Dance/Movement Therapy: The Depth of Our Work

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It’s not a surprise to anyone that graduate school is a lot of hard work.  In fact, I bet that’s the reason why many people return to graduate school in the first place.  Lately, however, I have been getting my butt kicked by graduate school.  When I had a moment to sit down, rest, and think to myself about why this is, I realized its due to the depth of the work that is currently required of me.

In undergrad, I was a busy student, getting involved in all sorts of activities.  On average, I was taking 18 credit hours a semester (majoring in dance, double minoring in psychology and social work), and usually performing in an array of dance or theater shows. Needless to say, I was working my butt off, but not once (okay, maybe a few times) did I feel as tired as I have in the past few months.

Its summertime in Chicago, and I am supposed to be having fun at the neighborhood festivals and the city’s lovely beer gardens.  Instead, I have been working extremely hard and often finding myself exhausted.  As mentioned in a previous post, I have been working on my master’s thesis this summer (currently in the data collection stage), finishing up my final coursework for my degree, and attending classes for the GL-CMA program.  The other day I literally said to myself, “How the hell did I do all that stuff in undergrad?”  After seriously thinking about this and considering what was different about my undergrad and graduate work, I realized it was the depth of the work I am producing.

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No longer am I reading a chapter or writing a three page paper in a week.  I’m still reading, but on a more extensive level.  I am still writing, but this time around, I am writing session reports that interweave content of dance/movement therapy sessions I led with the interventions I used and how this is supported by my theoretical framework.  Whew, sounds like a lot — it is.

I was reminded of the depth of dance/movement therapy on another level this past weekend during my final class for Family Counseling (which, I might add, was the final class for my masters career… notice the excitement in the above picture).  During our last discussion, a member of my cohort said, “We will witness miracles” in reference to our future work as therapists.  This statement hit me on such a profound level and it was a reminder of why I moved to Chicago to attend Columbia in the first place.  I had forgotten about my initial passion about movement and how I thought I could help promote change and growth in individuals through movement.

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It was easy to lose sight of such depth of dance/movement therapy when I was swimming within the depth of our school work.  Not only that, but the depth of my own personal growth throughout the program.  My head was buried in books and writing, my heart was buried in mass of uprooted feelings.  So much that I had forgotten what it is this work is really about.

So new dance/movement therapy students and prospective students be warned.  By choosing to study dance/movement therapy, you are about to jump into a sea of knowledge.  So deep, in fact, that you might lose sight of that initial passion of what you think it is about movement that is so therapeutic.  I certainly did.  As I transition out of full-time grad study, I am remembering my passion for the work, both cognitively and emotionally. I’m remembering why it is I chose to do this work. Or rather, why this work chose me.