Authentic Movement is a powerful therapeutic practice to help you tune into your feelings and express them through your body. Developed in the 1950s by dance therapist Mary Starks Whitehouse, in an authentic movement session, the client becomes ‘The Mover’, and the therapist is ‘The Witness.’
What does Authentic Movement involve?
Authentic Movement can take place anywhere, but it’s best if it is in a space that is private, quiet and uninterrupted. At the beginning of the session, The Mover takes a few moments to pay attention to their thoughts, feelings and experiences. From here, they close their eyes, and connect with their body’s impulses: Perhaps they move, remain still, repeat gestures, make facial expressions, lie down, curl up in a chair or make sound.
Through this process The Mover has the experience of ‘being moved’ from within, rather than following choreography or moving how they think they should be moving. It allows The Mover to connect with impulses, feelings and memories that are difficult to put into words. This can happen with traumatic memories, or events that happened before the client learned to talk. Somatic therapies, like Authentic Movement, argue that traumatic experiences are held within the body as an implicit memory, and that these memories can be accessed, made explicit and processed through expressive movement.
As The Witness, the therapist sits quietly watching The Mover, ensuring that the space is safe for them, keeping track of time and witnessing everything they are expressing through their movement. At the agreed upon time (usually around 20 minutes), The Witness draws the practice to a close, and helps to bring The Mover back from their internal exploration into the room with the therapist.
The Witness now helps The Mover process through talking, drawing and reflection. The Witness does not judge or interpret the Mover’s experience. The Witness reflects what they saw, shares the emotions it evokes within them and guides The Mover to make sense of their Authentic Movement. As The Mover/client is able to identify patterns and meanings in their movement, The Witness/therapist helps them apply this knowledge to affect change in their life.
Benefits of Authentic Movement
This process can be deeply therapeutic for shifting trauma and other experiences held in the body. The other therapeutic benefits of Authentic Movement are:
- Unblocking and invigorating creativity
- Calming the Central Nervous System
- Deeper connection with one’s body, mind and spirit
- Sense of wholeness and integration (of different parts of oneself)
- Feeling understood and seen in a non-judgmental way
Give Authentic Movement a try
You can book a session with a Registered Psychotherapist trained in Authentic Movement, Cordelia Huxtable, and see how it feels for you. Cordelia has been practicing Authentic Movement since 2016 and has witnessed the profound changes it has for clients. It is best if these sessions are in-person, but the process can work if the client has a private space to move at home. Click here to book a session with Cordelia.