Reflections on my NEADTA keynote, part three.

I had the honor of being the keynote presenter for the annual conference of the New England chapter of the American Dance Therapy Association (NEADTA) this March. I have shared photo and video highlights in the post , Embracing Who We Are and I have offered reflections in the posts How We can Nurture our Growth and Vitality  and The Importance of Nurturing Ourselves as Therapists.

The conference theme was strengthening the development of self, practice and profession. After taking a look at the origins and development of dance/movement therapy to date, I turned to the question, “How can we nurture our growth and vitality, both individually and as a profession?”

In this post, I will share the last of three areas I highlighted:


Growth and development occur in relationship.

We are not born alone, and we don’t grow alone. Human development takes place in relationship, and so does professional development. Far too many therapists feel alone and have the sense of working in isolation – even (perhaps especially) when the workplace feels “busy”.

Consider how different you feel when you feel isolated versus connected. The impact reaches far beyond our own satisfaction/dissatisfaction to our ability to do effective work, to be creative in how we grow, and to give the quality and attention to our clients that they need.

We must prioritize the connections we have with each other and find creative ways to support and nurture our relationships. This might range from taking a few minutes in a staff meeting to breathe together, to attending workshops and conferences, to having an online or live cohort of peers for social or peer supervision gathering, to formal supervision or consultation.

When we join our individual gifts together, we ignite fireworks.

Magic happens in the human one plus one; we are far greater than the sum of our talents. When we collaborate with others, the gifts that we bring to our work are transformed into something entirely vaster and more valuable. Coming together also energizes us and offers us more to work with than we have alone.

Collaboration may be as simple as brainstorming a clinical situation or as extensive as creating a new program from the ground up. It might take the form of supporting each other by sharing poetry or clinical resources or even re-decorating a staff lounge.

Foster diversity, change and growth – within our fields and beyond.

When I was a child, we had an old orchard on the property. One of the trees was an apple-pear tree. Many years prior, someone had grafted a pear branch onto an apple tree. I thought this was the most marvelous and enchanted thing.

Support, sharing and collaboration are important both within our close circles and in the larger communities within which we practice. Among the creative arts and body-centered therapy communities alone, there is a vast amount of riches. If we can nurture this amongst our own connections, offer it to each other and to other groups of professionals, and be open to the treasures around us, we, and those with whom we work, will benefit tremendously.

In preparing for my keynote presentation, I found a paper I wrote in graduate school, now two decades old. At first I was struck by how much it still resonated with me, and then I noticed that there were other ways in which I had changed my perspective, values, and therapeutic approach significantly since then.

I hope that in another couple decades, I will find the same thing about how I practice now.

Being open to change and to letting go of old ideas and methods is challenging, and at times even painful, but it is also how we will continue to discover that the therapeutic world is not flat, and that the creative process is made up of both matter and energy.


I’d like to encourage you to take a moment to sit with what you’ve just read and allow yourself to consider ways in which you feel connected and the ways in which you don’t.

See if you can notice a way in which you would like to experience a greater sense of connection or collaboration and allow yourself to imagine what it would be like to foster that.

Allow yourself to be surprised and be curious about what you discover.

Notice what it feels like in your body when answers appear. Perhaps you feel energized or relaxed. Maybe you feel this in a particular part of your body. You may have a sense of clarity or flow or calm. You might feel something entirely different, or you might not notice anything at all.

Further exploration.

Some ideas for taking this exercise farther:

Draw or paint what you discovered in your basket

Make a collage of it with magazine pictures.

Journal or write poetry about it.

Share your discoveries with someone else.

Find a piece of music that captures your experience.

Dance to it. Invite someone else to dance with you.

The sky’s the limit, have fun, be creative.

I hope you will take some time in the upcoming days to savor what you have discovered and sink deeper into how you can nurture increased connection and collaboration for yourself.

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© 2015 Annabelle F. Coote, Body of Knowledge


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