To hear or not to hear? -Aarohi Doshi Shah

Aarohi Doshi Shah

Founder- Director at Metaphor


Dance Movement Therapy Facilitator

The photos are true copy with the consent of the client

Hearing, according to me, is the act of recognising sounds and perceiving them through the ears, while listening is a skill that needs conscious awareness, understanding and analysis of what we hear.

Listening is an important tool that we all must inculcate in us to be able to make sense of what the person is actually trying to say. It requires training and active, conscious efforts to understand the depth of the conversation. But what happens when we stop listening? Or, for that matter, what happens when we are unable to hear?

Blindness separates people from things; deafness separates people from people.  -Helen Keller

This quote deeply resonates with my client who was at the crux of being audio impaired. She was nearly in her late twenties when she was told that she could only hear 50% and gradually that percentage will reduce. ‘There will be a complete loss of hearing’, she was told. She was young, newly married and had a whole new future waiting for her. Her dreams, her aspirations, her hard work in life all came crashing down. She realised that nothing could be taken for granted and something as easy as hearing manifested as the biggest lack in her life. She was and still is an extremely calm and composed woman, strong willed and very vivacious with energy; a person with whom optimism is synonyms. She had a will to fight and to make a difference, not only in her life but also in the life of the significant others around her. She did take many trips to the ENT specialist, got herself a hearing aid and spent huge amounts of money only to be able to hear.

She believed in “ There is ability in every disability” and decided to take some dance therapy sessions to work around the ‘feeling of being unable to hear’. She was convinced that expressive arts therapies work since her daughter was also taking up occupational therapy and drum therapy. She chose to move. She decided to take it up as a challenge at the age of 50 years a role model for her own self. She wanted to make the most of the life she had and enjoy it by doing things that she liked.

She had her inhibitions of being able to move but wanted to explore it. She finally wanted to listen through her body!

During her sessions with me, she mentioned of her mother facing the same problem that she did; audio impairment. While her sister was a completely normal child, my client was the one who genetically caught the impairment. A similar incident happened with her when she realised that her elder daughter was a completely ‘normal’ child while the younger one ended up being a gifted child with cerebral palsy. She mentioned about her struggles during the course of our therapy and also about how she managed and came out as a winner.

The Initial Phase:

The initial sessions were around exploring movement and being comfortable around movement through the body. She was able to build her movement little by little and was being less hesitant while moving. She mentioned about how she had neglected her body but was into self work through different modalities.

We explored movement by movement building activities, introduction to DMT through name activity and some facts about oneself. We also listed down some beautiful moments of her life that have made her what she is today. Her initial sessions left her with a positive feeling about her body and spoke about how she needed to be more compassionate with herself.

We explored empathy and compassion through touching each body part and verbalising the process. This particular activity left her feeling many things at once. She voiced about feeling claustrophobic, cited fear of people, was missing her mother, found herself feeling burdened when someone said she was inspirational, was bothered about being fat and had a negative body image, felt the need of slowing down but at the same time felt relaxed and felt as if cleansing had been done. While she verbalised all this, she felt a tingling sensation at the back of her head which vanished as soon as she finished verbalising.

The Middle Phase:

The next few sessions we explored body image and mindfulness and we explored through different speed and levels with music and body and also affirmations for the body, “ I love and approve of myself, I thank God for a lovely body, I love you and I will take care of you” to each body part that you have a problem with.

While we did the mindfulness activity, she was given a clothes hanging clip and that made her feel constricted, yet free, felt rough and smooth which resonated with her present life. We explored by walking in a maze with different directions, going forward and backwards and also explore through box and free movement to go deeper into the feeling of being constricted. We also did creative visualisation about a scenery and expressed the feeling through art. This activity brought out many fears of falling down, of being trapped in roles, constriction and restriction, she cited issues with her sister exerting power on her and being very possessive about her, cited some anxiety and felt her tinitus and old rashes coming back. The positive sides to the activity were that she felt relaxed, grounded, felt that the session was very powerful because her real issues came up.

We mutually decided to work on the birthing process the next session since she was deeper into observed behaviour from her mother. This activity clearly went on for long while she was processing it and once she was done, she did not feel the need to verbalise it as much. She just said, “ Now I understand me and my mother more”. I gave her a sheet of paper and she expressed beautifully what she had gone through the birthing process and just mentioned how this activity was the shift she was looking for.

Letting the Guard Down:

The next few sessions we explored movement in the body through mirroring techniques, role play, timeline activity, dumb sherards, and using sounds with each activity. While she enjoyed mirroring and felt that her body was opening up, she found it difficult to enact the situations given to her at first. She, later, managed to get comfortable and held onto the need to let go and be free.

Role play was an activity she had never done before but left her feeling empowered, while the timeline activity gave her the awareness of changing her routine to suit her needs. While she used sounds, she felt a lack of creativity at first since movement therapy was not her forte. She warmed up to the idea of sounds and felt energised after using it. During this particular session, she expressed the fear of being isolated due to lack of hearing and the fear of being unheard.

Her body had started experiencing emotions and her body did the talking. Her body was releasing pent-up emotions and she was unwell for a week. While she was completely aware of the cleansing process and her health, she still felt the need to talk more. We spoke in-depth about her mother and her sister, she was choked with feelings and complained of shoulder and back pain. She realised that she was uncomfortable with receiving attention and love on one side but felt the need for support from her husband and her family on the other. She mentioned about how she was the “stronger” one and felt responsible for every thing. She was anxious about her dental appointment as she always felt restless and choked when the doctor asked her to keep her mouth open. On the positive side, she mentioned how these sessions were helping her to be more calmer and more mindful of her body and her needs.

During a one-year long intervention with this well-aware, accepting and fulfilling client, we went through a series of changes and movements in-depth. We went through body image, separation anxiety, being one of the prestigious books at the human library, personal boundaries, her difficulty with hearing, changes in her responsibilities and the loneliness after her daughter moving away. We sailed through thick and thin during these sessions and while we terminated the sessions, she openly accepted and voiced how confident, mindful and aware she was about herself and her deepest feelings. She saw a change in the way she conducted herself, found herself dancing to the society shows like Ganpati, found her to be well equipped with life challenges and be more calm about the things around her. She decided to love herself more and give herself more time along with being well aware of the surroundings around her. She became a woman of substance back again and decided to lead a quality life; both mentally and physically.

Currently, she being an avid reader, and an inspiration to many, has kept herself upbeat with the current books and is a part of many such support groups to educate them regarding her journey with impairment and cerebral palsy.

She is the woman who cannot hear through her ears but listens through the body!


Aarohi Doshi Shah, Founder-Director at Metaphor is a Clinical Psychologist and a certified Dance Movement Facilitator. She is a graduate in Psychology from Fergusson College, Pune and also hold a Post Graduate Dipmoa in Counseling Psychology from the same college. She has also completed her Masters in Clinical Psychology from MS University, Vadodara and is a certified Kathak dancer. She is a choreographer and has taught dance for more than 12 years. She is passionate about dance and psychology equally and chose a field where she could amalgamate her love for the two fields. She has undertaken the training for Dance Therapy under the supreme guidance of Tripura Kashyap from Bangalore. She has worked under Artsphere for a while before taking this step to start her new healing arena. She has undertaken several workshops and has also taken individual sessions. She has won many accolades in dance and is an avid observer that helps her analyse people and things with a different perspective. She is a Sub-Editor on the two Indian Dance Therapy Magazines and has designed it. She is currently conducting corporate workshops and is involved in individual and group therapy sessions.


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