BSP Podcast: Mary Coaten on Dance Movement Psychotherapy

podcast update

This episode of the BSP Podcast sees Mary Coaten presenting a paper from our 2020 annual conference, ‘Engaged Phenomenology’ Online.

Season 5 episode 125: 16 October 2021

Season five of our podcast continues with another presentation from our 2020 annual conference: ‘Engaged Phenomenology’ Online. This episode features a presentation from Mary Coaten, Durham University.

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Mary Coaten
‘Dance Movement Psychotherapy in Acute Adult Psychiatry: Psyche and Dasein’

ABSTRACT: My paper explores doctoral research on the therapeutic mechanisms of Dance Movement Psychotherapy (DMP) in an in-patient setting for acute adult psychiatry through the qualitative dynamics of movement and the symbolic and metaphoric processes present. Previous research has focussed on the efficacy of DMP in relation to psychosis spectrum disorders, but little on the mechanisms, especially the role of the moving body within phenomenological approaches. I drew on the phenomenological tradition through Heidegger and Jung, utilising similarities between the two to develop ideas about body movement, space and time. For Brooke (1988), Jung and Heidegger understood the body as the incarnation of psychological life and not as the meaning-less body of anatomy; they saw psyche and dasein as spatial, viewing distance and closeness as lived realities, and not merely in absolute time which they both argued is a limited abstraction from lived reality. “Jung’s method is primarily hermeneutic-phenomenological; the psyche is not “mind” or an inner realm more or less linked to the body, but is the embodied life world, and Jung’s descriptions of it – of its autonomy, spatiality and bodiliness, for instance – achieve ontological clarity when it is articulated as Dasein.” (Brooke, 1988:ii). The results demonstrated an altered sense of space and time and a specific imbalance in engaging with the future and the past. The study revealed gender differences in the use of space and sense of self. Both men and women’s movement lacked structure, a lack compensated for through my movements. Participants expressed their sense of self differently by gender. The men engaged more with one another as a group and women focussed more on the individual bodily self. Symbolic and metaphoric communications indicated a relationship between an altered sense of space and time, and the movement dynamics present acted synchronistically with the symbols and metaphors.

BIO: I am a dance movement psychotherapist (DMP) with a special interest in psychosis and have recently completed my doctoral thesis at Durham University which explored the therapeutic mechanisms at play in the acute psychotic episode. For the past 15 years, I have delivered DMP groups within the acute inpatient mental health setting. My work is informed by a Jungian and phenomenological framework which highlights an embodied approach to psychopathology. I also work as a DMP within an outpatient psychological therapies team with a trauma focus.

This recording is taken from the BSP Annual Conference 2020 Online: ‘Engaged Phenomenology’. Organised with the University of Exeter and sponsored by Egenis and the Wellcome Centre for Cultures and Environments of Health. BSP2020AC was held online this year due to global concerns about the Coronavirus pandemic. For the conference our speakers recorded videos, our keynotes presented live over Zoom, and we also recorded some interviews. Podcast episodes from BSP2020AC are soundtracks of those videos where we and the presenters feel the audio works as a standalone.

The British Society for Phenomenology is a not-for-profit organisation set up with the intention of promoting research and awareness in the field of Phenomenology and other cognate arms of philosophical thought. Currently, the society accomplishes these aims through its journal, events, and podcast. Why not find out more, join the society, and subscribe to our journal the JBSP?