by Allison Bell, Psy.D and Michele Gargan, Psy.D
Have you ever noticed that the language that we use to express some of our strongest feeling states and reactions makes reference to the body?
“I have a gut reaction to that”
“My boss is a pain in the neck/butt/ass”
“I feel like I’m carrying the weight of the world on my back”
Did you ever wonder why we express ourselves this way, or how it is that everyone knows exactly what we mean by such statements
All body movement is communication. Our bodies are constantly in motion, even when we are sitting still. Most people are unaware of the power, subtlety, variety, and contradictions conveyed in the messages they project in every interaction. This is because most people are unaware of the wealth of information their bodies are revealing to themselves about their own attitudes, reactions, judgments, and feelings moment by moment, whether they are alone or with others. Neuroscience tells us that there is a constant flow of information among all the cells in our bodies. Tuning in to this flow of information is the basis of effective communication. Effective communication is not solely expressed in words, and is not merely an outgrowth of how we ‘think’. Research has identified neuropeptides–“molecules of emotion”–as the path of communication between the mind and the body. These molecules are not only in the brain, but they are also plentiful in the entire body. So, feelings are not experiences of mind but are body states. The gateway into the expression of feelings, attitudes, and judgments is not necessarily best sought through the mind, but may be better designed when accessed through the bodyBody Language training must go deeper than merely working on posture, gesture, facial expression, eye contact, proximity, and other commonly taught “correct” uses of the body in communication. It takes awareness of the basic elements of body movement and knowledge of one’s own movement affinities to utilize and expand one’s range of body language. The goal is genuineness and flexibility in communication, to slow down and become more observant of self and other, and to consciously align thought, feeling and action.
Body language training begins as body-to-body dialogue in parent-infant interaction, where the parent facilitates the infant’s information processing without words. The mode, the amount, the variability, and the timing of stimulation become a language in itself and sets the stage for lifelong reciprocal nonverbal communication with others. This experience, begun in infancy and carried through the lifespan, is the platform upon which humans develop a sense of themselves.
Just as there is vocabulary and syntax in verbal communication, there is vocabulary and syntax in body language. All effective language requires a broad vocabulary, logical syntax, fluid phrasing, connections and transitions, and appropriateness of diction. These can be taught, practiced, and developed in both the verbal and non-verbal realms. Approximately 70% of all expressed and perceived communication derives from body language, which has led us to develop a series of movement workshops designed to be a ‘Language Arts’ course for the body.
Participants will discover their own movement affinities using the basic elements of weight, space, time, and flow. They will begin to expand beyond the limits of their individual movement repertoires and explore the use of the body in:
Coping with the environment
Joining with others and collaborating on a team
Presenting and clarifying information
Negotiating and persuading
Solving problems creatively
This workshop series is a synthesis of movement theory systems— long used by dancers and movement therapists—with up-to-date neuroscience research and behavioral science principles, including interpersonal dynamics, group theory, social psychology, and cognitive-behavioral techniques. Workshops vary in length from 1 ½ hours to a full weekend retreat experience.
Allison Bell, Psy.D
Michele Gargan, Psy.D
We each have a master’s degree in dance/movement therapy and a doctoral degree in clinical psychology. We have each enjoyed dance and movement as an avocation and a profession since childhood. We each have thirty years of clinical experience in hospitals, outpatient settings, and private practice. We have taught, coached, and conducted research. We can best describe ourselves as Scientist/Practitioner/Artist.