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Dance Movement Psychotherapy: reconnecting you to your authentic self

Dance Movement Psychotherapy supports a range of diagnoses such as Depression, Anxiety, Dementia, Trauma Recovery and Eating Disorders. DMP supports a person to understand links between their feelings and actions by integrating and rebuilding the relationship between body and mind.

As is common with many mental health diagnoses, symptoms experienced can directly impact the body. DMP supports a client to regain a sense of body ownership and management of these symptoms. The creative process of dance and movement provides a vessel of expression and communication beyond words, promoting self-acceptance and understanding. The profession is continually informed by research, initiatives and projects that open up and extend the field of DMP practice.

Dance Movement Therapist Kimberley Pena shares her thoughts on connecting with our authentic selves.

Are you the object or subject of your life?

Do you ever feel like the object of your own life instead of the subject?

As a practicing dance movement psychotherapist, I am all too aware how quickly we can suppress our thoughts and feelings, burying them deeper into our own bodies; creating a society cognitively overwhelmed and physically burdened.

Some may argue that objectifying ourselves is a survival mechanism, because to acknowledge our subjectively is perhaps far too vulnerable.

So let me break it down.

The way I see it:

The objectified self = a functional entity.

Subjective self = an ever changing living being.

Bear with me, I promise the psychobabble will become clear and relevant to YOU!

In therapy:

So, from a clinical perspective, when in the therapy room clients can at times objectify the therapist in order to satisfy their need. In other words the therapist is seen/offered as a ‘tool’ for clients to use in their personal journey of recovery. For some therapists this model works well in maintaining boundaries and minimising attachment, HOWEVER this has never been my style.

Feeling first, thought later

As a Dance Movement Psychotherapist, to rid myself of my own subjectivity would be to deny my humanity. To become someone else’s object, on a functional level, is anti-feminist and creates disconnect, this is something we experience all too often in our current climate.

In my experience, meeting a person in need, where they are at, on a very human relatable level is where healing can develop from, rather than become the ‘all knowing, all being’ functional expert.

Subjectivity allows us to track our own emotions and our own experiences to relate, empathise, understand and learn. A phrase I often say to clients I work with is ‘You are the expert of yourself, I am here to help you remember forgotten chapters and support you in the discovery of new ones’. Placing myself in the ‘all knowing, all being’ therapist role has NEVER worked for me. It may lead to an early discharge from treatment, but it’s a short term fix where the client leaves superficially filled with someone’s else’s wisdom instead of trusting in their own.

How this relates to You:

Sadly, I have begun to notice that this tension between our objectified and subjective self is not something confined to the session room. One click on social media and we are engulfed by personal objectification.

To be honest, I have a love/hate relationship with social media.

It seduces me and I can’t help but flirt with its hashtags and flattering filters.

When social media is seducing me, I can see how quickly it persuades me to become the product and object of my own life. Giving me a voice and platform but void of any tangible connection, due its lack of that very basic, but necessary, physical human connection.

The social media platform creates an advert for our lives, but I am pretty sure I am not the only one who would rather fast forward through the ads to get to the programme, aka person.

So I invite you, in your day to day life, to notice when you are subjectively living and when you are slipping into the role you feel expected or demanded to play. If you are, you may be beginning to objectify your own life.

Dance Movement Psychotherapy creates a space to rebuild your subjective relationship with yourself, and your life, because we are supporting the integration of mind and body, aka feeling and action. Bringing our awareness to our bodies allows us to connect with our authentic selves because we aren’t relying on our thoughts, we are relying on sensations and feelings. Our minds have evolved in such a way that we have become accustomed to filtering our words, which can create a disconnect between what we say and how we are actually feeling. Who ever came up with the phrase ‘the body doesn’t lie’ was not wrong

Whether you read this from the position of therapist or client or both, I would encourage you to connect with your own body in the moment; because, after all, your body in the moment is the only place life exists.

Author's Bio


Kimberley Pena gained her Masters in Dance Movement Psychotherapy (DMP) from the University of Roehampton. Kimberley facilitates Dance Movement Psychotherapy sessions in both the NHS and within her own private practice based in Cheltenham.

Kimberley is passionate about dance and movement as an intervention to support expression, understanding and healing. Her passion for dance and people has led her to present at the European Association of Dance Therapy Annual Conference, in Milan, on ‘Embodied Ways of Understanding’

For more information on Kimberley’s practice and DMP visit Moving Through Life or connect with her via Twitter here

Association of Dance Therapy

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