It might not be a very uncommon concept abroad, but in India it is just starting to turn heads.
At a time when ever-burgeoning stress and anxiety have become a part of everyone’s daily lives, therapy comes highly recommended. While many have heard of therapy, most only think of it as sitting on a couch with a doctor-like figure in front of them, as they talk about their mental health issues and discuss solutions. In reality, however, a lot of other unique therapy procedures also exist, and one is gaining immense popularity here in India — dance/movement therapy (DMT).
It might not be a very uncommon concept abroad, but in India it is just starting to turn heads. This type of therapy allows one to address issues — many from their subconscious — through the use of a physical activity like dance. Movement is different for every individual. Their particular way of moving is seen as a form of communication. Dance/movement psychotherapists try to help individuals find a language that expresses their experience. DMT as a form of psychotherapy is now on the rise in metro cities.
“Mental health across the globe is still a bit of a taboo. People are not open to talk about these issues, unlike a physical health issue for which they will run to the doctor. So, it sometimes become difficult for people to take professional help in a proper way,” believes Abhay Srivastava, a dance/movement therapy facilitator.
Speaking of what makes this experience unique, Srivastava says, “Being very cognitive and rational by nature, humans keep gathering beliefs, opinions and notions from their surroundings, upbringing and conditioning. This is why the conventional talk therapy might become difficult. One cannot be sure if what they are sharing is actually their own understanding of the situation or what they have absorbed. But, in case of your body, there is no fixed syntax. In movement therapy we don’t do any kind of analysis or interpretation. It is more of a process work.” He believes that the change and healing in such therapy takes place within an individual. “Mind and body are interconnected. So, instead of approaching through the mind and coming to the body, what if we start approaching the body and let it have an impact on the mind?” he says.
Although they sound similar, DMT is very different from usual dance classes. “While a dance class usually is instructor-led, where people learn movements and perform, DMT is client-led where the facilitator holds space for the people to find their own body movement and tune into their inner-selves”, explains creative dance/movement therapy facilitator Tilottama Dutta. While therapy sounds like a concept restricted to adults, DMT is one form of therapy, which is not so. Children and teenagers can also benefit from it. Some organisations help children develop intellectually, personally, socially and emotionally through this programme.
This practice of connecting with one’s inner-self is trending amond Indians of all ages, from various walks of life. Jenika Shah, a travel blogger, who attends DMT workshops recounts, “Getting to meet so many new people and rediscovering myself along with them is a very cathartic process in itself.” She feels that the coming together of so many different personalities and their movement patterns under one-roof makes this symbiosis of the soul and the physical entity, a wonderful experience.
From one-on-one sessions to cleanse the mind to group sessions aimed at self-expression, the workshops include a plethora of therapeutic activities. A lot of institutes are nowadays providing certificate courses to help people get trained professionally to facilitate these workshops.