Dance Movement Therapy: Suicide Prevention Workshop

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    • 00:13

      SUSAN IMUS: Part of the role of a dance movement therapistis to be able to move furniture and to adapt wherever you areto create the best use of our spaceto make it a really safe environment for our clientsand our patients.So we're setting up here for our suicide prevention program

    • 00:36

      SUSAN IMUS [continued]: called Making Connections.And this program began in our community in 2002,and it was brought into campus in 2005.The main goals for our suicide prevention programinclude identifying risk factors, warning signs,and protective factors in suicide prevention.

    • 00:58

      SUSAN IMUS [continued]: In addition, our program includesa very unique approach, which is helping the participantsidentified body signals.And we believe the body signals are an integral part in helpingsomebody be able to understand someone else'sbehavior and their affect.Because movement is the medium in which we live our lives,

    • 01:22

      SUSAN IMUS [continued]: so it would be the strongest indicator of factorsfor us to become aware of.One of the questions I ask our studentsafter we review the definition of suicideand a definition of empathy, I ask them,what you need in order to respondfrom an empathic reflection.

    • 01:44

      SUSAN IMUS [continued]: Would you be able to help someone if you're like this?No.What do you need?I was looking for a very basic concept,and that is we need energy.So what kind of energy do have, iswhat I asked the participants.I want you to show, non-verbally,how much energy you have available to yourself

    • 02:07

      SUSAN IMUS [continued]: right now at this time.So we do what I call a Nonverbal Likert Scale,and you indicate from high to low where your energy isin your body right now.OK.So I'm going to invite you, Ryan, to come into the center.Jenny, Amanda, you into the center.

    • 02:28

      SUSAN IMUS [continued]: And I'm going to invite Rosie into the center.I put the low energy people in the center of the circle,and the higher energy people around them.--circle on the outside, we have higher energy.And the idea is to exaggerate the extremes,because what I eventually do is helpthem begin to see how just in walking,

    • 02:50

      SUSAN IMUS [continued]: and in changing things about your movement energy,you begin to see the patterns of movement thatcan be reflective of personality,and can also be reflective of mental illness.Notice what you feel in your own body right now.Where's your energy now ?

    • 03:11

      ROSIE: I think I feel more tired now than I did before.

    • 03:16

      SUSAN IMUS: Do you have any idea why?

    • 03:18

      ROSIE: I think just collectively,all exaggerating really fatigued movement,and then watching everyone else.

    • 03:26

      SUSAN IMUS: High energy people could be an example of somebodywho has mania.Low energy people, who were in the center of the groupwere representative of people with depression.

    • 03:38

      LAURA: I felt really squished.Like, really squished on the inside.Like that energy was so big, therewasn't even any space for me.

    • 03:46

      SPEAKER 1: I felt like we were this ongoing-- the world--the fast-paced world going around.And I noticed the middle circle, and how kind of down they were.So that just kind of speaks a lot to meto the fact that mental illness and whatever comes along,contemplating suicide, depression, or whatever,this-- not feeling connected to what's

    • 04:08

      SPEAKER 1 [continued]: going really on around us.

    • 04:10

      SPEAKER 2: I thought I was really low on energy,but all the screaming that you guys were doingkind of pumped up my energies.if I got a lot out of it.

    • 04:19

      SUSAN IMUS: It never fails that peoplethat are in the low energy group get drawn into the high energygroup.And that's because we know movement is motivational.We know that that choice of the people that you're aroundin your lives, and what you chooseto do in your use of movement, can really motivate you

    • 04:41

      SUSAN IMUS [continued]: and change your behavior.And we witnessed that in the process of the suicideprevention program.

    • 04:48

      SPEAKER 3: I didn't feel like I was one of the higher energypeople when we into the circle.I was like, I should be in the middle.And then I think I got energy from going around.It's like you get energy from trying to have energy.

    • 05:00

      SUSAN IMUS: Umhm.The session today was quite complex.We went through a variety of different techniquesthat are utilized by dance movement therapist.Those techniques include helping a personbecome aware of their own body awareness.

    • 05:17

      LAURA: So we're going to go back a little bitto the intrapersonal awareness.And this is just a little experiential exerciseto practice honing that intrapersonal awareness, right?So you can kind of get comfy in your chair,whether you keep your leg up, whether youkeep the legs folded.You might want to bring both feet to the floor

    • 05:39

      LAURA [continued]: to maximize your movement here, or your motion.Let the chair support your back.

    • 05:49

      SUSAN IMUS: We learned some life skills training,which helps promote resiliency and the abilityto respond and react to stressors in our lives.

    • 05:59

      LAURA: We're going to start with our face and our head.Your whole skull is layered with muscles.So if you can think of tensing your entire headand face by making a funny face.Maybe squeezing up your eyes.It's Halloween, so think of that scary ahh face.Tensing up your face, maybe pulling your lips open wide,

    • 06:22

      LAURA [continued]: squeezing your eyes together, so you can createthat tension in the skull.We're going to take a great big deep breath in.[DEEP BREATH]And then breathe it out.And as you breathe out, we're goingto try to relax all of those muscles.Widening the forehead, widening the cheeks, letting the mouthcome back.Release your jaw there.

    • 06:44

      LAURA [continued]: We're going to move on to the shoulders.There a couple of ways you can tense your shouldersand tighten them.You can either pull them up to your ears,or you pull them forward.So we're going to tighten the shoulders,pulling them up or squeezing them forward.Take a big, deep breath in here.[DEEP BREATH]And we'll breathe it all out, and release.

    • 07:05

      LAURA [continued]: And again, you can add a little wiggle-jiggle in there,to help it let go.

    • 07:09

      SUSAN IMUS: Part of our ability to understand these feelings isfor us to be able to identify the body signals of others,and then to bring them into our own body.But we call this empathic reflection.You're going to try and understandsomebody else's feelings.

    • 07:30

      SUSAN IMUS [continued]: And we're going to teach you these strategies, whichwe call body thinking strategies,in order for you to better understandwhat may be going on in that person whomhas some suicidal ideation.Laura and I are going to demonstrate the next movementexercise we're going to do.

    • 07:50

      SUSAN IMUS [continued]: And then we're going to have all of you do this.I'm going to pick one of those feelings up thereand I'm going to sculpt Laura into that feeling.So I'm the sculptor and she's the piece of artwork.So we also want to just check in with safe touch.

    • 08:13

      SUSAN IMUS [continued]: If we're putting somebody into a sculpture,you're respectful of how you touch them,but you do not tell your art what feelingyou're putting their body into.And then I'm going to ask her to hold it.So you're going to sculpt-- the sculptor is goingto put the shape into the person's body,

    • 08:36

      SUSAN IMUS [continued]: and then you're going to come into the center of the room.An empathic reflection is where we use our own body awarenessin order to understand the body signals of another.And we do this through sculpture making, where we place somebodyinto a posture of a feeling that we have previously identified

    • 08:57

      SUSAN IMUS [continued]: as being some of the major feelings peoplewho have expressed suicidal intention-- they'reeither low risk or moderate risk--and we have identified those, and they'reselecting one of those prominent feelingsin which to sculpt into a partner's body.And once again, they have to utilize their own body

    • 09:18

      SUSAN IMUS [continued]: awareness as they try to sculpt it into somebody else's body.And were practicing using body awareness recognition and thenbody signal identification.

    • 09:28

      SPEAKER 4: When I was describing that feeling that I had,first it seemed like sadness, and thenpotentially isolation or emptiness.But when Laura asked me to-- it was a very sort of bound,closed position.And we weren't sure what to do with my right hand,because my left hand was like this, and my eyes were closed.But when we pulled my right hand across my kneesin a sort of protective way, and then

    • 09:49

      SPEAKER 4 [continued]: added this tensions my fingers, it really moved towards shame.And it was really interesting how those nuanced movementsbrought out the feeling that she was hoping to.

    • 10:02

      SUSAN IMUS: Imagine somebody who is experiencing the feelingsthat we saw sculpted around the room, and they are truly stuck.And they hold that position, they hold that tension,they hold that facial expression and that focus for weeks,

    • 10:23

      SUSAN IMUS [continued]: or maybe even years, and don't know how to get out of it.Suicide, unfortunately, is the tenth leading causesof death in the United States.We also know that the majority of peoplewho do die by suicide, 90% of them do have a mental illness.

    • 10:47

      SUSAN IMUS [continued]: It also tends to be the third leadingcause of death for young adult and adolescents.And that's why one of the reasonsit's so important for us to provide suicide preventiontraining on college campuses, because we'regoing from one in ten, in the United States, to one in three.

    • 11:08

      SUSAN IMUS [continued]: Yes, we're doing role plays right nowwhere they are reading through the list of risk factors,warning signs, protective factors,and they're creating a scenario, or whatwe call a case study, which is fictitious at this point,but that puts all those factors togetherso they can understand them better.

    • 11:29

      SUSAN IMUS [continued]: And then they're going to role playthat so that we see a demonstrationwhat it might look like in real life,and how they would learn to incorporate our suicideprevention steps, which include observing, understanding,and responding.

    • 11:49

      SPEAKER 1: Oh my god!Can you believe that?Look at her!Oh!

    • 11:53

      SUSAN IMUS: Within the session earlier today Isaw an outcome that is really whatwe're looking for as dance movement therapists, whenwe provide and do this work for people in the communityand in prevention training.And this was the young man who wasrole playing as if he was a counselor entering into a room

    • 12:13

      SUSAN IMUS [continued]: with a student who was very isolated.And as he had been trained to do in the workshop,he is using his body to attune to the so-called student thatwas potentially suicidal.And as he was doing the exercise,you could see this young man's response of an aha, which

    • 12:36

      SUSAN IMUS [continued]: meant that he was aware that he was gaining knowledgefrom using his own body awareness in responseto the body signals he saw someone else.And that's exactly what we're trying to help people to do.Understand intrapersonally, through their own bodyawareness, and then work interpersonally

    • 12:58

      SUSAN IMUS [continued]: between people and in relationshipto gain knowledge and information of whatthat person's body is signaling that can give them informationto be able to respond in the best and most appropriateway that will really be effective to prevent suicide.

Dance Movement Therapy: Suicide Prevention Workshop

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Making Connections is a suicide prevention program that aims to identify risk factors, warning signs and protective factors against suicide. Workshop participants identify body signals and emotional states through dance movement therapy.

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Dance Movement Therapy: Suicide Prevention Workshop

Making Connections is a suicide prevention program that aims to identify risk factors, warning signs and protective factors against suicide. Workshop participants identify body signals and emotional states through dance movement therapy.

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