Dance Therapy in the New Day Counselling Centre
 – A Client’s Perspective


Jim Smyth


So far, I’ve had three full days of dance therapy. My first experience must be seen 
in the light of my own problems. I’m very desensitised to my own feelings. So,
 that first day I started (the only man in a group of twelve women), it would be true 
to say I had no idea how uncomfortable I was.

I love to dance. But dancing to me involves drink and drugs and a darkened room.
 Dancing is something done at night, and this was ten in the morning.

I’d gone through life by pretending my body didn’t exist. For as long as I can 
remember, I’ve been lost in my head, cut off from myself and surroundings.
 Suddenly I was being asked to do the opposite, bring my awareness down to my
 body and lose the head. In doing this I felt naked, my body felt limp and
 misshapen.

My second dance therapy experience was an altogether different affair. I was more 
in touch with how I felt – and I felt angry. Once again I was the only man there and
 this time I knew I didn’t like it.

There was a lot of anger all round on that day. There’s one rhythm, Staccato, where 
it’s possible to stamp out feelings of rage – that day we sounded like an army on the 
march.

At one stage we were asked to pair off with someone and then take turns dancing
 with the other watching. When dancing, I can’t ever remember feeling so self-
conscious. The only way I could relax was to pretend I was on my own.

At the end of the session, during the discussion of the day, I found myself speaking
 out. I said a lot of people there were dealing with anger toward men and on the 
face of it, this was fine, I was dealing with the same emotions towards women. But
 I was out-numbered.

When I look back now, I realise what I thought had been a disastrous day had in 
actual fact been something of a breakthrough. It was as if a huge hand had grabbed
 me and given me an almighty shake. Feelings that were hidden below came 
charging out in to the open. Previous to this, there was no way I’d have spoken out 
the way I did.

At the third session I felt transformed. I was joined by other men from my regular 
group. But somehow, at this stage, this was no longer an issue for me. When I watched them and other beginners, I could see how I’d been when I’d started myself. 
I found myself starting to enjoy my own body. There was a moment during each 
of the rhythms, Flowing, Staccato, etc, where I lost myself completely. Each time 
this happened only for a minute or two, but those moments were of blissful
 abandon. Everything suddenly seemed to make sense.

I couldn’t claim I’ve found dance therapy all that easy. In the beginning it was 
certainly a testing time. But it’s helped to show me how good it can be to feel and
 for that alone it’s been worth it.