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PERSON, not diagnosis

“I’ve always enjoyed and been good at dance. Growing up in a joint family, I was the youngest. I always felt like I needed another form of expression to feel more understood. I did not have my own room growing up till the age of 22. Always felt like I needed my space, my own sense of expression which took in the place of dance eventually. It gave me a safe, confident space where I could just be me. When I was in my 2nd year of BMM studies I got hit with a massive dose of anxiety. I didn’t really understand it back then. It stemmed from growing up in a joint family where I saw a lot of conflicts within my home and externally the 26/11 attacks, or in general acts of terrorism, death and violence would really affect me. I lost two friends to suicide so even though I wasn’t as close to them I took in a lot of the trauma from that. I became so fearful of death and illness that I would feel a lot of physiological pain and my parents would have to run me to the ER every other day because I thought I was getting a heart attack, or losing myself to Cancer. I was so anxious that I would sleep between my parents as a 19yr old. That entire phase of my life was a really stressful one for me and my parents as there was a point in my life where I thought the only way to end the pain was maybe to end my life.

I got through my anxiety levels by doing yoga, taking a more spiritual path which helped me on a body and soul level. On a mind level, the therapy really helped, but dance was the one medium which helped process a lot of my emotions. I felt extremely invincible and distracted from all the turmoil inside. Thats when I personally realised the relationship between dance and mental health for myself. Applying to get a Masters in Media Communications, I happened to come across a Masters in Dance/Movement Therapy & Counselling. It was in that moment that I knew what I was meant to do. With my experience with dance and a few pre-requisites in psychology I went to study in Chicago. After gaining work experience at a hospital in America I moved back to start DMT which is a form of psycho therapy which focuses on the connection between the body and the mind, one way to facilitate change is through the body. DMT looks less like dance that you would normally imagine it, so in movement therapy I will never teach a client how to move. Unlike in dance class I am only taking on the movements that they are reacting with. Something as simple as your breath, heart beat and the posture in which you hold your body, can be movement.

I work at a clinic called Prisim - The Healing Institute, where I see adults for individual therapy and counseling. So the therapy is 60% verbal and depending on what the patient’s goal and process is, I will weave the body aspect in through the session. Whatever happens on a body level - the sensations, feelings, thoughts and images that surface; are so sub conscious sometimes that they need to be verbally processed in order to make sense of it all on a conscious level. So with this therapy we make the patient feel the palpitations, the heartbeat and the sweat, all the anxiety related changes, consciously making them more aware of it which can be unnerving for a lot of patients, but helps patients work through the challenges better. On a group level, I work with children with special needs at SPJ Sadhana School, which is more non-verbal than verbal due to their cognitive challenges. It is primarily more movement, music and structured activities. I also work on the Pediatric Oncology department at Tata Memorial Hospital. The beauty about Dance/Movement Therapy is anyone can benefit from it. It can be utilized with people of all ages, diagnoses, challenges and backgrounds. You don’t have to have a dance background to utilize it. Something as simple as every day stress to more complex experiences like depression, anxiety, dementia and psychosis have been healed through Dance/Movement Therapy & Counseling.” (To get in touch with Ruchi and to understand more about Dance/Movement Therapy & Counseling please contact her at ruchis.dmt@gmail.com)

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