and verbal creative expression
  8. Fun and relaxation

Didactic basis for the development of the unit:

  •  Movements of connection
  • Rhythm
  • Sensori motor movements
  • Music as a way to facilitate creativity and expression
  • To awaken the affects
  • To organise the sensitivity
  • Art as a creative pathway
  • Spontaneous development through play and dance drawing on the imagination
  • Speaking without words

Strategies of action:

Each dance movement therapy session is structured within a child-centred framework, which works with the elements of unconditional positive regard, empathy and congruence within a therapeutic relationship. In the context of dance therapy, congruence would be expressed through mirroring or shaping and non-verbally reflecting a complementary quality. Unconditional positive regard through empathy that is reflected through the emphatic body connection (Stephanie, 2006: 12)

Stages of the sessions:

  1. A theme will be decided on for each session
  2. A safe space is created
  3. Welcome circle for each child
  4. Warming up our bodies
  5. Individual and group dances / games / play proposed
  6. Creative expression
  7. Relaxation and warm down
  8. Closure of the sessionshepton_aut_class_10

Techniques used:

  • 1) Dance movement therapy inspired by the work of Marian Chace who worked mainly in groups and who developed an approach to dance therapy that emphasizes communication of feelings in the context of group interaction. She started as a choreographer and worked a lot with the structure related to the circle as well as with rhythm. The rhythm according to Chace organises individual behaviour and creates solidarity and a feeling of contagion; she saw it as a therapeutic tool for communication and body awareness (Lewis, 1979)
  • 2) Therapeutic art described by Dr. Esther Dreiffus-Kaftan in (Nguyen, 2011: 36) uses the process of creation and imagination as a means of symbolic communication to allow the release of emotions and inner conflicts. This approach aims to help clients maintain emotional and mental well-being by realising underlying thoughts and gaining a better understanding of themselves and their relationships.
  • 3) Music in a therapeutic context as described by board certified music therapist and director of music therapy for the children’s music fund, Vanya Green of the Mattel children’s hospital at UCLA, the paediatric pain programme.

“The power of music therapy lies in its ability to connect with people on a deep emotional level and alter attitudes and perceptions improving psychological well-being.” (Nguyen, 2011: 35)

The use of music with dance has many benefits, it may overcome self-consciousness in regards to movement or shyness in the presence of others; it may serve as a catalyst in activating memories and associations, it may stimulate new impulses and emotions and it can provide a pleasurable experience (Beltran-Lucila, n.d.)

Evaluation of the child’s progress:

The sessions / projects are evaluated each month by means of analysis of clinical notes kept by the responsible person. Also by a questionnaire for key workers / teachers / parents to complete regarding the physical, emotional and mental disposition / communication / relationships / happiness levels of the child etc.

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