Dance into the Unknown. A Heuristic Inquiry
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We live in a society that places great value on rational thought and verbal communication. This bias is embedded in mainstream approaches to mental health and wellbeing. However, increasingly contemporary psychotherapeutic understandings are recognising the value of non-verbal, body-oriented interventions and wellbeing practices, such as dance and movement. Neuroscience, relational psychotherapy and developmental theory are converging to recognise the need for such interventions for emotional regulation, developmental repair, trauma treatment and overall mind/body integration. This dissertation expands and illuminates the above knowledge through a heuristic inquiry into the researcher’s own lived experience of dance and movement. Utilizing the six stages of heuristic self-inquiry and core methods such as indwelling and self-dialogue, an in-depth investigation into the experience of these practices is undertaken. This is the idiosyncratic story of one woman’s “dance into the unknown.” The findings reveal that while internally driven improvised dance and movement can evoke unexpected and challenging emotional responses, it can also help to integrate mind and body, elevate mood, regulate emotions and enhance creativity and change. The study synthesizes and integrates these findings with current literature on this topic and psychotherapeutic understandings. Ultimately, this dissertation offers greater understanding of the ways in which dance/movement can improve mental wellbeing and potentially enrich clinical practice.