“I see my movement much richer and varied. I can look at myself in the mirror and say – This is me and it’s OK” says a woman from Inbal Interdisciplinary Center
I was excited, curious, and a little bit anxious when Hadas Tal-Ragolsky, an Open Floor dancer, Dance Movement Therapist (DMT) and Psychotherapist who works in the Inbal Interdisciplinary Center in the Negev, invited me to co-facilitate the center’s first Dance Movement Therapy (DMT) group program. The Inbal Center offers therapy to survivors of sexual trauma in cooperation with the Yachdav organization. I was invited to co-facilitate a DMT group for women who were participants of the group in Inbal. Our goal with this group was to establish the body as a resource using the Open Floor Core Movement Resources (CMRs). We wanted to teach simple embodiment tools the women could use in their everyday lives. We hoped to give participants an opportunity to connect to their bodies and regain a sense of safety, control, and trust. We also wanted to practice relational skills and offer the opportunity for them to feel support from a group of women with similar experiences. With all that in mind, we also hoped to have some good dances with vitality and playfulness! We wanted to bring in “the whole Open Floor package”.
“Ground” turned out to be one of the most essential CMRs we used. It was part of the movement practice even when the focus was on something else.
Survivors of sexual trauma have difficulty being present. Staying with their sensations, emotions, and thoughts can be overwhelming. There is a tendency to dissociate. Learning to get support from the ground and a sense of stability can be an essential tool.
We introduced the CMR Ground by asking them to explore the weight of their bodies; rooting their feet and other body parts into the ground; moving on the ground; pushing off the ground. They practiced noticing how awareness of the solid ground underneath us creates the possibility to release holding and tension. In one of the sessions, we decided we needed to go slower, simpler, and drop down to the floor. Sitting on the ground we took a long while to feel the imprint of our bodies on the floor and the feel of the floor on our bodies. We explored the stability and solidity of the floor beneath, the sensations that arise from that connection, how it shapes the body.
We noticed the group was more present than ever before. There was a sense of vitality and a spark in their eyes. We saw some spontaneous interactions happening in the group for the first time. It seemed that when they felt supported by the ground beneath them, it was possible to try something new and take some risk.
We talked about what being grounded felt like for them. Each participant shared what anchors and supports them in their lives like the floor. One of the women, who often struggled with starting sentences without finishing them, was talking with a lot of fluidity. Now that she had found her ground she was able to speak in a clear and coherent way!
In the words of some of our participants…