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4 October 2017
Mental Health is a massive issue in the UK, with a recent study showing that almost 1 in 4 people in the UK say they have experienced a mental health issue in the last year.
We spoke to Dance Movement Psychotherapist (DMP) Hannah Creighton of Gyidance about the influences that inspired her to help people with mental health issues and those who’ve experienced grievance and loss.
DMP isn’t familiar to most, tell us a bit about it
‘Your body stores memories and dance and movement can help release these held emotions. Unlike traditional psychotherapy, where individuals are expected to talk, it’s an alternative approach to express oneself, accessesing places that words can’t reach.
It’s extremely beneficial for those who need a way to channel held energies, such as those with mental illness or with disabilities like Autism. It is a creative process that meets the individual where they are at in their present moment. Music and props can support this and create a natural boundary between them and the therapist, using the best method to suit the individual.’
What inspired you to train as a Dance Movement Psychotherapist?
‘From the age of 6 months my mother put me into lots of clubs – starting with gymnastics and then moving on to ballet and trampolining. When I was 10 my mother passed away and everything suddenly stopped. It was only when I went to Secondary School, and they offered dance for GCSE, that I started again, eventually going on to University to do a BA in Dance and Theatre Arts. I love choreography and being creative. It’s almost like it was an unconscious acknowledgement to my mother who must have seen the potential in me.
I’ve experienced some mental issues myself, and after University I went to Australia for some time out. It was there I got involved in a local festival and worked with a secondary school on a dance project, and decided to do a Masters degree in DMP.
I’ve always liked to challenge myself and losing my mother at young age has made me want to live life to the full and push myself. I have a keen interest in working with mental health and having experienced loss, and suffered from poor mental health myself, I can combine my training with real empathy.
I started doing youth community dance projects and now frequently work with the elderly who’ve lost life, family and friends. I feel incredibly honoured to be part of their journey and hear about what’s happened in their lives. I also run Dance for Parkinson’s classes for people with Parkinsons, helping them with movements that can help them take a step forward. DMP has naturally found a place in these classes as it helps the participants realise what they still have to give.
Mental health is the field I’m very passionate about and that’s what my dance project is about.’
Tell us about the Dance Project showing at Pound Arts on Saturday 7th October
‘Mental health is not straight forward and difficult to grasp. Life is incredibly fragmented when you live with a mental health issue.
The dance project looks at the fragmentation of us as human beings. Many people with mental health are riddled with fear and anxiety and they’re just trying to find a way to cope with what’s going on in life with them. A lot of people can’t put into words how they feel and what they’re experiencing. DMP is another way to express, release & communicate.
The dance piece follows two dancers who are portraying the internal and external self, and the conflicts between them – the internal is desperate to get out but the external is not ready to face reality. The external may have become socially excluded or is avoiding day to day living but would rather ignore it as facing it is too overwhelming.
We’re doing the dance as part of the Peacock Arts Trail – we’re running a workshop on Saturday morning and then the dance early evening with Q & A. We want to take it into schools to educate young people about mental health – showing them that there are other ways to manage your problems apart from talking.
Come and see it on 7th October Pound Arts in Corsham – 4.00 to 4.30 and 6.45 to 7.15
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