Dance/Movement Therapy and Anxiety



let's all take a deep breath in now hold it notice what you sense in your body maybe you feel a little bit of activation in your chest maybe some tension in your upper neck maybe so start to notice your eyes kind of darting around a little bit or maybe they're stuck in one position maybe you're starting to feel a little bit of a emergence of some kind of fear and maybe your thoughts are starting to go to you wondering when I'm going to tell you to exhale for those of you who did not hold your breath congratulations you your body told you that this was just too uncomfortable and you chose to take care of yourself for those of you who did do the exercise with me welcome you may have experienced just a glimmer of the beginning stages of a state of anxiety from an evolutionary perspective anxiety has passed on to us by our ancestors as a kind of healthy fear that gives us the ability to fight flee freeze or even faint in the face of danger however over millions of years the development of our consciousness and the sophistication of our nervous system has somehow morphed that healthy fear into a self-made anticipation about the future it's called anxiety anxiety affects all systems of the body and the person suffering may experience lightheadedness or dizziness dry mouth palpating heart or stomach disorders there's an interesting twist between the body and mind whereas the body has all of those physical symptoms that I just described yet the mind has the ability to decide what meaning made from those bodily symptoms for instance I can feel my heart beating rapidly whether I'm excited about seeing an old friend or a little nervous about giving an ADT a talk whether I'm excited or nervous my body has the same physiological response Gestalt psychologists Fritz Perls is to say anxiety is excitement with no place to go you may have experienced that when I first asked you to hold your breath at the beginning of this talk it's almost as if there's too much energy stored up in the body and it needs to be released in a way that a person feels in control so in light of all this I would like to introduce you to the concept of agency agency as we know it in everyday life means action power or operation and neuroscientists have recently discovered a visual difference in the neurological karlitz between having a body and moving your body and that voluntary action produces a sense of agency in other words movement can turn anxiety into agency dance movement therapy works to restore the resonance between body and mind by using up that stored energy and the dance movement therapy client moves their body into a meaningful form a dance in the psychotherapeutic process by moving with the dance therapist the client can begin to develop creativity and self-control rather than just a catharsis or a relaxation exercise so I'd like to tell you a story about a woman who I'll call Sasha a 20 year old college student who suffered from major anxiety disorder characterized by panic attacks and derealization after several sessions we traced her anxiety back to her relationship with her father who was very critical of her and he never really gave her any attention as far as what accomplishment she had done one day Sasha was talking in his session and I said shut would you like to try something to which he said yes I said what have you and please feel free to join me if you'd like to check this out yourself I asked Sasha to take her right hand and to trace the back of her left hand and to just feel the landscape of the back of her left hand just to be curious about it and then after a little while I asked her to kind of put her brain into the back of her left hand and feel herself being touched by her right hand allowing herself to feel her own body boundary and allowing herself to notice where she begins and where the environment where she ends and where the environment begins we did this for a while and then I had her move up to her elbows and we did a similar exercise there and then finally moving up to her shoulders so she could feel herself being contained by her own hands feeling her own sense of her body boundary Sasha brightened up at this point and said I'm hugging myself I love this next I said Sasha let's do some movement we're going to lift our arms and exhale I was inviting Sasha to activate her nervous system we're going to activate the sympathetic nervous system and the relaxation of the parasympathetic branch increasing and exhaling decrease Sasha was going a lot faster than I was and I said Sasha just try to follow me inhale and exhale at one point I said Sasha how're you doing she said I'm concentrating so I said okay let's let's let's do something different why don't you move and I'm gonna follow you Sasha perked up again and she said can I do this I said of course she said can I do this I said yes and we moved like that for a while her moving and me mirroring her movement helping her to feel a sense of her body and to be joined by a Sascha's moving around and suddenly she started slowing down and she said I'm feeling so emotional I I don't know what's happening and she said I feel cared for like you care enough to do what I want to do and after a moment she said this is great you should do this in a group a week later Sasha came bouncing into my office and told me that she made an appointment with her father on the phone and told him everything that she had been afraid to tell him in the past and she said to me you know what I don't know if he heard me or not but it doesn't matter I'm listening to myself now anxiety is a body mind split that's created in the mind but felt through the body dance movement therapy takes that energy and moves it through the body turning anxiety into excitement and giving it someplace to go

41 comments

  1. I never knew that anxiety was supposed to be a "healthy fear" but Tantia explains what this means and how dance and movement therapy enables one to demonstrate creativity and to relax and even take control of their fears. I like how it can create both calmness and excitement.

  2. One thing that really resonated with me is when she said "anxiety is excitement with no place to go". I thought that was the most accurate description of anxiety that I have heard. She explained to me so well why DMT works with anxiety because anxiety is reduced after all that extra energy is translated into movement.

  3. The idea of finding control as opposed to just relaxation is very interesting and I can see how movement would help someone to do that. That Sasha was given control of the session was powerful, the feeling of being cared for because someone is willing to be there for you and follow you is amazing to think about.

  4. Tantia's explanation of anxiety and how our body and mind react to it really helped me understand what someone who suffers from anxiety might feel. This talk was fascinating because it can help anyone learn how movement can create a sense of control of our body

  5. When she explained the connection/split between body and mind in an anxiety disorder, it made so much sense how the movement could aid the healing. Movement gives energy somewhere to go, rather than just building up inside you, and being in charge of the movement helps the client not feel so tied down, but rather, freer and in charge of her actions.

  6. By understanding that anxiety and excitement produce the same physiological response one can adapt dance therapy to do movements to liberate the negative stress from anxiety. Through dance therapy stored energy is used to liberate the anxiety and eventually recognize triggers by exploring one's own body movement.

  7. Anxiety can be extremely problematic in today's society. Having a spurt of energy and not knowing where to put it can definitely damage your mental state. When the presenter allowed Sasha to convert her energy into movements, and then the therapist moving with her is an example of mirroring. And this mirroring had Sasha get into the understanding that the therapist was with her. That people did care for her. DMT helped Sasha restore her body and mind. So Sasha even began to care for herself, and DMT helped her body take this excitement and found out where to direct it.

  8. I was interest in this topic because anxiety is the feeling that we always in our life. Dance therapy make people release their stress and anxiety by moving their bodies and make the positive energy come in. I think it is necessary to know how to release and control our emotion for daily. The nonverbal communication help people understand the message that body is trying to tell us. Also, we can change our feeling by changing our body poses.

  9. Some movements can make us feel anxious and by deciding not to do them, reflects our NVC of not feeling comfortable. Our minds have the ability to interpret stressful symptoms reflected in our bodies such as tense muscles, as anxiety, through the nvc of our body to our nervous system. I would have never thought of anxiety as "if there was too much energy stored up in the body" but now that I think about it, that is why our bodies react uncontrollably and reflects our emotins of anxiety through sweating, shaking, rush of blood flow or by not being able to speak. The mind gives meaning to our body's response of our nervous system, which expresses our emotions as nvc.

  10. I like how she described the connection between body and mind when it comes to anxiety where the body has symptoms like being light headed and the mind is figuring out what causes it. Dance/movement therapy for these patient allows them to express creative and self expression rather than being in a relaxation state. I think this would be beneficial for college students especially when finals week comes since all of us are full of anxiety.

  11. I found it so interesting to think about anxiety as your brain deciding why your body is having a negative response to something, because our hearts race when we're excited or when we're nervous. Sasha feeling cared for when her therapist mirrored her movement was a classic example of how mirroring can relate to empathy and give power to someone that feels powerless. I think this was a great example of one of the many avenues of dance/movement therapy, outside of work with children or extreme cases.

  12. I resonate with the aspect that anxiety can be described as energy within ourselves that doesn't have an outlet to be expressed. I see this a lot in my dad who experiences consistent anxiety, which also has given stomach issues. I found it interesting how the mirroring technique allowed the patient to experience a feeling of agency and control, which empowered her to talk with her dad.

  13. Wow, as someone who suffers from anxiety I found it really interesting how the dance therapy made Sasha more assertive and in tune with her emotions. I found it interesting that the dance therapist suggested feeling aware of her own body, done by the hand exercise she mentioned. I found myself trying it as I watched the video and I didn't realize how much it helps ground you. Something that a lot of anxiety sufferers struggle with during an anxiety attack is feeling like you aren't in your body. Many people who don't suffer from anxiety don't realize that anxiety is a constant thing, just humming in the background of your body. The hand exercise made me unexpectedly ground myself and remember that anxiety are just my thoughts, and not who I am as an individual.

  14. It is so interesting to see this perspective of dance therapy taking the energy that comes from anxiety and putting it through the body. This relates to nonverbal communication in the sense that it your movements are in return going to convey a sense of excitement. It is cool to hear that patients are also benefiting from dance/ movement therapy through development of creativity and having a sense of control. This is by far my favorite dance therapy video I have watched so far.

  15. I love her explanation of anxiety as "energy that has nowhere to go" I obtained the knowledge that excitement and nervous share the same symptom. For me, nervous is a negative word, I feel like I could mess something up any time if I am nervous. On the other hand, excitement is a positive word. So it is up to my choice whether the feeling that I am experiencing is being nervous or excitement. I also love how she is using the lightweight movement to help her client maintain anxiety.

  16. As some one who suffers from anxiety I complete relate with the explanation of how anxiety creates a barrier to the mind body connection of movement. The observance about how anxiety feels like a lot of energy that has no place to go connects non-verbal communication to anxiety by showcasing the overwhelming feeling of anxiety. In the same light, non-verbal behaviors allow that "energy that has nowhere to go", some place to go with out facing the difficult task of finding the right words to say. Altogether, this video meant a lot to me because it allowed me to remember the positive effects that dance and movement have, not only on me, but on other people who have anxiety.

  17. I feel like it should be mandatory for everyone to watch this video. Her definition of anxiety being split by the body and mind makes perfect sense. What I found interesting was how using DMT you can flow anxiety throughout your body and turning it into excitement. I also liked how she talked about mirroring and how it's a "reflection" of your emotions and allows you to listen to yourself.

  18. I found it so interesting how the movement channeled the mental feelings of anxiety and helped Sasha come to terms with how she was feeling about her dad. Nonverbal behavior played a major role in helping Jennifer understand Sasha and respond to how she was feeling. For example, when Sasha was anxious, she communicated that through fast movement efforts, then when she was calm she used slow movement efforts and mirrored Jennifer.

  19. Very inspiring video. I found the twist between the body and mind very interesting. That the body has all those psychical symptoms, but it is the mind that decides what meaning there are made from those bodily symptoms. Whether we are excited or nervous the body has the same physiological response. I never really thought about that. Besides that, I also found the experiment that Jennifer Frank Tania did with Sasha very learning.

  20. I find it really interesting to discuss the disconnection of the mind and body. I personally have definitely experienced this and still do. The re-purposing of the energy that manifests as anxiety into becoming excitement and movement is very interesting. This is a wonderful way of DMT as a replacement to verbal therapy.

  21. I love the part in this talk where Sasha was finally able to make a connection of herself and what she wanted; she was finally in control of herself. I think it is so fascinating to see what benefits even slight movements and mirroring can have on someone's confidence and mind/body connection.

  22. I love the idea of the body and the mind split- your mind can derail itself. I like how the body can be used to connect to the mind and bring it back down to earth. As someone who deals with anxiety like "Sasha's" I understand the feeling of letting your mind take over and not being able to control your nervous thoughts and emotions. The body is a powerful tool, and can be used to help. This is why forms of exercise can calm down anxious people.

  23. I relate to this as dancing has always been something I have used to help my anxiety. Being able to move and understand my body is very therapeutic and, like she said, helps me gain a sense of agency over my body.

  24. I like how she emphasized the idea of listening to your body and following what makes it feel comfortable. It also resonated with me that she establishes the idea of changing anxiety into a positive energy.

  25. This was a wonderful example of how dance movement therapy allows a person to enter a place where they can be aware of their body and their mind and how they are connected.

  26. Jennifer describes how dance/movement therapy can help someone turn their anxiety into agency. I really enjoyed the description of anxiety as excitement with no place to go as well. I enjoyed hearing this story because I have many close friends and family that have anxiety and I enjoyed her description of how theres a split between the mind and body that is felt within the body.

  27. I love the concept of empowerment through body movement. Taking the initiative and being proactive are often things I struggle with. I find myself settling within the comfortable boundaries set by others rather than exploring ways of being that may better suit my own social/emotional needs. My takeaway from this talk is to allow time for personal growth through creative expression (whether it involves dance/movement or other enjoyable energy/anxiety releases), so that I can learn to better exert my own agency.

  28. I loved the line "Anxiety is excitement with no place to go". I agree that dance therapy helps turn that feeling of anxiety into a sense of control. Personally, I have found dance very effective in relieving anxiety and giving myself that outlet of relief. It gives me a place to put all of that anxiousness and excitement that is healthy.

  29. I loved to hear the client's immediate reactions to her movement and how that simply feeling cared for encouraged her to reach out to her father and explain her feelings to him. Its crazy to see what feeling cared for, even by mirroring movements, can do. It is to my assumption that her movements (quick and repetitive) are signs of excitatory emotions/anxiety. Movement really is healing, no matter slow or fast; relaxing or fun and upbeat.

  30. It was so cool to hear about the body/mind connection in such a detailed yet easy to understand way. I like the way that she described dance/movement therapy as using the energy that often separates or gets between the body/mind connection in a productive way. It was also really interesting to hear about anxiety specifically being worked on in a session. It is cool that Sasha felt so cared for during the mirroring activity, just from having that kind of basic human connection through movement. Amazing.

  31. This is such a great demonstration of how dance and movement therapy can affect certain conditions and reverse negative energy into positive energy. The story of the college student and her experience with anxiety demonstrates the importance and value of being in touch with one's own body. The biggest lesson that I learned from this video is that anxieties something that is "created in the mind but felt through the body." This statement just goes to show that we can change our negative energy into something positive, and we can do this through moving our bodies and finding control within them.

  32. I really enjoyed how she noted that anxiety is a healthy type of fear that alarms our body. Too often do people think of anxiety as a very negative thing and do not realize that a healthy amount of anxiety is okay. I really liked how it explained "Sasha's" story and all of the great things the session did for her. Before, I never would have really connected DMT and anxiety but now it makes a lot of sense as to how its connected.

  33. I thought it was really cool when Dr. Tantia stated that simply moving your body (in comparison to simply just having a body) creates a sense of agency and how movement can turn anxiety into agency. The idea that dance movement therapy can turn the body-mind split of anxiety into something positive and useful is really interesting because anxiety is so prevalent today in our society, especially in our generation, this shows the power and impact of DMT and the potential it has to impact so many people worldwide​.

  34. I find it very interesting that she compared excitement to anxiety. I have never thought of reducing anxiety with movement rather than relaxation because I always assumed that people who suffered from anxiety need to be calmed down. I like her idea of channeling an individual's anxiety into excitement because it allows for them to be in a better mindset and not dwell on their challenges.

  35. The description of Sasha showing herself care through touch and then feeling another's care by the therapist's mirroring was beautiful. I really appreciated the emphasis of "healthy fear" and what was described as "turning anxiety into excitement and giving it some place to go." I think this approach to anxiety makes a lot more physiological sense and is a healthier way of understanding and then treating it.

  36. I liked that anxiety was discussed as an energy. Usually we refer to anxiety as something negative and a disorder. It reminds people that your anxiety can be relieved through different means. It was interesting how you can control how to release your energy and that movement can be a mechanism to rely on.

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