Staying resourced as a dance/movement therapist.



I’ve attempted to write in my blog the past few weeks.  As a blogger, it’s my goal to post every other week.  Unfortunately, circumstances kept getting in my way of writing.  Or a better way of saying it, my coping strategies to various circumstances kept getting in my way of writing.   This past week I fell ill to a wicked virus and two weeks ago I experienced the most intense week at my job that I’ve ever experienced.  During this time, I would sit down and attempt to write, but I would end up staring at a singular jammed-out paragraph before quitting.  I’ve been contemplating what it means to be “resourced” as a dance/movement therapist as a result of navigating the intense work week and my personal illness.  What does a resourced therapist look like and how do I draw upon my resources to both serve my clients and stay healthy?

The term resourced is often a term that is associated with self-care.  As a mental health professional to be resourced often means that if we address self-care then we are in a good place, or we are resourced, to provide our clients with the services they need on a daily basis.  We are able to engage in rational detachment and have unconditional positive regard for our clients.  The tricky part of being resourced is that it often dissipates without our awareness.  We rely on this part of ourselves and only realize that we’ve failed to nourish it when it’s no longer there for us to draw from.  We can find ourselves in a moment, acting a specific way in the therapy room (usually in a way that is NOT in the best interest of our clients), stop, and think, “What am I doing?  This is not coming from a resourced, healthy place.”  And from there we must re-set, re-charge, and resource ourselves.

As I mentioned above, it’s safe to say that I experienced the most intense week of work that I have ever experienced- it was as if everyone was off-balance.  There were a few incidents of clients inappropriately coping to stress (e.g. tearing artwork off the walls, flipping over chairs, threatening staff), dance/movement therapy (DMT) groups were lackluster and unorganized, and my clients’ energy felt more intense and somewhat intrusive.  Dare I say it, but clients even felt, “needy.”  All week I tried to respond, react, be flexible and provide support.  Nothing I did seemed to work and it felt that chaos was going to ensue despite my best efforts.

Then I had a moment where I realized I had reached my limit- I had reached my max.  On this particular Thursday, I dismissed my last DMT group for the day while judging myself because group seemed restless.  Upon dismissal three clients approached me needing to express something all… at… the… same… time.  The three clients were talking all at once, trying to get near me as if to receive support first, and in general, invading my space physically, mentally, and energetically.  I hate to admit it, but I responded by lifting my hands in the air and saying sternly and calmly, “Good bye.  Go home.  We’ll process tomorrow.”  I have never felt so disoriented, invaded, or unresourced in my whole (short) DMT career.

Shortly thereafter I collapsed in my office chair and processed with my team members about what had happened.  As I was relaying the moment to them I got this sense as if those three clients were all searching for me.  It was as if they were searching for my healthy part that they usually connect to.  They weren’t able to find my healthy part, thus turning up the volume on their anxiety of making a healthy attachment.  The three clients were all looking for me, and unfortunately, they weren’t able to find the Emily they are used to finding.

In this moment not only did I the understand that I was not resourced, but I also had a deeper understanding of what resourced meant.  For me, being resourced is not necessarily about self-care or getting a good night’s rest, but it’s really about being connected to my core-self.  To be resourced is to be have all my parts integrated (think Internal Family Systems), so that all of my actions come from my core, or healthy Self.  And if I am not necessarily integrated, for whatever reason, I have cognizance of it instead of trying to ignore my disintegrated Self.  I realize now that I must constantly remind myself that what is happening in the DMT room is NOT about me and I should give up any notion that I can (or would even want) to control such events.  I’d like to add, however, to relinquish control is not the same as relinquishing the task of holding the container.

I realize now too that when you distill it all down, being resourced is also about kindness.  The more kindness I show to myself the more kindness I am able to show to my clients.  If I am able to say myself, “You know what?  Today is not my best day,” then I am able to know this, honor it, and in some way to let it go to make space for my ability to be resourced.

About emilyadannunzio

Board Certified-Dance/Movement Therapist. Movement Analyst (GL-CMA). Researcher. Dancer. Bartender. Detroit, MI.
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7 Responses to Staying resourced as a dance/movement therapist.

  1. Jeannine says:

    I love this so much. Thank you for sharing… I could have kept reading about your thoughts on this…💗

  2. Hello Ms. Dannunzio,
    though the image you use on your post is quite appropriate for the topic you are discussing, the use of my image would be more acceptable if it was used to discuss and link back to the related discussion on my blog about “response art” (and not just with a web link) . I am somewhat uncomfortable with the fact that you are using my painting to simply ‘illustrate’ your blog post and as such I would like you to take it down.
    Thank you
    Francine Lévesque, art therapist

  3. Bev says:

    Beautiful said, Emily. Inner connectivity…….

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