‘It is a privilege to go deep into the process of therapy, but to enter from the perspective of Creative Arts Therapy, makes the zone of psychotherapy itself more approachable’, was a common thought that surfaced in a handful of conversations with presenters at the fourth International Conference, presented by Creative Movement Therapy Association of India (CMTAI) in association with Department of Psychology, Christ University, Bengaluru. The focus of the conference was ‘Enhancing the body-mind nexus’ and it was a significant step forward in connecting the various movement approaches being practiced in today’s scenario and laying equal emphasis on the theoretical and practical understanding of strategies followed today.
The sessions by facilitators such as Tripura Kashyap, Brinda Jacob Janvrin, Anshuma Kshetrapal and few others constituted a kind of a spine of the conference. The sessions by Evan Hastings, Mike Clarke and Maitri Gopalakrishna added to the wonderful variety, while ‘Henna and Healing in Art Therapy’ by Krupa Jhaveri, ‘The Puzzle of progress in Expressive Arts Therapies’ by Avantika Malhautra and a handful more were the interesting additions this year.
Circle of therapy
There were five sessions by Ritu Shree, Katia Verreault, Tripura Kashyap, Charithra Ballal and Eric Miller, which were about opening out the circle of therapy to an extended group, thereby making the process more explicitly holistic.
Ritu Shree’s session ‘Dance Movement Therapy for Families of Children with Autism’, discussed how dance/movement therapy may effect communication between parents and their children with autism, marital relationship and sense of well-being in the family through an experience of sensory mirroring backed by videos.
An introduction to Family Constellations work alongside Art Psychotherapy and the integration of the two modalities was the purpose of Charithra Ballal’s session — ‘Art Psychotherapy & Family Constellation Work.’ A family constellation supposedly attempts to reveal a previously unrecognised systemic dynamics that spans multiple generations in a given family and to resolve the effects of that dynamic by encouraging the subject to encounter representatives and accept the factual reality of the past.
Tripura Kashyap’s session ‘Therapeutic Dance in Education’ was about taking therapeutic dance to the educational institutions. Participants experienced a mix of customisable movement activities and fun-filled games that promote physical fitness, self-expression, reduce gender-divides, alongside enhancing body awareness and coordination, while the subject matter gets concretised in children’s body-mind continuum. “I get trainees to draw a pie chart based on how much their movement activity focusses on training of skills, creativity, recreation, choreographic skills, movement appreciation and few other outcomes. This chart helps them analyse how successful their session is, in comparison to the purpose of the session”, explained Tripura.
“The coming of age of Storytelling Therapy is like Cinderella being invited to the ball herself,” said Eric Miller in his session ‘Gesture & Dance in Storytelling Therapy.’ The discussion and presentation introduced how stories can be considered in terms of types of tales, motifs or plot elements, dramatic tension, suspense and other formal elements.
The participants were led to explore emotions, situations, and characters of stories and the ways such activities could be parts of therapeutic processes were discussed. With the increasing number of professional storytellers today, a background in psychology could increase the impact of storytelling therapy.
‘Dance Movement Therapy & Psycho-social support in communities’ by Katia Verreault, introduced the concept of psychological first aid. It led the participants through a five-part DMT session and explained ways in which the focus on our bodies can strengthen resilience, thus combining the two. “Resilience can be defined by cultural, spiritual, religious, physiological and social resources. The purpose of community work may vary from body awareness, self-soothing, or capacity building to recognise basic signs for a more focussed therapy, that may be directed upwards in the psycho-social support pyramid spectrum,” shared Katia. “As a dance movement therapist, kinaesthetic empathy is prime. In today’s world, creative therapists could contribute to a growing and urging need for such community support,” she added.
The moderated discussions towards the end of the conference were specific. These discussions felt like the need of the hour, for the purpose of Creative Arts Therapy to percolate down the different levels of users. One of the important facets of all the art therapies is the way a client becomes engaged in creating, in the art form and this aesthetic distance allows a relationship to themselves and their experiences and achieve a balance there.
There were five sessions that were about opening out the circle of therapy to an extended group, thereby making the process more explicitly holistic