Introduction to Movement Therapy By Dilshad Patel


August 2, 2018

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We are happy to bring you an exclusive Introduction to Movement Therapy by our good friend Dilshad Patel

To become the best possible version of ourselves; we must develop a grounded understanding of self-concept and self-awareness. What better way to discover our humanness, strengths, weaknesses, the good and the bad than by effectively using the amazing personal resources available to the body, mind and spirit.

Movement is a non-verbal statement of a person’s feelings, energy and desire to communicate something from within. The mind and body are connected and they work as a unit of reciprocity. There is a direct co-relation between posture, our cognition as well as our mental and emotional states. For example, if we constantly indulge in negative thoughts, they influence our feelings and emotions. This in turn influences our posture, movement and actions. Therefore it is important that we move because motion influences our body image and this leads from a change in body image to a change in our attitudes as well as our perception of self.

27Let’s take a look at a case of depression. For example, if a person is depressed, the physical manifestation is that the spine droops downwards and perhaps the chest concaves inward. Due to this postural change, the breath becomes shallow and constricted. Psychologically, there is a feeling of being low, emotionally the person feels down and sad, cognition might be impaired due to anxiety and confused thoughts. Also more often than not, people with depression are usually socially withdrawn.

In such cases, the Movement Therapist may add subtle changes to the existing movements and posture of the client’s body. The therapist mirrors the client’s movements and meets them where they are at physically, emotionally and mentally using their bodies. It is during this movement dialogue, that a process of empathic reflection takes place and the patient begins to feel heard and understood.

The Movement Therapist may then make subtle changes to the existing movement patterns. Thus effectively creating changes in the way the person perceives themselves and their depression. Patterns may be repeated, new ways of moving may emerge and connections to the client’s behavior and relationships are uncovered.

So for example in the case of depression, the therapist would perhaps straighten out her back and shoulders, and engage the depressed client in the movement experience. When there are more options in a person’s movement world it equates to more options in his thinking ability and therefore changes in his behavior.

Although positive change and success may be subtle, when a person’s posture is upright, the breath changes from shallow to deep, the shoulders become extended backwards and the head, neck and back rise upwards.

It should be noted that a person cannot have a slouched posture when the shoulders are retracted backwards at the same time. The aim of Movement Therapy is to engage the body, and release the mind from unwanted thoughts as the movement takes over making the participant mindful of just being in the present moment in an active and organically induced meditative state.

These non-verbal cues that come from the client are further interpreted and the therapist then responds using new movements to create success in the body and psyche. In the most ideal scenario, the inner thoughts of the client unfold through a cathartic process.

Although this dyad of straightening back and shoulders creates incremental success for the client, imagine if there is change by enhancing every aspect of the client’s movement sequence creating a whole new way of functioning for the person.

Thus, movement therapy assists in releasing stress, strengthens the mind-body connection and enhances mental, physical and emotional well-being.

Similarly, we all know that when a person is angry, the movement pattern is to walk in a rigid, direct, and forceful manner. A person’s gestures, posture, facial expressions and the muscles in the upper and lower extremities of the body become tense. Breath is shallow, held in and restricted.

MTS-Megs-DPPeople express this anger in one of two ways: inwardly or outwardly. Deep hurt, fear, loss of some sort or frustration in turn manifest as anger. Some people implode inwards (suppress their anger) and some explode outwards.

Movement aids in physical release and the movement therapists thus provides the angry person a safe place to express and acknowledge the anger, as well as pent up emotions, and have an outlet for release of these emotions.

Movement Therapists work primarily on the psychological or mental issues that contribute to a certain condition, injury or illness using movement interventions.

Let’s take a look at how Movement Therapy is different from yoga or dance or Tai Chi. Yoga makes use of definitive postures or asanas which help the person in improving health. So to benefit completely, the person has to attain those specific postures. Therapy means to repair or build. It means working through a specific issue by delving deep and understanding the need for repair. Although yoga, dance and Tai Chi have healing properties and therapeutic value, they are very different from Movement Therapy. Yoga, dance and Tai Chi employ standardized techniques and aesthetic considerations that form their cores of their formal education. Learning yoga, dance, and Tai Chi have numerous benefits as do running, going to the gym or even playing a sport. All three disciplines prescribe definitive movements which enhance overall well-being.

However, dance, yoga and Tai Chi do not employ specialized psychotherapeutic interventions or treatment methods. Movement Therapy does and it is psychotherapy using movement.

MFH™- Movement for Healthcare-Bringing the Arts-in-Healthcare

In today’s times, there seems to be a trend of people who are at a standstill point in their lives, trying to find motivation, or achieve inner peace and happiness. With Movement for Healthcare (MFH™), people find solutions by moving in order to find themselves and the beauty within their lives once again.

The program is an introduction to the basic principles, techniques and methods of effectively using movement concepts with therapeutic value, for enhancing the over-all well-being of a person.

DSC_0808The main goal of this initiative is to improve the health related quality of life by enhancing an individual’s psychological and physical well-being through some fun-filled therapeutic dance and movement sessions.

Many prestigious hospitals in India have adopted the MFH™ Program.

Dilshad has worked with patients having low-lung capacity at Breach Candy hospital in Mumbai, India and I have conducted various educational seminars and programs for patients with Parkinson’s disease at Kokilaben Ambani Hospital, stroke patients at H.N. Reliance Hospital as well as for heart patients at Asian Heart Institute.

Her intention is to build a community of MFH™ practitioners and equip more people so that they can use movement for better health within the hospital setting at various hospitals in Mumbai and the US.

MFH™ has a mission to deliver the immense benefits of Movement Therapy to the maximum number of patients with varying conditions, injuries, and illnesses.

Movement Therapy For Sports (MTS®)

MTS®- is a unique performance optimization tool – MTS®- Movement Therapy for Sports, a training method to work with athletes and sports teams innovated by Movement Therapist Dilshad Patel.

MTS®- Movement Therapy for Sports uses a scientific approach that enables athletes and sports teams to fully maximize their potential. It is a motivational tool and a training method that uses movement to tap into the psyche, empowering individual athletes, as well as sports teams, to find inner peace, release stress, gain strength and stability, improve their energy levels and create new internal pathways to achieve mind-body synchrony. ©

While in India, her program MTS®- Movement Therapy for Sports has been adopted by elite sports teams like the Rajasthan Royals in the Indian Premier Cricket League and the Canadian National cricket team during their training for the 2011 World Cup. MTS® has also been adopted by professional golfer Sharmila Nicollet. She is the youngest Indian to qualify for the Ladies European Tour and has even played an exhibition match with Tiger Woods. She has recently been appointed by the ‘GoSports Foundation’ to train India’s current no. 1 Rhythmic Gymnast-Meghana Gundlapally for the World Cup preparation.

When would MTS® help a cricketer or a golfer?

A seasoned and experienced cricketer already has an innate potential and capability to perform well. However, sometimes there might be some hidden issues and mental and physical hurdles that the player might be facing which contribute to poor performance.

MTS®-Movement therapy for sports then addresses those hidden issues and thoughts that may be the reason behind the unfavorable outcome in his game.

Why is MTS® important for cricket?

Cricket requires synchronicity of movement from the players, both in the context of fellow team members and in context to oneself. It is imperative that a cricketer becomes proficient at intuitively understanding teammates’ body language, his own in relation to them, and in relation to the ball. Given this dual purpose inherent in the sport, it becomes all the more important for the mind-body connectivity to be strengthened.

DSC_1949For example:

· The ability to catch a ball traveling at a high speed would be affected by one’s ability to focus visually, correctly gauge the ball’s spatial orientation, the timing of arriving under the ball at the right time and in being able to execute the movement without injury to self.

· In sports where precise execution of certain movements is crucial to success, analyzing this process becomes necessary. By observing the movements of a player, the MTS®-Movement therapy for sports professional can identify, diagnose and as a consequence, offer a solution to remove mental and physical barriers that impede movement. Every part of the brain and body is activated through MTS®-Movement therapy for sports.

Just as sports can be rewarding, it can also be stressful. The athlete faces numerous sources of stress that could range from competitive situations, relationships with support staff, fear of performance failure, personal and family stress, social support, isolation and many other external stressors. These stressors inevitably impact the cognitive, emotional, physiological, behavioral, mental, physical and social well-being of the player. The perception of stress can greatly impact the coping method and thus impact the performance of the athlete.

Understanding the source of stress results in addressing it; which in turn helps the athlete cope with stress better. The player is encouraged to find solutions within his personal resources organically, through movement.

RR Season 3.In conclusion, MTS®-Movement therapy for sports professionals play a significant role in helping the player to go beyond externalizing and thinking about his or her difficulties. To externalize is not to see oneself as the source of one’s own experiential process but rather as outside of it. To think implies that the athlete has a cognitive or an abstract understanding of his or her difficulties yet lacks an emotional involvement with them. Therefore MTS®-Movement therapy for sports professionals’ help athletes by going deep into the subconscious mind, while in action and thus address those specific issues that are unique to the player, which then helps them to find solutions to issues from within, moment by moment as the movement occurs.

MTS®-Movement therapy for sports professionals analyze these movement patterns to bring about desirable change that impact the player both physically and mentally.

About Dilshad: Dilshad has intensively worked as a Movement Therapist’ both in India and in the US. She trained at the Harkness Dance Center-(approved coursework by the ADTA) in New York. She has collaborated with a well-renowned Houston based company-Rhythm-India, through which she runs both her programs. Some of her noted work includes ‘Movement Therapy for Sports’ with the Indian IPL Team Rajasthan Royals (Seasons 3 and 5) and the Canadian Cricket team (during the ICC World Cup 2011).  She has introduced Movement Therapy to hospitals in India with a view to enhance the psychological and physical well-being of patient populations, through her program, Movement for Healthcare (MFH™). Her life’s purpose is to positively impact the health related quality of life by spreading the joy of movement, exercise and dance.

DIlshad’s Story

Her journey in dance and movement started at the age of 4 – she studied Indian classical and Indo-fusion dance at the prestigious Nateshwar Nritya Kala Mandir with the guidance of her beloved Guru Chayya Khanvate in Mumbai, India. At the age of 18, she became an instructor and member of the dance company at Shiamak Davar’s Institute for the Performing Arts (SDIPA)-one of India’s foremost Bollywood and Indo-fusion dance institutes. Through SDIPA, she had the wonderful experience of travelling and performing all over the world. In her 8 years with them, she taught approximately five thousand students of all ages, backgrounds, and nationalities.

desktop pumpstart (1) (1)But before this happened for her, at age 18, she didn’t have much direction towards pursuing the right career path. She decided to take a sabbatical from education and found herself at cross roads. Not once did it occur to her, or her parents, that joining a dance class would have such a positive life changing impact on Dilshad’s life.

That’s when she found her true calling as a member of a dance company. She was getting into shape, making new friends, experiencing a healthy level of competition, and most importantly – getting true encouragement from her peers and mentors. Dance and exercise taught her patience, resilience, and discipline.

Teaching dance made her realize she wanted to do more with exercise and movement. Observing the positive changes that were taking place in the children and adults who came from extremely stressful environments and varied backgrounds made her realize the importance, benefits and value of movement and exercise. She began a process of self-discovery through dance.

While at the SDIPA institute, she had the exposure and opportunity to teach people from underprivileged backgrounds and people with physical disabilities, which motivated her to pursue education in dance/movement therapy.

She left the SDIPA institute in 2005, went back to school and completed her Bachelors degree in psychology and philosophy. She then went on to pursue graduate level education in dance/movement therapy via the alternate route –( approved coursework by the ADTA ) from the 92nd Street Y, Harkness Dance Center, New York.

While pursuing the alternate route via a three year summer intensive program, she  was able to carry out her work in India, with the guidance of supervisors, which is when she started conducting sessions for various demographics-corporates, patient populations, athletes and prisoners to name a few.

In 2010, she founded an organization that pioneered the use of movement therapy for professional athletes as well as patient populations in India through her programs Movement Therapy for Sports (MTS®) and Movement for Healthcare (MFH™).

She currently lives in Houston, where she has collaborated with a well-renowned company called Rhythm-India, through which she runs both her training programs. She continues to carry out her work in India, for a few months in the year. She is also pursuing her Masters in Exercise Science/ Physiology from the University of Houston, Clear Lake.

Dilshad has presented her work as an international panelist at the 42nd ADTA-American Dance Therapy Association’s annual global international conference held in Albuquerque, New Mexico in 2012. This was evidenced in an article that was published in the AJDT-American Journal of Dance Therapy documenting her work in India.