Body, Brain, and Relationship: Dance/Movement Therapy and Children with Complex Trauma

Christina Devereaux, PhD, LCAT, LMHC, BC-DMT and Lauren Harrison, MA, LPC, R-DMT co-authored a chapter in the forthcoming book, Dance/Movement Therapy for Trauma Survivors Theoretical, Clinical, and Cultural Perspectives Edited By Rebekka Dieterich-Hartwell, Anne Margrethe Melsom

This co-authored chapter by Devereaux and Harrison discusses the clinical application of neurodevelopmentally-informed dance/movement therapy for children with adverse childhood experiences and complex trauma. Drawing from Stephen W. Porges’ empirically supported research surrounding neurophysiology of safety, Bruce Perry’s Neurosequential model of therapeutics, and the work of other attachment-oriented scholars, the authors describe the case of Ricky, a child with complex trauma and his treatment progression within a four-year therapeutic relationship. The approaches discussed within the case are not meant to manualize treatment with any child but instead, to emphasize that each individual therapeutic relationship has its own unique dance that should be carefully uncovered. Treatment progression can be targeted by engaging in interventions that support the child’s neurological readiness based on their neuro-developmental level. Through symbol and metaphor, bodily memories can be co-regulated and neural expectancies can be revised. Finally, the authors discuss the critical role of consultation and self-care when working within this population and the essential ongoing self-examination of therapist bias and assumption. At the conclusion of the chapter, authors provide a sample list of specific DMT intervention strategies that can be applied to individuals, group, and telehealth sessions.