One vital aim in therapy is relieving suffering. If there are recurring nightmares, chronic anxiety, physical and emotional pain or depression it is natural to yearn for relief. Often those suffering experience several of these symptoms. This situation can be likened to a stream which is clogged up with algae, silt and leaves so that the flow is restricted to a trickle. It is the flow of life energy, joy, ease and confidence which has been cut off. Therapy digs into the accumulated silt and starts to gradually remove the blockage.
Another key aspect of therapeutic work is capacity building. Reclaiming joy through creativity and physical activity, building social confidence, learning strategies to self-soothe. Resilience is fostered. The same analogy may help. This is like taking a powerful hosepipe filled with fresh clean water and flushing it through the stream. Gradually fresh water replaces the stagnant water which gets washed away. Increasingly there is new movement and clarity.
When relief of symptoms is the main focus are there any drawbacks?
Yes, identification. The person suffering may become identified with their problem, possibly self-involved or obsessive about it. Feelings of shame, stigma or inadequacy may even be intensified and there could be dependency on a particular therapist.
When capacity building is the main focus are there any drawbacks?
Yes, bypassing. In focusing on positive experiences it’s possible to bypass (ignore, deny) troublesome parts of the psyche which remain unintegrated. In ‘parts work’ these are sometimes called orphaned parts or exiles.
The ancient yin-yang symbol holds a lot of wisdom. When we see a polarity, such as two seemingly opposite approaches, they are usually complementary. Each supports and completes the other. We see that within the black area there is white and within the white area there is black. The polarities are intricately interwoven.
The Dancewise approach uses movement, music and dance both to ease symptoms and to build capacities. Whichever avenues of therapeutic work call to you, we advocate a yin-yang blend of symptom relief and capacity building.
- Stefan Freedman, January 2023