|Posted by Alzheimer's Caregiver Support on March 6, 2018 at 10:40 AM|
"Moved by M"
By Erica Hornthal, CEO of Chicago Dance Therapy
From the moment I met M, I could see a vibrant, active, motivated man. His personality came across in the way he walked, his posture, and how he confidently and gently carried himself. It is my goal in our sessions to capture these moments and witness this person.
I am a dance/movement therapist. One might assume that I am the one doing the moving and teaching how to move. But I am merely the mirror that reflects the movements I see in the person I am with. I am being moved physically, spiritually, emotionally. I am moved by M.
I greet M in his living room and quickly set up my wireless Bluetooth speaker and begin playing Michael Buble. He smiles and I can tell he recognizes the song by how his feet quickly find the rhythm and his hands keep the beat. I join him in his movement and we immediately make eye contact, smiling and laughing. No words have been uttered, only body language to express how we feel in the moment. M reaches out to me and we begin dancing together, shifting weight, reacting to each others’ steps, and sharing the space. M indulges in the freedom to lead me across the living room floor. The ability to take charge allows M to feel independent and in control. Then he lets go of my hand and moves independently around the room. By now we have time traveled back to the 60’s and are on a Surfin’ Safari with the Beach Boys. When I see that there is a need to slow down, we sit or quietly stand and breathe together. I suggest relaxing poses that are meant to stimulate the mind body connection. M stretches and bends in ways that he connects to and that are familiar.
We leave time at the end to talk. M typically has difficulty finding the words to communicate. I ask him, “Why do you like dancing?” He looks at me and clearly says, “It feels good.”
Erica Hornthal is a licensed professional clinical counselor and board certified dance/movement therapist. She received her MA in Dance/Movement Therapy and Counseling from Columbia College Chicago and her BS in psychology from the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana.
Erica is the founder and president of Chicago Dance Therapy, Inc., a psychotherapy practice founded in 2011. As a psycotherapist in private practice, Erica specializes in working with adults and older adults. She has worked with and presented on individuals affected by movment and cognitive disorders.