Movement therapy for mental wellness
Movement therapy is medicine for your mental wellness. Emotions are felt as physical sensations within the body. Memories and feelings are stored in the somatic nervous system (in your body) as well as in the limbic part of your brain. The longer you experience an emotion, the more it affects your posture. Your beliefs shape your posture. By moving the body we gain access to those somatic memories and ‘remember’. By moving the body we release those emotions.
Humans are creatures of habit. We get stuck in patterns of movement and thinking. In movement therapy, we change the patterns of movement in your body and change the possibilities for your life.
Can you remember a time when you felt really happy? Or perhaps you’ve witnessed a little kid that is unable to contain their happiness, dancing with joy around the room. You feel that emotion as physical sensations throughout your body. Now imagine you’re anxious and perhaps you’ve been feeling that way for a long time. Feel how tight your chest is, how rigid your shoulders are. Through movement therapy, we can alter how you feel by changing your breathing, your posture and your movement patterns.
Movement therapy brings awareness to your body and brings unconscious thoughts to consciousness. But you don’t have to run a marathon to feel better. What if you could move your body in gentle, natural ways that invite energy and vitality into all areas of your body and release tension?
Did you know that moving in synchronization with other humans makes you feel better emotionally because it brings parts of your brain back online after trauma?
Where movement therapy comes from
The original theories of body psychotherapy were developed by psychiatrists Wilhelm Reich, Alexander Lowen and John Pierrakos. They based their theories on the idea that emotional and psychological tension can get trapped or held in the muscles of our body and can be released through breathing, movement and expression.
Contemporary psychiatrists Peter Levine, Pat Ogden, Bessel van der Kolk, Babette Rothschild (and more) have expanded on those original theories, using neuroscience to understand how and why moving the body has such an impact on our minds and mental well-being. They also bring gentler, more trauma-sensitive ways of working with the body.
Dance-movement therapists such as Bonnie Bainbridge-Cohen and Ruella Frank looked at the way that we learn to move in our early years, and conclude that missed, or dysfunctional patterns of movement in infancy can impact the way we move as an adult. Being unable to fully push, reach, grasp and yield as a baby has an impact on our way of relating to others as an adult. Restoring or relearning patterns of movement as an adult leads to an improvement in our relationships with others.
The idea is that we can impact our mental well-being by moving, breathing and expressing ourselves vocally and physically.
Shifts in well being happen when we become more aware of our body and internal sensations. We become more conscious of the wisdom of the body.
If you are anxious, you can take steps to ground yourself and bring your mind into the present.
If you’re depressed and unmotivated, let’s do some breathing and movement to increase the amount of oxygen and energy available in your body.
In movement therapy we’ll focus on connection with the body-mind, gently bringing movement and energy to all areas of your body, inviting more flow back into these areas, and into your life.
- Ground you in your body
- Bring awareness to internal sensations
- Deepen your respiration
- Release physical and emotional tension
- Promote deep relaxation
- Enlarge your self-expression and promote self-confidence
But don’t just take my word for it. Empirical (scientific) research undertaken on 128 people in Germany in 2006 showed that Bioenergetic exercises improved the level of anxiety, depression and social insecurity in the participants. They also had a reduction in the amount of anger they felt inside and were better at expressing themselves.
Want more of that? Contact Sarah on 0450 22 00 59
Sarah also runs weekly movement therapy sessions as part of her therapy group and regular sessions for students at the Institute of Body Psychotherapy. She has a background in Latin dance and is known for her upbeat personality and vibrancy.
Sarah offers individual movement therapy sessions and corporate group movement therapy sessions (price on enquiry).
Please give Sarah a call on 0450 22 00 59 if you would like more information about this.
Movement therapy is ideal for any body shape, any level of flexibility and any age over 18.
It is your choice to move as much or as little as you want. For example, Sarah has clients with shoulder, knee and hip replacements who work within their own limit and adapt movements to suit their own body (or just don’t do that particular movement). Please remember to move towards pleasure not pain.
These gentle grounding techniques are some that we might do at the beginning of a session to get you more present in your body:
The longing position or reverse waterfall is one of the poses we often use at the end of a session. It helps your body to release tension and let go.
(You can find more videos on the Anxiety page)
Call or SMS Sarah on 0450 22 00 59 if you have any burning questions.
If you’re not ready to book just now, you can sign up to my monthly client newsletter and see what I’m sending my clients. I never give away contact details and you can unsubscribe at any time.
Different forms of movement therapy will also help you regulate your nervous system by either calming you down or letting out excess energy. Even 5 minutes of gentle walking has a very positive effect on your mood. I’ve written a blog post about the different kinds of exercise that are beneficial for anxiety and depression.
Sarah’s Depression and Anxiety Counselling Services
In addition to movement therapy, Sarah’s North Brisbane psychotherapist clinic offers:
- Body Psychotherapy
- Group Therapy
- Depression Counselling
- Relationship Counselling
- Anxiety Counselling
- Body Psychotherapy Workshops