Systemic Dance Movement Therapy

like all forms of dance therapy employs typical dance-therapeutic methods and techniques such as Authentic Movement, Chace technique, or specific movement assignments to music. It also utilizes movement analysis according to Laban and Kestenberg to elucidate a person’s options for appropriation of the world and shaping of relationships. (see also Individual Sessions)

In a wider context systemic dance therapy is related to systemic thinking / acting itself, and perceives any person systemically as an inseparable sub-entity of a larger network.

Therefore basic assumptions and approaches from systemic (family) therapy complement the dance therapeutic interventions.

To name a few important mindsets and techniques of systemic therapy:

  • A substantial part of any person’s reality is subjective and constantly re-created by her/him; this creation of reality is usually affected by her/his personal conditioning which spawns our concepts and belief systems about what the world is like; these in turn cause certain behavioral patterns.

  • The family of origin plays an important role in the development of such belief systems and behavioral patterns; often strategies and patterns are transferred from the family of origin and automatically activated with other people / groups. (system effectiveness).

  • As therapist I always act, intervene, and question in such a way that the number of possibilities increases.

  • Also as therapist I think and act resource-oriented rather than problem-oriented; establishing a classical diagnosis is not important.

  • This builds on the insight that a „problem“ or an „illness“ only exist if we define and name them as such

  • As systemic therapist I describe a certain behavior merely as what it is instead of terming it „sick“, „pathological“, or „problem“.

  • I also remain neutral towards different behaviors or points of view; I work with what is present.

  • Reframing and assigning new connotations to certain states, points of view, behaviors etc. is a central part of this

  • Specific types of question, such as circular questions, help to expose certain connections and interdependencies which in turn can open up new options

  • Behavioral suggestions, rituals, or paradoxical interventions allow to experiment with new behavioral patterns in real-life

  • However when it comes to human dignity and fundamental rights I follow a clear value code and am decidedly non-neutral

  • Therefore I respect people, not concepts

  • The therapy only addresses whatever the client specifies; the therapeutic process starts with client and therapist clarifying and agreeing on the therapy’s scope; this agreement can be revisited and updated as the therapy progresses.

  • It may well prove helpful to schedule sessions with larger intervals, e.g. several weeks.

  • As systemic therapist I perceive in a person their connectedness and therefore interdependency of systems as well as their personal responsibility.

from: von Schlippe / Schweitzer: Textbook of systemic therapy and counseling;
S. Bender: Systemic dance therapy (unpublished manuscript)


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