“Talk to the doctor, look at her when she is talking.”
When entering a doctor’s office, a place of work or the company of an adult – We often feel obligated to ensure our children will show respect. This respect is defined to our children as sitting still, making eye contact and responding to any and all questions.
For me, this is not imparative. I encourage parents to understand that the therapeutic environment is a unique place that allows their child to be exactly as they are. A place where I can communicate and listen to them with their gestures, posture, facial expressions and nonverbal communicaiton. Here is how it works…
When Daisy (age 4.5) entered the office she walked backwards with her body facing her father. She made no eye contact and said nothing. She walked with care and coordination managing to balance her limbs without bumping into the desk or door. She gently and softly lowered her body onto the shag carpet and faced the couch, continuing to look at her father’s face.
I stated, “Welcome Daisy and Dad, I am going to tell you about our time together today. Daisy, I was able to watch you carefully walk facing dad into the room, I see how you are sitting on the floor, how you are making choices in touching the pillows and playfully moving the fabric…”
I informed both Daisy and her father that this was Daisy’s communication choice and that she may decide to use words, to look in the direction she feels is best for her, and that her father could talk with me too. After her father answered and asked some preliminary questions, I noticed that Daisy’s speed of movement increased, she flipped pillows upside down and backwards.
So in the way Dance/Movement Therapists practice, I joined Daisy. I asked her father to see if he could observe his daughters movements, to view them as intentional, and to see if we could speak her language.
We did it!
We turned the materials, we moved our arms and we followed her ideas and nonverbal language. I gave permission to Daisy to switch being the leader with her father or me – she stayed in control and then ultimately shifted to follow her father and then intentionally turned around, watched and followed me.
Together we created a routine, a coversation of how our power dynamic would occur in this session, today! Daisy would be in charge, she had a lot to offer, she used the space to bond with her father and she would open up when she felt ready.
To me, this 10 minute moment opened the stage for an authentic relationship, highlighted the dynamics that Daisy creates in social situations and offered insight into her processing and connections. The trust was immediatley created and the therapeutic alliance secured.
Did you know that our relationships can be just like a dance? Physical movement supports communication, trust, and connection. Everyday I work with children of all ages and their families to help support the meaningful connection and needs expressed by each other! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at (310) 966-0700 to schedule your time.
Please Note: These stories are based on real moments but all names, ages, and identifying information has been changed to ensure confidentiality and safety for all individuals involved. The events are a composite of related scenarios used to illustrate the work; bringing understanding to the benefits of supporting children through a mind/body connection.