A Dance/Movement Psychotherapy for Children with Autism, Pervasive Developmental Disorder, and Asperger Syndrome
WHAT IS DANCE/MOVEMENT PSYCHOTHERAPY?
Dance/movement psychotherapy is a New York State licensed form of treatment recognized as a practice within Creative Arts Therapy (LCAT). Dance/movement psychotherapy is an experiential form of psychotherapy that utilizes non verbal movement observation, dance, music, play, and multi-sensory techniques for the assessment, intervention and educational programming for children and their families. Because this method makes use of the body, and nonverbal experience as key elements of intervention, this form of treatment supports growth and integration of motoric, perceptual-motor, verbal processing skills, cognition and communication, along with social emotional development. The strong emphasis on the nonverbal analysis of the parent-child relationship enables the therapist to also assess the role the attachment relationship plays in the emotional and social aspects of the child's development.
DESCRIPTION OF THE WAYS OF SEEING PROGRAM FOR CHILDREN AND TEENS ON THE SPECTRUM
The Ways of Seeing program is child-centered providing each child/teen with the opportunity to share thoughts and feelings in an atmosphere that is both fun and considerate of individual needs, communication styles and sensory sensitivities. The goal of Ways of Seeing is to support each child/teen to feel seen, understood and listened to through creative explorations. Using dance/movement, music, play and body awareness activities as the key communicative tools, children/teens are able to express themselves while simultaneously gaining skills in communication, self–regulation and social interaction. The music, dance and art-related activities support peer social relationships as the ASD children/teens learn about each other by sharing through creative self-expression. These activities support the development of intersubjectivity, by helping children/teens learn to think about and read the nonverbal expressions, thoughts and feelings of their peers by following and responding to their actions, dance moves, and musical dialogues. At the core of the program is the belief that all nonverbal actions have the potential to be communications.
WAYS OF SEEING PROGRAMS AVAILABLE
Both individual psychotherapeutic and group sessions are available. There are four types of programs:
Wellness creative dance/movement classes for typically developing children.
Integrated wellness creative dance/movement classes for typical children
with children with special needs.
Dyadic and small group multisensory dance/movement-based social skills groups for children
with special concerns.
Individual dance/movement psychotherapy sessions – which may also include parents
and other family members.
You can read more about Dr. Tortora's work with children along the Autism Spectrum in her book The Dancing Dialogue: Using the Communicative Power of Movement with Young Children (2011) Paul H. Brookes Publishers and in Malcolm Gladwell's book What the Dog Saw: and other adventures (2009).