Movement Matters: Integrating the Body in Therapy

  Saturday April 7, 2018           8:30 AM – 5:00 PM
Columbia College Chicago            
623 S Wabash Avenue, Chicago, IL 60605

This conference marks the advent of a new era of Dance/Movement Therapy in the field of helping professions in Illinois. This very  first IL ADTA conference is a platform to share information, knowledge, and research supporting the use of the body and movement  and their nuanced manifestations in therapy, clinical work, and/or self-exploration. We are honored to share this opportunity with all mental health professionals, creative arts therapists, artists, creative educators, other body/somatic practitioners, and dance/movement therapists. Seven CEs will be provided for LCPC, LPC, LCSW, LSW, LMFT, and psychologists.

Early Bird Rate (by 2/28/2018): Student/ $50.00   Professional/ $100.00

Regular Rate (by 4/6/2018): Student/ $100.00   Professional/ $150.00

At the Door (on 4/7/2018): $175.00



Conference Agenda

8:30 ​- ​9:00 AM ​    Sign ​In 
9:00 ​- ​9:20 AM ​   
Welcome ​& ​Orientation
9:30 ​- ​12:30 PM ​ 
Morning ​Seminars 
12:30 ​- ​1:30 PM   ​
Lunch ​& ​Film ​Screening ​of ​DMT ​by ​Ashley ​Fargnoli 
1:30 ​- ​2:20 PM ​   
Keynote ​Speaker: ​David ​Alan ​Harris
2:30 ​- ​4:30 PM ​   
Afternoon ​Seminars ​
4:00 ​- ​5:00 PM ​   
Movement Integration


Labour is blossoming or dancing where
The body is not bruised to pleasure soul,
Nor beauty born out of its own despair,
Nor blear-eyed wisdom out of midnight oil.
O chestnut tree, great rooted blossomer,
Are you the leaf, the blossom or the bole?
O body swayed to music, O brightening glance,
How can we know the dancer from the dance?           

  (W. B. Yeats, “Among School Children”, lines 57-64)


Morning seminars (9:30 – 12:30 PM)

Inner and Outer Connections: Dance/Movement Therapy and Contact Improvisation

Julie Brannen, MA, LPC, R-DMT, GLCMA

Eve Chalom, R-DMT, RYT

This workshop is designed to teach the application of Contact Improvisation (CI) principles to working therapeutically and building relationships through experiences with movement and touch. Layers of communication that pass through touch and interpersonal posturing create awareness and possibilities within relationships. Through different experiential stages we will explore certain tools and functions of CI from a gestalt perspective, i.e. how the individual connects to themselves, others, and the world. In addition, we  will explore how roles influence our ways of making contact with others and bringing past experiences into the present. The nervous system patterns and codes past body memories, images, and mental snapshots. These images come to clarity when touch is perceived as communicative gesture in the present moment. The CI dance form provides structure and language to explore and define these experiences. CI vocabulary describes body part orientation (what), quality of touch and shared weight (how), and direction of  movement and physical momentum (where). This information gives insight into the intention (why) of the therapeutic relationship, giving the therapist and client access to deeper levels of interacting and understanding. It opens both parties up to non-verbal communication, felt senses of transference, and facilitates different aspects of the therapeutic relationship. We will also discover the use of touch for care of self in supportive structures.

Shifting the Dynamics of Violence within Bodies

Sara Heidbreder, MA, R-DMT, GL-CMA, LPC

Chih-Hsien Lin, MA, R-DMT, MPA, LPC

This workshop is a combination of didactic lecture and discussion on violence and its impact using body-based experiential. The presenters will lecture and facilitate the discussion about participants’ understandings on violence in general, including settings (i.e., with in intimate relationship, family, and/or society as a whole) and means (i.e., physical, emotional, societal, etc.) Participants will be guided through creating postures or movements that represent different roles in violent environment, such as target/victim, initiator  or violence/violation, and bystanders. The presenters may ask larger groups to be a witness of how these roles interact and affect each other as representation of the society as a whole. Body-based experiential will be driven by participants’ feelings, ideas, and responses. The presenters welcome participants to explore and discuss issues that arise throughout the process. This workshop does not require previous movement experience, skills, or dance/movement therapy knowledge. This workshop is a learning process open for all levels of participants.

Authentic Movement: Tracking SMIFT, Listening to Impulses, and Recognizing Relationship

Kim Rothwell, BC-DMT, LCPC, CADC, GL-CMA

Jeannine Salemi, BC-DMT, LCPC

Authentic Movement is the simple practice of moving with eyes closed in the presence of a witness. The mover tracks the somatic and sensory phenomena of the moment, allowing for the impulses residing within the wisdom of the body to unfold in movement, sound, and breath. Meanwhile, a nonjudgmental witness adopts a curious, open, accepting and compassionate attitude towards him/her own embodied experience, while intentionally holding the mover in her attention. Through the embodied practice, we gain practical insights into embodiment, somatic countertransference, projection, and presence. An Authentic Movement session is divided into three sections: movement, transition, and processing. The movement section allows for a responsive and dynamic mindfulness practice in which the mover allows the impulses of the body to guide movement, while tracking his/her own process. After movement and during transition, the mover allows for integration of the experience, resting, recuperating or reflecting upon the movement, identifying sensation, movement, images, feelings and/or thoughts. Finally, the mover speaks from the present moment of her felt experience of moving, through words, sounds or movement, allowing language to emerge from the body’s knowing. Meanwhile,  through the structure of the space and the verbal and nonverbal presence of the witness, the mover experiences a layer of relationship present in the process. The mover tracks his/her own phenomena with the layering of this particular relationship: what phenomena emerge within while being held in the intentional attention of the witness.

Fundamental Mechanisms of DMT: Deconstructing and Reconstructing Our Use of Relationship

Laura Allen, MA, ​LCPC, ​BC-DMT, ​GL-CMA

Laura ​Downey, ​EdD, ​BC-DMT, ​LPC, ​GL-CMA ​

Susan ​Imus, ​MA, ​LCPC, ​BC-DMT, ​GL-CMA

Jessica Young, MA, LCPC, BC-DMT, GL-CMA

Advancement in education, research and articulated clinical practice in the field of dance/movement therapy requires continued clarification of our use of language and foundational concepts, identified in this workshop as fundamental mechanisms. Imus (2016/2017) identified 15 fundamental mechanisms that are shared by creative arts therapists along with a need to parse each of the fundamental mechanisms. This workshop will focus on the operationalization of the relationship fundamental mechanism with  particular focus on the therapeutic movement relationship and empathic reflection as key components of the relationship fundamental mechanism in dance/movement therapy. While dance/movement therapists agree that the therapeutic movement relationship and empathic reflection are the essence of dance/movement therapy, finding effective and accurate language to define and describe these terms is often challenging. Stemming from the findings of phenomenological studies with dance/movement therapists about their lived experiences of the therapeutic movement relationship (n=8, Young, 2017) and empathic reflection (n=10, Downey, 2016), presenters will deconstruct the relational fundamental mechanism of dance/movement therapy through the framework of interpersonal neurobiology (Seigel, 1999). Reconstruction of the concepts will lead to a more integrated understanding of the relational aspects of dance/movement therapy offering clarity in practice, supervision, pedagogy and research. Participants will experientially explore their own deconstruction of relationship in dance/movement therapy as well as how they apply the reconstruction in their own practice  within a cultural context. Applications will focus on strategies for teaching relational concepts beyond the clinical practice of dance/movement therapy, expanding the reach of dance/movement therapy with clarity of intention and language.


Film Screening of DMT (12:30 – 1:30 PM)

Ashley Fargnoli, MA, LCPC, BC-DMT

Film title: DMT (working title), work-in-progress screening           

Film description: In Kolkata, India, survivors of human trafficking and children living on the streets, railway platforms and red-light districts are forming an army of social change advocates. Once themselves victims of human trafficking and violent crimes, they are now helping other survivors come to terms with their often horrifying experiences through Dance/Movement Therapy. The film showcases acts of courage by ordinary people accomplishing extraordinary things. It will inspire viewers to look inward at their own dormant potential to right wrongs in real ways–whether in the back alleys of India or in their own backyards, wherever hope has been deterred if not lost altogether.                                                                                              Watch Trailer Here



Keynote speaker (1:30 – 2:20 pm)

David Alan Harris, MA, BC-DMT, NCC, LCAT (New York), LPC (Colorado)

David Alan Harris specializes in dance/movement therapy with survivors of human rights abuse and war.  He has lectured on the subject on five continents, and presently works with refugees for Heartland Alliance Health in Chicago.  When supervising a mental health team for two years in Sierra Leone in the aftermath of the country’s ruthless civil war, David introduced counselors to DMT methods there and in neighboring Liberia.  He launched what were apparently the first DMT groups in West Africa—including the first anywhere for former child combatants.

David later accepted the Freedom to Create 2009 Youth Prize at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum on behalf of the boy soldiers’ DMT group.  The American Dance Therapy Association (ADTA) has bestowed on David both its research award and its Leader of Tomorrow award.  In 2017, he shared its President’s award with Dr. Christina Devereaux for a special issue of the American Journal of Dance Therapy, which they co-edited from 2014 to 2017. A graduate of Drexel University’s DMT training program, David won the program’s 2002 award for outstanding student achievement.

David lectures and publishes on the application of DMT and movement-based creative interventions developed to foster psychosocial healing in the aftermath of massive violence.  A frequent workshop facilitator at ADTA annual conferences, he has taught graduate-level DMT courses on trauma recovery, and lectured on DMT at the last two International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims Symposia (in Berlin, 2006, and Mexico City, 2016).


In 2009, a dance/movement therapy group, known as Poimboi Veeyah Koindu (PVK, or Orphan Boys of Koindu, in their native Kissi language), comprised of former child soldiers from Sierra Leone, won a coveted international human rights award: the Freedom To Create Youth Prize.  David Alan Harris, BC-DMT, a dance/movement therapist, now based in Chicago, who launched and ran PVK with a trio of Sierra Leonean paraprofessional counselors, accepted the prize at a gala event in London’s Victoria and Albert Museum that November.  In this keynote address, David advances an abiding conviction that even after the fragmentation of brutality and war, dance can help reintegrate body and mind, and renew social cohesion.

At the core of the keynote is the story of this remarkable group of a dozen teenage orphans who discovered in dance/movement therapy (DMT) a means of coming to terms with their brutally traumatic experiences and reconciling with a community that had shunned them for their part in their homeland’s violent destruction.  The group’s members had all been involved in wartime atrocities from a very early age, and given the youths’ desensitization, in PVK’s initial sessions the former combatants would glorify rape and recount the most horrific acts without emotion, and regardless whether they had been the targets or perpetrators of the violence in question.  Incrementally, though, through a supportive DMT process the participants rediscovered enhanced agency, self-respect, and empathy.  In dancing together, they found ways to symbolize and reflect on the shared paradoxical lot of the child soldier: the simultaneity of powerlessness and power.  With encouragement from David and the facilitator team, the PVK youths successfully created for themselves a route to recovery and reconciliation in the aftermath of torture and war.

afternoon seminars (2:30 – 4:30 pm)

Beyond Words: Exploring Non-Verbal Communication in Clinical Practice

Erica Hornthal, LCPC, BC-DMT

Our bodies are always talking yet often times in clinical work, we only focus on the mind and verbal communication. Therapy is possible beyond words, but it requires a different skill set and clinical lens. Beyond Words is a workshop designed for social workers, mental health practitioners, and psychotherapists to explore how the body and non-verbal communication can be useful in clinical practice. This workshop invites the body and movement into the therapeutic relationship and examines how it can be used as a means of assessment and observation. Participants will walk away with greater awareness and understanding of their own body knowledge. Additionally, participants will learn how to recognize when other forms of therapy, like dance/movement therapy can be a useful outlet for clients who have reached a plateau in traditional talk therapy. Participants will explore the mind body relationship  and engage in an experiential designed to highlight how non-verbal communication can aid in therapy.

Blending Internal Family Systems and Authentic Movement in Clinical Work

Susan Cahill, MA, LCPC, BC-DMT

The presenter will introduce the history and application of Internal Family Systems (IFS) and Authentic Movement (AM) in the therapy setting. She will weave how they complement each other and can be combined to offer healing and Self Leadership in a clinical practice. Some case examples of how to introduce authentic movement and the language of IFS in therapy will also be provided along with hand- outs that offer ways for therapists to dialogue with clients about their moving experience using body-centered language and language used in IFS. Participants will be given an introduction of the Internal Family Systems Model as a theoretical framework for tracking the therapy session. Handouts will be given using IFS and Body Centered Questions for inquiry that are useful to therapists and facilitators of movement groups.

Increasing Our Awareness: Culture, Bias & the Body

Aisha Bell, LCPC, BC-DMT

Kyla Gilmore, LCPC, BC-DMT

The awareness of our relationship with culture, race, and bias is an essential component of effectively navigating the world around us and is a best-practice standard in clinical work. Gaining clinical tools to enhance cultural competency is a vehicle to appropriately navigate this space. Sobo and Loustanaunau (2010) remind us that “culture affects our perceptions and experiences of health and illness in many ways” and this is indeed a fluid and dynamic process. This training will take a deeper dive into our thought process, meaning making systems, and behaviors which impact treatment outcomes in efforts to help us develop a multicultural competent approach. “If we are aware of and understand how a simple and seemingly innocent comment can magnify stigma and shame, we can make more informed and intentional decisions in our conversations, especially with those who may hold identities different from ours that may carry with them a history of marginalization and stigma” (Levy, J., & Jones, A. (2013). By increasing our awareness of how our own racial and cultural narratives live in our body and arise when confronted with difference, we hope to aid clinicians in learning how to move forward having informed dialogue in clinical, supervisory, peer and communal relationships. This presentation will use lecture, discussion, video and experiential learning to create a supportive atmosphere to explore race, culture and identity through an embodied cultural competence approach developed by the Sistah Circle Group, LLC. This approach uses concepts from Dance/Movement Therapy and the work of organizational psychologist Chris Agyris with the Ladder of Inference, in order to explore personal and interpersonal experiences.

Activism as Community Self-Care: Employing Mechanisms of Dance/Movement Therapy

Lauren Rose Milburn, MA, R-DMT

Self-care, as a revitalizing response to clinician burnout, is commonly described as something that can only be resolved at the  individual level. The purpose of this presentation is to offer a different perspective of self-care, one that considers the role of  community and engages with processes of social change. Community self-care acknowledges that individuals, whether client or clinician, are attempting to heal in a larger social context of structural inequity. In fact, burnout may not be an individual flaw, but    rather the result of societal lacking in collective care. Therefore, clinicians have the option to confront patterns of burnout by  broadening self-care practices to include the community level. This presentation is designed to facilitate a participatory exploration of community self-care as informed by mechanisms of dance/movement therapy. Moving through a brief history of social change  tactics and development of dance/movement therapy, participants will explore where they overlap, identifying the emergent embodied concepts of community self-care. Then, participants will spend time experiencing these embodied concepts as a community. Finally, in an effort to inspire continued change, participants will formulate and commit to at least one action item for a practice of community self-care. This presentation will also screen the resulting film from presenter’s dance/movement therapy MA thesis, “Engaging Collective Embodied Resilience: Enacting Ritual Movement Practice in a Social Change Process.”

Creative Dance Application in Dance/Movement Therapy

Susan Schoon, MC/MFCT, LPC, R-DMT

This presentation will introduce participates to the work of Barbara Metter. Barbara Mettler worked her entire life promoting creative dance for all through her structured dance studies on time, space, and force. She began this endeavor with Mary Wigman in the 1930’s. Numerous dancers and dance/movement therapist have connection to these same roots. This presentation will demonstrate how creative movement studies can be the framework for a dance/movement therapy session that address the physical, emotional, and self-exploration needs of individuals and groups. This framework is congruent with Jungian theory and the work of Joan Chodorow and Marion Woodman on active imagination. This movement presentation also connects to the ongoing literature linking movement to positive neurological functioning. The movement studies presented may be used with individuals experiencing trauma and other    general practice issues. Content presented can be adapted to both clinical setting, private practice, and self-care for professionals. The experiential starts with a warm up that encourages body awareness and free movement within a structure. A study of the polarities tension and relaxation, as qualities of the movement element force, will follow introduction. Participants will explore moving freely with qualities of force and the range of creative material between these polarities, improvising freely while contrasting gradual and sudden tension and relaxation in a variety of possibilities. Improvising with these polarities will continue within the characteristic progression of creative dance – moving from individual to duos to whole group dance improvisation. Closing includes an opportunity to synthesize creative dance application into practice.

The Evolution, Adaptation, and Integration of DMT in the Business of Health Care

Megan Ross, PhD

Training in Dance Movement Therapy uniquely prepares clinicians with observation, diagnostic, and interpersonal clinical skills. When integratively offered, these skills have the ability to aid health care’s development and delivery in a uniquely positive manner. This presentation will engage in a discussion and offer case examples of ways Dance Movement Therapy can evolve, adapt and integrate its foundational principles and practices into the business of health care.



Host: Illinois Chapter of American Dance Therapy Association (IL ADTA)

Co-Sponsors: Dance/Movement Therapy and Counseling Program at Columbia College Chicago

Illinois Mental Health Counselors Academy (IMHCA)

Sponsors: Aloria Health, Chance to Dance, Chicago Dance Therapy, Inner Sense Healing Arts, 

Intouch&Motion, Live Oak, Margaret Mason, Susan Cahill, The Groove 





*If interested in sponsorship, please email IL ADTA Conference Committee


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