Overview of the Conference, Bangalore, 2017



The Creative Movement Therapy Association of India was founded in 2014 as a non-profit organisation to grow and professionalise the field of Creative/Dance Movement Therapy in India. CMTAI organises an Annual International Conference on dance movement therapy that brings together dance/movement therapists, other creative arts therapists, special educators, counsellors, psychotherapists, students and other participants from India and abroad. CMTAI’s 4th Annual International Conference – “Multi-faceted Movement Approaches: Enhancing the Mind-Body Nexus” was organized at Christ University, Bangalore from the 25th– 26th Nov ’17. For this purpose, the entire CMTAI team, around 30 facilitators, 30 Christ University volunteers and around 100 participants came together.

The conference began with a keynote address by Dr. Leonilla Ageira followed by a panel discussion on “Defining Boundaries of Dance Movement Therapy in India.” The members of the panel were Tripura Kashyup, Brinda Jacob Janvrin and Ritu Shree and it was moderated by Anshuma Kshetrapal, all of whom are currently practicing therapists using different expressive art modalities in therapy.

With so much energy and expertise, for the participants to gain as much as possible, there were around 30 sessions (each for two hours) that took place over the two days. From one session to another and one facilitator to another, there was a lot for the conference to offer. There were varied forms of expressive art therapies as well as varied applications of such therapies. All the session were practice based and experiential in nature. Even though there was theory that came with any modality, most of every session was spent actually moving and exploring the creative art forms.

Tripura Kashyap, a movement therapist and co-founder of CMTAI conducted a session on ‘Therapeutic Dance in Education. Dr. Eric Miller, a story telling therapist from Chennai conducted a session on ‘Gesture and Dance in Story Telling Therapy’. Ritu Shree, a dance movement therapist from Children First in Delhi held a session on ‘Dance Movement Therapy for Families of Children with Autism’. Krupa Jhaveri, a visual art therapist and director of Sankalpa, conducted a session on ‘Henna and Healing in Art Therapy’. And these are only a hand full of the sessions that took place on the first day.

The second day of the conference started off with a session on ‘Embodiment in Shadow Theatre’ that was conducted by Evan Hastings who is a drama therapist and director of Shadow Liberation. This session in particular was a crowd favourite. The second day saw an amalgamation of a lot of different forms of therapy and newer areas that are coming to light such as ‘Mindfulness & Therapeutic Presence for Practitioners’ held by Anubha Doshi, an arts based therapist and director of Artsphere. Ms. Nina Cherla, U.K based music therapist conducted a workshop on ‘The importance of skill sharing in Music therapy’, which was an experiential session on practical aspects of music therapy. There was also a session on ‘Role of the Embodied Therapist in Movement Psychotherapy conducted by Preetha Ramasubramanian, who is the director of Kinesthetics. There was also a session conducted by Mike Clarke, who is a UK-based drama and movement therapist titled ‘Engaging with the Shadow through Drama, Movement & Metaphor.’

The two days were filled with experiential learning, sharing of ideas and brainstorming creative therapeutic approaches. The conference was a great platform that brought together therapists and students from across the country and abroad, towards the goal of enhancing the creative therapy movement in India.




Panel Discussion

The panel discussion was on “Defining Boundaries of Dance Movement Therapy in India” moderated by Anshuma Kashyap. Panelists Tripura Kashyap, Brinda Jacob, Ritu Shree brought out pertinent themes about defining Dance movement therapy in the Indian context, highlighting the need for applicable definition which could be incorporated in the rural context as well. The discussion also brought out the imminent necessity for defining ethics by discussing on the probable dangers that could emerge in practice. Through the dialogues the importance of having a supervisor emerged as according to the panelists both client and counselor are on a journey together, exploring the unconscious realm, therefore no matter how experienced the counselor maybe having a supervisor was seen as essential.

Experiential Sessions

Session: ‘Introduction to Dance / Movement Therapy’

By REETU JAIN, Therapeutic Movement Practitioner, Co-Founder, CMTAI, USA / New Delhi

 “Art to the heart” a session on introduction to dance movement therapy, was facilitated by Reetu Jain. The session was experiential in essence, with movement exercises followed by reflection on the same. One of the exercise performed involved participants having to interact with one another using scarfs, which brought out many reflections for the participants. They felt connection amongst them increase in each movement, recognition of the fact that every individual is different and one participant even mentioned “In the movement, when we really connect the following and follower gets blurred”, highlighting the significance of interaction using DMT. Overall participants pointed out self-awareness, mind-body connection, felt “wow” due to ways of moving that were not experienced before. It was also liberating for some who voiced that letting go was easier due to less strict structures which is evident in the reflection by a participant, “the session made me feel like a child again”.


Session: ‘Therapeutic Dance in Education’

By TRIPURA KASHYAP, Movement Therapist/Dance Educator, Cofounder, CMTAI) USA / Bengaluru

 Tripura Kashyap’s (Movement Therapist/Dance Educator, Cofounder, CMTAI, USA/ Bengaluru) session on ‘Therapeutic dance in education’ focused on linking dance activities to academic subjects leading to enhancement of one’s cognitive capacity. Participants experienced a mix of therapeutic movement activities and fun-filled games that can promote physical fitness, self-expression, reduce gender-divides, alongside enhancing body awareness and coordination. When topics from math or science are translated into movement games, children’s intellectual understanding of the topic is reinforced and clarified, memory improves and the subject matter gets concrete in their body-mind continuum. Several activities were conducted on themes such as sharing leadership, understanding creative parts of the body etc. Various exercises were conducted such as ‘follow the leader’, ‘associating adjectives with their name’ etc. There were several objectives behind these activities which was to understand the creative parts of the body, creative use of emotions, personality development of students, creative use of dance in academics (geometry) and to de-structure dance. The participants were extremely cooperative, were open to learn new concepts and involved in the discussions. They were frequently asking questions. The facilitator was also much interactive and patient. When one of the participants asked the facilitator how therapeutic dance can incorporated and tailor-made for differently abled children, the facilitator replied by saying that therapeutic dance can be clubbed with use of music to making it more interesting and interactive.


Session: ‘Drama Therapy: The Hero’s Journey’

By VANITHA CHANDRASEGARAM, Drama Therapist, UK / Malaysia

This session was facilitated by Vanitha Chandrasagaram, Drama therapist. The main objective of the workshop was to become aware of the hero within, to enable participants to reach within to activate their hidden potentials of rising above challenges faced in reaching their goals, personal development, self-awareness, skills development and sharing of ideas, to get inspired to act towards one’s aspirations. The activities such as movements, dance, voice projections, role play, acting and story making was done with an objective of making the participants understand the themes “the Hero and the Saboteur” and “the stages of the hero’s journey”. The session was very interactive and fun, the facilitator was very interactive with the participants, she also participated in most of the activities along with the participants. The participants were very much excited when they were asked to stage a play in groups on the theme of the workshop. They all came up with their concept and staged it enthusiastically. Thus the session was concluded on sharing their experience with the facilitator. The feedback from the participants was that the session was very interesting and fun as it had a lot experiential activities.


Session: ‘Gesture & Dance in Storytelling Therapy’

By DR. ERIC MILLER, Storytelling Therapist, Director, World Storytelling Institute, USA / Chennai

Every session starts with a different energy depending on the facilitator. Dr. Eric Miller, a storytelling therapist started the session in gratitude, thanking all the people who he gives credit for how far he has come today. From the beginning itself, the tone of the session was created. He said, “notice, create and exaggerate signature physical behaviour – that is what we are going to be doing today.” As the saying goes, actions speak louder than words and this was the foundation of the session. After warming up not only our bodies but also our voices, the group was divided into pairs and the session revolved around going through the steps of a storytelling model starting with the very first one – telling your Life Story. As he rightly put it, every story has an outside (what happened and how) and an inside (how you felt). As the steps progressed, participants analyzed, amplified, actively imagined and used metaphors to bring their story to life. What struck a code with most of the participants were his insights on the power of storytelling in therapy as well as his psychological approach to life of clients – it’s not about what happens to you but how you perceive it.


Session: ‘Active Imagination Using Movement’

By BRINDA JACOB JANVRIN, Expressive Arts Therapist / Counsellor, Director, SMART), Bengaluru

Active imagination is a process in Jungian, analytical psychology used to bridge the gap between the conscious and the unconscious aspects of our minds. In the session, participants explored the relationship through dance movement therapy, more specifically, the bodily expressions of their dreams. They were urged to work with expressive arts techniques and authentic movement techniques and explored dream images. The group members got an opportunity to develop their kinesthetic awareness, empathy and mindfulness as they explored the relationship between the creative, the expressive and the psychological. Through this experiential, theoretical and discussion based presentation, the participants got a deeper sense of their own, unique, embodied presence. The participants explored themselves with compassion.


Session: ‘Introduction to Dance/Movement Therapy’

By ANUBHA DOSHI, Arts- based Therapist, Counsellor, Director, ARTSPHERE, Pune

Anubha Doshi (an arts based therapist and director of Artsphere) conducted an energising session on “Introduction to Dance/ Movement Therapy” for Christ University students. The session started on an interactive note where opinions about movement therapy were discussed and knowledge was shared. One of the student’s answer that stood out was “Creative movement therapy is not structured. It is what you feel right.” Indeed the session focused on connecting with your inner-self be it through activities, discussions, visualisation or through movements. The audience was very responsive and actively participated. The therapist’s presence was very encouraging and her ever smiling face maintained a calm and motivating environment. The session ended on a very thoughtful, pensive and mindful experience.


Session: ‘Letting the Body Lead Therapeutic Work’

By MAITRI GOPALAKRISHNA, Drama Therapist & Counselling Psychologist, Bengaluru

We often think of our bodies as separate from us and quite frequently as something problematic, i.e. not aesthetically right or functionally good enough. Many forms of therapy, knowingly or unknowingly, perpetuate the mind-body divide by relegating the body only to the realm of action and behaviour and looking to the mind for the thought, insight, cognition, goal setting and so on. The general assumption is to believe that the mind controls the body and our bodies are merely vehicles for our minds. But what if we were to consider that the body and mind are not separate entities? What if our ability to think, feel, perceive and remember were all physical processes? The session explored the implications of the idea of the body as an emotional, perceptive part of us, in therapeutic work. Through an experiential segment followed by a discussion, participants explored what it meant to actually let the body lead work and let the body emote. The session helped the participants to have heart to heart conversations.


Session: ‘Dance Movement Therapy for Families of Children with Autism’

By RITU SHREE, Dance Movement Therapist / Psychologist, CHILDREN FIRST, USA / New Delhi

Ritu Shree (Dance Movement Therapist / Psychologist, CHILDREN FIRST, USA / New Delhi) on ‘Dance Movement Therapy for Families of Children with Autism’ aimed to understand the experience of attunement-based dance therapy sessions for parents and their children with autism. The facilitator has extensively worked with children with the autism spectrum, ADHD, developmental delay and other childhood concerns. With the high care demands of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), research showed that the primary caregivers (usually the parents) spend much of their time, effort and patience in parenting their children, leaving little room for or no attention to personal well-being and mental health needs. The session discussed how dance/movement therapy may affect communication between parents and their children with autism, marital relationship and sense of well-being in the family. The activities in the session focused basically on how to interact with children with autism, and how to keep these children indulged in various activities and try having conversations with them so that they don’t feel rejected. Participants found it a bit difficult to interact with such children, when the other partner role-played. The facilitator explained that such children generally don’t indulge in conversations and remain in their own world, thus making the other person feel rejected. Such children also feel irritated, agitated, lose eye contact, disobey out of choice when someone tries to converse with them. Their sustained attention tends to reduce and ideation also decreases. She also explained that parents of autistic children also experience a lot of stress, strain of caregiving, social stigma, marital difficulties and financial problems also. One of participants who had experienced working with such children commented that fathers do not contribute much to the sessions, thus making the mothers much more anxious and depressed. The facilitator looked well- versed on the topic and was constantly sharing her experiences in this area. She was constantly expressive and interactive throughout the session. The participants also were very interactive and felt connected with the topic since it included Indian context. One of the eye-opening moment was when the facilitator was sharing some of her experiences and some of the participants replied that jumping, swinging tends to make autistic children less impulsive.


Session ‘Henna & Healing in Art Therapy’

By KRUPA JHAVERI, Visual Art Therapist, Director, SANKALPA – ART JOURNEYS, USA / Auroville

Henna and healing in Art Therapy facilitated by Krupa Jhaveri highlighted the significance of using indigenous material for therapeutic benefits. The session was focused on using henna as medium of therapy. The session brought out elements of connection between henna and stories of past experiences in the participants’ life, unique symbolic therapeutic rudiments were brought out through the activity of translating images/symbols in the mind, on to hand using henna cones. Participants reflected upon their experience with deep connotations such as “the process of finding connections, powerful to give time to an image and translate it into art”, “sense of cone tip touching hand gave sense of mind and body connection, which was out of the world”. The participants found it a powerful medium of expression , related a lot of inferences from their life in the art that was translated onto their palm. Krupa highlighted that the deep unconscious similarity in people across cultures, and everyone has their own toolbox which can be used as a medium for expression, towards therapeutic effects.


Session: ‘Relevance of Posture & Movement in Psychodrama’

By MAGDALENE JEYARATHNAM, Psychodrama Therapist & Counsellor, Director, EAST-WEST COUNSELLING CENTRE, Chennai

This session was facilitated by Magdalene Jeyarathnam, Psychodrama Therapist & counsellor, Director, EAST-WEST COUNSELLING CENTER, Chennai. The main objective of this workshop was to introduce psychodrama and to provide an experiential idea of Psychodrama. Activities like psychometry, grouping according to zodiac sign, grouping according to birth order was done as a warm up session. Then one psychodrama was done by some of the participants, while others were the observers. At the end of the drama the experience of the protagonist was shared. The screening of the drama was very intense and interesting. The activities in this session were mostly discussion and experience sharing by the facilitator. The facilitator was interactive to the participants. Thus the session was concluded by sharing the participant’s feedback with the facilitator.


Session: ‘Building Rituals for Self – Care’

By PALLAVI CHANDER, Drama Therapist, UK/ Bangalore

Lets go on a journey, she said in the beginning. Lets listen and move to our own drumbeat, she continued. Doing things for yourself is not self-care, because sometimes going for a movie or reading a book can give you stress. These are the words of Pallavi Chander, a drama therapist who conducted this session holding a space for helping the helper, a space where she talked about the importance and need for therapists to care for themselves, be it through silence or awareness of one’s own personal needs. The session was a journey. A journey that started with sculpting a partner to represent what one brings to the session today. It continued to participants imagining a beautiful garden. It saw the facilitator using storytelling as a tool for eliciting emotions and as the journey came to a close, participants shared what they were taking back from the session through the creative art form of dance.


Session: ‘The Importance of Skill sharing in Music Therapy’

By NINA CHERLA, Music Therapist, Regional Director, THE MUSIC THERAPY TRUST (TMTT), UK / New Delhi

Nina Cherla, a music therapist from UK brought the rhythm alive in her session on “The importance of skill sharing in Music Therapy”. She introduced the session with talking about how music as a therapy already existed in Indian emotions, something that only added to her fascination with India. She brought together the theoretical and practical aspects of music therapy just as different notes together in a song. The different techniques in music therapy, its usefulness in treating medical conditions and also few case studies were discussed. The activities lifted everyone’s spirits and the session itself left everyone feeling serene and hopeful. Just like the sound of the instruments will resonate in their memory so will the experiences and learning.


Film Screenings

Films on Dance/Movement Therapy: “A Time to Dance: The Life and Work of Norma Canner”


According to Norma Canner, the measure of a society is described by what they can do for the least abled. She was a therapist who used dance as a medium of communication and worked with special needs children, children with autism and allowed people to express themselves through dance. The participants all sat together to watch her life and work on the first day of the conference. What really stayed with the participants was her use of instruments with children to express themselves in ways they couldn’t otherwise. She also believed that one needs to explore, through touch, one’s own and other people’s bodies as it makes one aware of their own body shape. This also raised a lot of questions among the participants about where to draw the line and the discussion closed with understanding your group and bringing it all back to the here and now, something that Norma Canner as a therapist also emphasized.

Films on Drama Therapy: Becoming you – A mental health documentary,

Open Sesame: An introduction to drama and movement therapy,

Dark light: Drama therapy and Eating Disorders


Anshuma Kshetrapal and Mike Clarke, two successful drama and movement therapists led an enlightening session on “Films on Drama therapy”. The session started with a round of ice-breaking, stress buster activities. The aim of the session was to provide an introduction to drama therapy through a series of short films. The highlights of the session were use of drama therapy to treat eating disorders, use of medical treatments with drama therapy for a holistic healing, different institutes of drama therapy and so on. The session concluded with a round of question and answers which cleared the air of doubts and confusions for the participants.


Films on Music Therapy: “Music Therapy for children on the Autistic Spectrum”


Another session on ‘Music Therapy for children on the autism Spectrum’ by Nina Cherla, (Music Therapist, Regional Director, THE MUSIC THERAPY TRUST (TMTT), UK / New Delhi) aimed to give everyone an introduction to Music Therapy as well as some practical guidance on how to use music therapeutically, both in India and internationally. In India, the arts therapy field is still very young, and access to it may not be available everywhere, therefore, skill – sharing becomes an important part of the work of a music therapist. The interactive discussion covered the benefits of music therapy skill sharing and explored how music can be utilised in various professional fields. The session discussed on how ASD children enjoy music and how music can be used to increase their concentration and reduce hyperactivity. It explained how such children learn to coordinate various rhythms of various pitches. The session also conveyed how strong healthy bonds can be established between the parent and the child. Psycho-educating the family members about music therapy and its effectiveness can help in dealing with such children. The participants were enlightened to watch how effective music therapy can be. The movie also suggested how group sessions are found to be effective for children with ASD, brain injuries (aphasia), dementia and other mental health problems. The facilitator explained at the end of the session how music therapy can be customised according to the needs of the children and how supervision and structure in the therapy must be an important consideration. She also explained that the facilitator must be well-verse with varied forms of musical instruments and musical variations in order to make the therapy effective. The facilitator discussed that music teachers in schools can be trained to become a music therapist and what are the various kinds of music therapy involving cultural components include indie music therapy, clinical music therapy or western music therapy.



Experiential Sessions


Session: ‘Embodiment in Shadow Theatre’

By EVAN HASTINGS, Drama Therapist, Counseling Psychologist, Director, SHADOW LIBERATION, USA / Bengaluru

This session was facilitated by Evan Hasting, Drama therapist, Director, Shadow liberation. The shadow theatre integrated visual arts, physical theatre, music and storytelling. This workshop blended drama therapy and theatre oppressed with shadow techniques including: overhead projector paper puppetry, body as puppet, moving light sources and basic optical illusions in shadow theatre. The activities were passing the clap, shake out and name with movement. Then the facilitator explained about various techniques in shadow theatre. Then the participants were asked to do a shadow play in their groups. The participants were excited when they did the broken puppet activity and a pair activity of shadow play and the group activity of the shadow play. The complete session was very interesting and enthusiastic. There were full attention and enthusiastic participation of the participants throughout the session. In this session the participants learnt the projective techniques for therapeutic play in the shadows and also became familiar with the process of balancing aesthetic distance in improvised shadow play. The session was concluded with sharing of experience and sharing ones feeling in the session.

Session: ‘The Importance of Skill sharing in Music Therapy’

By NINA CHERLA, Music Therapist, Regional Director, THE MUSIC THERAPY TRUST (TMTT), UK / New Delhi

The importance of Skill sharing in Music Therapy session facilitated by Nina Cherla , through engagement of participants highlighted the essence of music therapy in building bonds, enhancing communication, connectedness and aiding therapeutic effects. Participants were thoroughly engaged throughout the activities and reflected benefits of expressing through music, they enjoyed the process, felt a team spirit, and even found this a medium of articulating emotions. Nina emphasised upon the importance of meeting the client where they are , during therapy. She also focused on the benefits of music as a means of therapy due to its beneficial effects of improving memory, enhancing motor skills, and neurological changes such as release of endorphins. It was a musical session with participants reportedly feeling relieved post the session due to expression of underlying emotions through role plays using instruments.


Session: ‘Kestenberg Movement Profile (KMP): Exploration of Tension Flow Rhythms’

By TARANA KHATRI, Dance Movement Psychotherapist, Director, Co-Founder Synchrony, UK / Chennai.

Judith Kestenberg along with her team developed an alternative form of movement analysis that observed human movement patterns within the context of our development. A large part of her work has its roots in the Psychoanalytic approach and the work of Sigmund Freud and Anna Freud. KMP is centred upon intrinsic meaning of movement patterns by linking them to human developmental processes and psychological experiences. The session examined how her study of Movement Analysis helped the participant to understand the Movement dynamics and structure within each individual. The session also explored Tension flow Rhythm and its attributes according to the Kestenberg Movement Profile which was developed by her long back. The participants underwent certain Tension flow rhythms. She noticed how they rise in response to primary biological needs and how Tension flow attributes expressed various emotions as well as the core temperament of an individual. The session facilitated understanding of KMP’s basic theoretical concepts and explored these particular movement patterns enabling a greater understanding of participants own movement repertoire.


Session: ‘What’s in a role: Stories & Drama Therapy’

By ANSHUMA KSHETRAPAL, Drama & Movement Therapist, Director, COLOR OF GREY CELLS, UK / Delhi / Bengaluru

Metaphors, stories, characters and roles, all represent what the session was. Anshuma Kshetrapal, a drama and movement therapist began the session by lighting a candle, the light representing a symbol of what one needs today and followed that by opening up a discussion of what participants need from the group today. The session saw the participants exploring the space, representing feeling sculptures, creating a story, working in pairs, creating and playing characters and also finding a way to say goodbye to those characters. It was her presence and experience that kept participants engaged. She shared some crucial elements of drama therapy such as the importance of not clapping because clapping has a performance element associated to it and shaking and waving hands in the air instead in appreciation. She demonstrated the use of metaphors and ended the session by the group figuratively rolling back in the carpet they have rolled out in the beginning of the session.

“Things that you can’t control in your life, you create in a role” – Anshuma Kshetrapal

Session: ‘Art Psychotherapy & Family Constellation Work’

By CHARITRA BALLAL, Psychotherapist / Visual Art Therapy Practitioner, Founder-Director, Parija, UK / Bengaluru

The next session on ‘Art Psychotherapy & Family Constellation Work’ By Charitra Ballal, (Psychotherapist / Visual Art Therapy Practitioner, Founder-Director, Parija, UK / Bengaluru) introduced Family Constellations work, its history and ideology alongside Art Psychotherapy and integration of the two modalities. Participants experienced a mix of therapeutic art play and gain insights and exposure to Family/Systemic Constellation as a way of working. She also discussed the various creative ways of integrating and inter-linking Art Psychotherapy with other practices, with individuals and groups by presenting her own work with children on the autism spectrum and her experience of working with Art-Therapy in the area of sexuality. Participants felt satisfied to share about their families. They also were not hesitant to share and were very much comfortable with the topic and felt pleased to work on family constellations. They found the session interactive, insightful and interesting. They also shared that they had so much to share, which couldn’t assimilate in a sheet of paper. In the end, participants were requested to close their eyes and recollect and reflect what happened in the session. Participants also explained that because of this session, they got an insight into what they were not aware of. Summarising the entire session, both the participants and the facilitator were engaged and collaborative throughout the session.


Session: ‘Introduction to Drama Therapy’

By PALLAVI CHANDER, Drama Therapist, UK/ Bangalore

Pallavi Chander a drama therapist started Day 2 by facilitating an innovative session for Christ University students on “Introduction to drama therapy”. The heart and soul of the session was building and maintain rhythm be it with yourself, your partner or your group. A lot of activities centred on the same. Another aspect brought out during the activities was the importance of balancing the given space to enhance the experience and make the drama therapy as efficient as possible. One such activity that the students thoroughly enjoyed was to carry a piece of stick using only the index finger along with your partner. You were allowed to experiment with the moves and speed depending on your comfort level. Thus the session came to an end with people feeling quite light-hearted and more in tune with their inner self and thoughts.


Session: ‘Role of the Embodied Therapist in Movement Psychotherapy’

By PREETHA RAMASUBRAMANIAN, Dance Movement Psychotherapist, Director, KINESTHETICS, UK / Chennai

Scheflen’s (1964) research revealed that at the moment of deep empathy, all the therapists (irrespective of their psychological approaches) shifted their posture to mirror their clients’ literally taking a shared ‘position.’

The session started with the facilitator, Preetha Ramasubramanian taking us through a body scan with the purpose of not only being present and aware of one’s body but also understanding the wealth of knowledge that the body holds. The session was then an interactive discussion on the foci of embodiment such as rhythmic synchrony, kinesthetic awareness, kinesthetic empathy, somatic resonance and somatic counter-transference. The facilitator combined this with real life counseling cases that kept the participants engaged. She believes that is very important to mirror the client so that they feel connected. Embodiment being a very heavy concept, the session came to a close with the participants shaking off anything heavy in the session that they want closure from or want to leave behind. Embodiment is not to fulfil the therapist’s need but understand the perception of the client’s need.


Session: ‘The Puzzle of Progress in Expressive Arts Therapies’

By AVANTIKA MALHAUTRA, Expressive Arts Therapist / Psychologist, Director, SOUL CANVAS, Pune

This session was facilitated by Avantika Malhautra, Expressive arts therapist/psychologist, Director, Soul Canvas, Pune. The objective of the workshop was to give an intentional view of arts (music, art and movement). The expressive art therapy is a form of arts mostly from a personnel perspective and how it can be therapeutic. The workshop was divided into two sessions as experiential and case study. The experiential session, there was activity where participants were told walk around, and visualise various situations given by the facilitator and internalise the feeling in them. Then the participants were asked to depict their feeling in arts and then they were divided into groups and were asked to sculpt their drawing on their group members. Then the participants discussed their experience with the facilitator. Lastly the facilitator summarised the activity. The second session was case presentation, which was a presentation by the facilitator, she presented the different kinds of art by her client, and she also shared her personnel experience with her clients during the therapy process. The participants were very excited during the experiential session. Thus the session was concluded with sharing of feedback with the facilitator.


Session: ‘Mindfulness & Therapeutic Presence for Practitioners’

By ANUBHA DOSHI, Arts-based Therapist, Counsellor, Director, ARTSPHERE, Pune

Mindfulness and Therapeutic Presence for practitioners facilitated by Anubha Doshi was a session on combination of mindfulness and dance movement therapy. The session not only showcased the benefits of mindfulness for clients but also focused on its role in self-care for practitioners. Participants reflected feeling “zen minded”, “experiencing authentic presence”, clear-headed, and gave them a space to put concerns aside. Anubha focused on the importance of self care for therapists as in the process of being completely present for the client, it can vicariously affect them negatively which can in turn be detrimental for their session. Hence, the session focused on mindfulness as a means to cleanse the vicarious effects during a session to enhance the authentic presence of a counselor.


Session: ‘Engaging with the Shadow self through Drama, Movement & Metaphor’

By MIKE CLARKE, Drama & Movement Therapist, UK

As practitioners working with children and young people, we sometimes find ourselves occupied with those who are seen as difficult or troublesome; either in the classroom or at home. The expressive arts therapies offered a unique space in which ‘dangerous’ emotions, such as jealousy, anger, resentment and greed, were articulated and explored in a safe, open environment. The safe environment which was created provided therapeutic stage for children and young people . they expressed the thoughts and desires which they normally   wouldn’t, this enhanced their psychological well-being and development. This way, the participants were allowed for a full integration of the mind-body link to. They acknowledged how the body holds the whole spectrum of human experience. As therapists and facilitators, exploration of the shadow requires self-understanding, careful boundaries and sensitive planning. In this theoretical and experiential workshop, participants tried to embody with their souls.


Session: ‘Dance Movement Therapy & Psycho-social Support in Communities’

By KATIA VERREAULT, Dance Therapist, Director, A MOVING WORLD FOUNDATION, The Netherlands / Nepal

The Session-‘Dance Movement Therapy & Psycho-social Support in Communities’ by Katia Verreault, (Dance Therapist, Director, A MOVING WORLD FOUNDATION, The Netherlands / Nepal) introduced the concept of psychological first aid, and lead participants through the experience of a 5-part DMT session and ways in which the focus on our bodies can strengthen resilience, thus combining the two. It explained how DMT and other Creative therapies can play an important role in offering psycho-social support to vulnerable populations, promoting resilience (resource-building), mental health and well-being. Participants were introduced to fundamental DMT concepts and techniques through simple movement based exercises. The session was quite innovative and interesting, since the activities involved building individual houses, using movement to move to each other’s houses, relaxation exercises, drawing body genogram to sense areas in the body where participants experienced tension. The facilitator was interactive, expressive and active throughout the session. She also explained the importance of psycho-social support, specialised care in managing mental health issues and overall wellbeing. Participants could relate to the topic since there was a marginalised participants in the group. Participants felt the session interesting, creative and asked various questions like what to do if the community is resistant, to which the facilitator replied the importance of consent and community’s willingness to participate. In the end, participants were allowed to relax using a slow, soothing song.

Session: ‘Introduction to Visual Art Therapy’

By CHARITRA BALLAL, Psychotherapist/ Visual Art Therapy Practitioner, UK/ Bangalore

Charitra Ballal, a psychotherapist and visual art therapist facilitated a session on “Introduction to visual art therapy” for the students. The session started on an informative note with discussions about art therapy- its various forms, the origin, examples and background. There was a display of different everyday materials that can be used for therapeutic purposes. The whole session as a whole involved a lot of self-reflection. The activities conducted provided an outlet to the participants in the form of art. The major theme that was discussed in the course of the session was Sexuality. Individuals were asked to express their thoughts and emotions through art in whatever way they felt was best suited for them. There was room for personal interpretations, self-expression, anonymity and creativity. By the end of session people felt confident about the power and reach of art as a form of therapy.


Informal Discussions

Role of Touch/physical contact in Dance Movement Therapy (DMT)


The final session on ‘Role of Touch/ Physical contact in DMT’ by Katia Verreault, (Dance Therapist, Director, A MOVING WORLD FOUNDATION, The Netherlands / Nepal) was an informal discussion in which the importance of physical contact was stressed upon. The facilitator gave examples from movies like Dear Zindagi, in which the actor showed transference, but handled it quite well. The session was quite interactive since the facilitator was constantly asking what else the actor could do in the movie apart from what he did. She also explained the various kinds of physical contacts, i.e. reassurance, instructional and task-oriented touch. She also told about the various kinds of unaccepted touch. She explained how touch is the first sense which develops in the human body and how deprivation of touch can lead to attachment issues. Participants also were interactive and asked various questions such as how to deal with a situation if client misuses touch. She told that its essential for therapists to communicate to the client that it’s not good and in such situations, providing them with other objects like teddy bear, shaving foam can help in such situations. The session concluded with a relaxation and reflection discussion.

What is Therapy and what is Therapeutic?


This discussion group consisted of participants with differing degrees of experiences and a lot to share. The discussion started with a focus on identifying what “therapy” and “therapeutic are and the difference between them. The participants saw therapy as very intentional in nature with a plan and goals and process. Therapeutic on the other hand was discussed as not always being planned – it can be a by-product of anything that makes one happy such as cooking, music, art or anything other aspect. Both are important and essential but it is equally important to be aware of the difference and understand one’s own personal capacity to offer services that they call therapy.

Other associated aspects were also discussed such as lack of awareness, the question of licensure, role and responsibility of educational institutions, professionalism and personal ethical codes. Relating the topic to creative movement therapy, the participants shared how art, music, dance, storytelling, etc. by their very nature are therapeutic but the intentionally, training, awareness and process make it a therapy. There is definitely a lot of scope for improving the current understanding and awareness of what therapy is and who can offer it, but the discussion concluded with a participant quoting Mother Teresa, “we ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.”

Confidentiality/ Consent in Arts Therapy


The things that were discussed in this session were confidentiality and consent in art therapy.  It is important for people living in our services, families and other relevant parties, to know that the confidentiality of those we support is respected, their personal information protected and information shared only on a need-to-know basis, for example to facilitate the understanding of and/or best decision making in respect of care, treatment and support. Confidential information is shared only with consent or where we have a legal duty to make a disclosure or where we believe it is necessary in order to prevent serious harm to any person. The ethics and the rules to be followed with groups and individuals were discussed. Brief discussion about the nature of the therapy, confidentiality levels and consent forms was given. Safe space between the therapist and the client was maintained. Interaction with the participants and their doubts were cleared by the facilitator. This session gave a detailed knowledge to the participants about confidentiality, ethics and consent in art therapist. The session was concluded on the basis that nothing is termed as right or wrong, the things which matters is the comfortable feeling of the client.

Collaboration Between Expressive Arts Therapies


Avantika Malhautra, an expressive art therapist moderated an informal discussion on “Collaboration between expressive art thoughts”. During this session a lot of practitioners of different forms of creative therapies were present which led to discussions on how these various therapies can be combined to optimize healing. Questions such as how can emotions be contained and how these different therapies can flow from one into another were raised and talked about. One statement that brought the whole session together was “In any creative therapy, one form is the hero while all other forms are supportive characters”. In reality too, no one form can be used autonomously, it is only with the support of other forms can it prove to be most helpful.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s