Staff Training: Transformation through Dance Movement Therapy
As the holidays roll in for many of us, our work and personal schedules quickly begin to overwhelm us. It is important for us to recognize when we need a break and time to reset. Thankfully, our team at the House was able to participate in a transformative experience with Aisha Robinson, who understands the importance of our work at the House.
Before becoming a Board Certified Dance Therapist and Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor, she used to work as a supervisor at the House. Since then, she has founded the Bella Consulting Group, LLC, which focuses on wellness, diversity, equity, inclusion, and training. Not only has she founded a fantastic company, but she has also co-authored a chapter (Trauma-Informed Dance/Movement Therapy: Implications for Healing-Centered Education, Practice, and Research) in the book Dance/Movement Therapy for Trauma Survivors, which was released back in March of 2020. Needless to say, after all this time, we couldn’t be prouder of her accomplishments and thankful to have her back at the House.
After a brief introduction, Aisha assisted and led us through an exercise. We began by setting our intentions. Aisha ensured that everybody felt safe and comfortable as we proceeded through the exercise. With a kind voice and excellent command of the audience, she created an environment based on respect for one another and ourselves. We were instructed to get in touch with what we were truly feeling, and honor whatever that may be, and give in.
The first movement we engaged in, as simple as it may be, was breathing. We took the time to focus on our breaths and the emotions they evoked with each and every respiration. Next, we concentrated on the way our bodies felt when we took the time to focus on the simplicity of breathing in and breathing out. From this, we were able to calm ourselves and become one with the current moment and prepare ourselves to go further into the exercise. After this, we took time to check in, as we did with a majority of our movements, to make sure we were still comfortable. This exercise helped us become more aware of our stress but simultaneously removed it from the moment.
For many of us, stress comes from almost every aspect of our lives. We all have a million different things on our plate, and it’s tough to deal with them. As Aisha explained, “stress impacts every system of the body.” She explained to us that a lot of the pain we deal with could be attributed to the stress of our everyday lives. From headaches, muscle tension, increased heart rate, all can be from stress. To help us continue to destress, Aisha explained to us some more methods of self-care that we can practice. We moved our bodies to the music and felt our stress melt from our bodies, feeling lighter by the minute. We talked about creating healthy lifestyle habits to feed our bodies. We identified the importance of giving and receiving love by connecting with the ones we love and also setting boundaries, which can be challenging. Our spiritual and psychological well-being is just as important. By identifying safe places to reflect and practice gratitude, we can make a substantial positive impact on our day-to-day lives.
Music and movement played a huge role in all of this, as it’s something a lot of us in general use to help express our emotions. With Aisha’s help, we were able to listen to the music and move our bodies. For most of us, being in the office and all, it was just sitting in our desk chairs. Still, knowing that nobody was there to judge and being able to move freely and truly feel the music was a liberating experience. For a little while, the weight and stress of the day were gone, and we were all able to enjoy this mental break.
Staff all around were eager to share what they had felt during these experiences. Some were overwhelmed with peace and relaxation, some with a million other emotions. As our session ended, the chat flooded with comments from staff members sharing how they felt about the experience, “Felt like a treat for myself!” and “It was freeing.” Everybody recognized how vital this time together was and how they would hopefully be able to continue using these practices in their daily lives, all thanks to our dear friend, Aisha.