‘Children’s Mental Health problems helped through dance movement psychotherapy’
The Duchess of Cambridge on a recent visit to The Treehouse, one of EACH's hospices. HRH is Patron of EACH. Photo credit Nick Davis, Copyright The Royal Foundation.
The duchess of Cambridge in headline news today shared that she believes the “overwhelming” challenges faced by children today leave some “struggling to cope”, leading to depression, anxiety, self-harm and addiction. She has the passion through supporting a charity called pace2be to do something about it through speaking out about the fact that children today heave mental health issues that they feel they cannot talk about. What is more is that they do not get the help that they need.
From the perspective of a movement psychotherapist, I agree as we can see the bodies of children seem to carry an overwhelming amount of responsibility, pain and suffering due to perhaps unexpressed emotion, or ways to be themselves. This seems sad, as really children should be carrying their dreams, vital energy and curiosity within and about them. Sadly too, some have bodies of old people, humped shoulders, protecting their hearts and faces of stress and worry. Our culture and society seems to be in desperate need of help, we can see this in these children!
She also goes on to share:
“A child’s mental health is just as important as their physical health and deserves the same quality of support. No one would feel embarrassed about asking for help for a child if they broke their arm. We really should be equally ready to support a child coping with emotional difficulties.”
Early intervention in childhood problems like bullying and stress can alleviate suffering that could lead to mental health problems. Every year a third of the 94,000 children in schools use this charity as a drop-in service to talk about their problems which range from bullying to drug abuse in the home, and 4,000 children are given one-to-one counselling http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/kate-middleton/11414127/Watch-Duchess-of-Cambridges-video-message-in-support-of-Childrens-Mental-Health-Week.html
Helping children deal with emotional issues before they become mental health problems is something that can be addressed in a solid and fun way. This is one of the beauties of the person-centered approach to psychotherapy. Especially for those children who have issues with authority as they learn via another route which is less directive and comprises of essential elements of human relating proposed by psychologist Carl Rogers (1902 – 1987). This environment as Rogers explained is one where the child feels free from psychological and physical threat and is achieved through an empathetic psychotherapist who is accepting i.e. having unconditional positive regard and genuine which is being congruent and authentic moment by moment.
Some factors important to healthy Mental Health are:
- Feeling loved and valued, feeling safe
- Acceptance of who you are
- Having a sense of belonging
- Being interested in life
- Having the strength to deal with difficult situations, resilience and solve problems
- Being given opportunities to learn and to succeed
All of the above will emerge through a movement psychotherapy intervention programme and I tend to feel that
rather than talk and talk the whole time that movement and play reaches the child’s world sooner than words. However, I would like to mention that we do have time in these sessions set aside for talking.
Mental health issues can come from early trauma, which alters the brains stress response system in the child. The national institute of mental health suggests that resilience is shaped by the environment http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/brain-development-during-childhood-and-adolescence/index.shtml.
In dance movement psychotherapy we can foster social competence and problem solving skills through an environment that is fun and that builds relationships of trust; where the care system in the child is nurtured through activities and, a relationship that is non-threatening and playful thus promoting intellectual and emotional integration through reprinting the traumatic memories in the brain with positive, life enhancing one (Bloom 2006; Damasio 1999, Berrol 2006). Dance movement therapy is founded on the concept that the body and the mind interact and that physical movement changes and affects mental health and functioning (Payne 1992)
With this in mind, my invitation is to come and dance for mental health. If you would be interested in sessions for your child, please contact me
With warmest wishes