Transference

In Dance Movement Therapy (D/MT) transference and counter transference play a crucial role in the therapy session. Understanding the differing theories of transference, where and how they take place, whether on an emotional, physical, cognitive, or neurological level is an important foundation for the effective treatment of a client. It is because transference is primarily an unconscious process that D/MT as an effective avenue into the subconscious can allow for transference actions to become consciously embodied. It is this embodiment of these subconscious processes that allows for the exploration and bringing to light transference and thus one part of ‘healing’ for the client.

In D/MT client(s) move, through posture and/or gesture in ways that is less likely to be censored. For instance, a therapist asks a question and the client hesitates and chooses their words and answers, censoring (either consciously or not) their response. It’s a cognitive process that we all do generally with little thinking or effort. The therapist asks the same questions and directs the client to respond with the hands in a gesture or a posture with a fuller body expression. I’ve noticed over the last twenty some years that people tend to respond/react to this type of direction with the same hesitation and then begin to move in ways that express something rarely captured by words. I believe this is because people are used to censoring their words but less so with the body.

A great example of this is the Stress-less classes I have taught over the years. Participants almost always identify the body as the way they know they are really stressed out. They report grinding their teeth, clenching their fists, clenching their butt muscles, as the primary resources of how they are feeling/thinking. It’s the bodies uncensored expression of what is happening internally that they notice most. In Dance Movement therapy it is what the body says that we notice most.

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