In Authentic Movement, participants are encouraged to focus their attention on the present and act out their inner emotions through improvised dance movements while keeping their eyes closed in order to reduce distractions. The goal of this process is to allow people to connect with body and mind and let their inner experiences move them.
This type of therapy involves no choreography. It is the act of truly giving the body a voice. The participants are encouraged to simply surrender to their feelings, experiences, and existence through genuine, expressive movement. The goal of Authentic Movement is to provide a safe space in which participants can increase self-awareness, focus on healing, and improve self-expression.
Authentic Movement is not necessarily comprised of a set of exercises or interventions. It is more of a process that plays out in ways unique to each participant. The process involves a “mover,” usually the person in therapy, and a “witness,” usually the therapist.
The Mover: In an Authentic Movement session, the mover will be provided with a safe, open space in which to move. The mover can warm up, stretch, and take some time to attune to an inner experience. The mover is encouraged to pay attention to thoughts, emotions, and memories, and allow these experiences to move the body in any way that feels right. The mover can choose to do so in silence or with sound. It is through this process the mover can engage with the active imagination, allowing unconscious material to flow outward. Similar to the process of lucid dreaming, the mover is in control of what is happening but is open to being moved by the process. The movement may be allowed to continue until the mover feels ready to stop, but the mover might also be asked to stop after a specified amount of time, usually 20-30 minutes.
The Witness: Throughout the session, the witness, who is often the therapist, offers a supportive, non-judgmental presence in order to give the mover space for self-expression. The witness is typically someone who shows a receptive interest in the experiences of the mover and holds back any projections or assessments about what the mover is illustrating until the processing portion of the session. In addition to tracking the movements of the mover, the witness pays attention to personal inner experiences as well. The witness will usually sit off to the side, keep track of time as needed, and make sure the mover is physically safe throughout the session.
Although each Authentic Movement session is unique and wholly guided by the inspiration of the mover, most Authentic Movement therapists use the same basic session structure.
The basic components of an Authentic Movement Session include:
Moving and sounding: Participants close their eyes and connect with their body's impulses. They may be inspired to move, remain still, make sounds, sing, dance, or use other forms of emotional expression.
Witnessing: Witnessing occurs when the therapist provides participants with full, present, and non-judgmental attention. The witness offers a grounded container in which all of the mover's expression can be held.
Drawing and writing: Many therapists build upon the Authentic Movement expression by incorporating drawing and writing activities into sessions. This allows participants to more fully engage with their experience and reflect on it further. Some activities are done with the eyes closed or with the non-dominant hand.
Sharing: During the last portion of the session, participants are allowed time to share their experiences, drawings, and/or writings with the therapist, partner, or group. Movers are also given the opportunity to receive empathetic feedback about what was witnessed.