5RHYTHMS® Movement Psychotherapy: the nuts and bolts of how it works.

While many people are familiar with the profound gifts of Gabrielle Roth’s 5RHYTHMS® movement practice and many more are familiar with the process of counselling and psychotherapy, it is not commonly understood how the two weave together fluidly for a deeper and more specific therapeutic outcome than either can offer separately.

As a 5RHYTHMS® mover for over ten years, I have always been aware of the therapeutic benefits of moving/dancing through a 5R Wave class. These classes are physically engaging, emotionally evocative, energetically stimulating and they build strong social bonds and community; truly a holistic, interconnected and healing activity.

My teacher, Andrea Juhan, founder of the 5RHYTHMS® Movement Therapy Training (5RMT) recognized the medicine of the 5R and its potential to enter the established healing practices of counselling/psychotherapy, social work and nursing.  Andrea, being one f a few  5RHYTHMS® teachers and counsellors, put together a specific training program to do just that for the benefit of  individuals, couples and small groups in the counselling or therapeutic setting. In addition to my regular counselling private practice in Victoria, BC I am one of a very few counsellors who have been specializing in this modality – for over 2 years.  I would like to share my understanding, development and experience of this sustainable and highly-effective counselling modality.

5RMT weaves Gestalt Awareness Practice (GAP), Integrative Body Psychotherapy (IBP) and 5RHYTHMS® movement with the traditional counsellor’s skills of empathic listening, skilled use of questions, reflection, psycho-education and an array of other specialized skills within the counselling field.

Gestalt Awareness Practice aims to increase personal awareness by exploring sensation, emotions, life situations and behavioral patterns and/or by practicing self-expression and communication through movement and voice. Investigating dreams is a very engaging part of this approach. Throughout, the motivation is developing the quality of awareness, moment to moment, and an ability to be present. A key element of this practice is the awareness and recognition of patterns within (body) and outside (behavior) of oursleves.  For example, the way I peel an orange is similar/identical in some qualitative way to how I do the rest of my life (i.e. work, relationships etc.) There is a universe inside a grain of sand or a cell body.  From a therapeutic perspective the skills of increased awareness, pattern recognition, somatic intelligence and an ability to remain present (integrated vs. dissociated/fragmented/scattered) are highly prized in the quest for healing and a healthier and happier life.  When we have increased somatic awareness of our patterns, we can recognize at a much earlier time when our old wounds are building energy or being triggered.  We can then intervene earlier when we have more probability of success for inviting change.  This is the first step of the therapeutic process.

Intergrative Body Psychotherapy (IBP)  is a unique non-invasive body-mind psychotherapy that shifts a client’s body-mind consciousness into highly integrated states of well-being, constancy and a core sense of self. The IBP therapeutic process enables the counsellor and client to identify and release the emotional/psychological/muscular holding patterns, born of emotional injury and conditioning, that prevent a client from attaining and sustaining these higher states of integration, authenticity and well-being. IBP also teaches clients the somatic and mental health tools they need to sustain these profound states, despite inevitable interruptions. As a result of IBP therapy, clients can experience themselves, others and the world around them differently, living in highly integrated states of well-being and out of their core sense of self.

A key element of IBP includes understanding the client’s “primary scenario”, that first childhood emotional wound  that formed the core pattern of how we felt and perceived the world from then on.  Ever wonder why we seem to be reliving similar/repeated experiences throughout our lives (some call it karma).  Those manifestations (abusive relationships, attracting conflict, being taken advantage of etc.) are external reflections of deep internal wounds that have not been healed.  Energetically, physically and emotionally these emotional/physical traumas attract a similar experience, person, job, injury/illness or challenge in our life, bringing it to our experience for resolution, completion and healing.  This is the opportunity for healing, yet all too often because of lack of awareness or a negative perception we see it as the universe treating us badly all over again, deepening and reinforcing the wound, instead of healing and transcending it.  Every time we miss an opportunity to heal that wound, rest assured it will return with more force, intensity and unpleasant consequences.  For some people those emotional wounds occurred before cognitive memory developed (pre-conscious) or even sooner in the womb.  The body, however, remembers!  So even though someone may not remember what happened to them as a child, by exploring sensate experience and developing somatic intelligence, the felt-sense of the wound can be accessed and healed in the present moment.  The “story” is not important other than helping the client to restory her/his life from a perspective of integration and healing. For people who are healing from deep traumas such as severe childhood abuse (physical or sexual) surgeries or illnesses requiring hospitalization and have blocked out the memories via dissociation, this type of counselling offers an access point into healing.  Cognitive memories are not required.

5RHYTHMS® movement offers the counsellor/counsellors and client a perspective in how to frame their experience/issue; a wave.  The 5 rhythms in sequence (flow, staccato, chaos, lyrical and stillness) comprise a wave; a full cycle that applies to almost anything – a breath, a relationship, a conversation . . . a lifetime.  Using this framework we can help people identify where in the sequence of the wave they are currently experiencing their issue and then identify the required medicine of the appropriate rhythm.  Each of the  5 rhythms, and its facilitated movements, has a resource available for shifting/releasing the old wounded pattern and creating  new vibrant, grounded and integrated patterns of internal (thoughts, feelings and sensations) and external (behavior, attractions and manifestations) change. By creating internal “felt-sense”changes of being/consciousness by developing somatic intelligence and resourcing and by using facilitated healing movements to evoke these changes, we allow the counsellor to facilitate real change in sessions so the client can leave with a real felt-sense of change in their body that can be integrated and generalized in out of session realms (relationships, jobs, etc.)  While the cognitive part of the mind knows the difference between practice and real life situations, the physiological somatic experience of the nervous system does not.  The counsellor has facilited real “body-memory” change (neuro-pathways)  in a controlled (successful) environment that will now also be accessible to the client the next time their old wound/pattern is triggered, now making it easier for the change to occur in a real life scenario.

Each of the  5 rhythms has its own internal and external resources or “medicine”.  While the subjective experience for each person will be complex and unique, each rhythm does share some similar and reliable possibilities.

In the rhythm of FLOW we are feeling the very first stirrings of movement within the wave – that first swell of energy within the wave. The building of energy, resourcing ourselves internally with breath and energy, grounding and rooting ourselves with balanced feet that can go with the flow: preparing and provisioning for the journey ahead.  Easefulness, fluidity, relaxation, continuous motion, spirals, circles and curves are all qualities of this rhythm (internally and externally); the energy of the feminine within us all.  In the rhythm of flow we learn to resource and care for ourselves first before embarking on our journey in life.  We learn how to self- soothe and nurture in times of challenge and stress so as not to be dependent on the external for our own happiness and healing – to not focus exclusively on changing things outside of our control. The rhythm of flow teaches us how to adapt and change in life while keeping rooted, balanced and resourced along the way; allowing us to keep moving even in those moments when externally,  life seems stuck.  For someone who feels paralyzed, stuck or powerless in life and with its circumstances or has trouble building or sustaining energy/effort in life, embodying flow can be good medicine.  Just as each rhythm has medicine it also has a “shadow“.  Drifting is not flowing and people who are too fluid, wishy-washy or accommodating will equally suffer.  Just like a river flows to a destination, a healthy flow has a direction and purpose even if consciously unknown in the moment.

The rhythm of staccato naturally rises from the energized, resourced and rooted momentum of flow. Staccato is about moving from the internal resourcing to the external directional goal – , movement towards something; from the flowing undercurrent of the wave into its rising form and shape.  This rhythm/movement is about clarity, lines, angles and edges, starts and stops, pulses.  In the external realm it is about  assertiveness, truth telling, integrity, setting and enforcing boundaries, authentic emotional expression, clear communication, following through from the place of internal authenticity evoked from flow. Someone who is indecisive, allows themselves to be taken advantage of or is dishonest, the rhythm of staccato might be prescribed.The shadow side of staccato can be aggressiveness (including passive-aggressiveness), violence, rigidity and excessive guardedness or impermeable boundaries – the inability to adapt and relate with others.

As we start to take a clear direction in course from the momentum of staccato, we start to feel the rumblings of the rhythm of chaos.  From this new place of clear and focused movement we come to realize that in order to fully actualize change and healing, we need to let go of old patterns, things, people and circumstances that no longer serve us in this new place. The wave finally reaches its peak in staccato and then falls and crashes into chaos.  The rhythm of chaos is all about letting go: letting go of held physical tensions and holding patterns in the body, letting go of old thoughts and limiting beliefs, letting go of our addiction to certain emotional states, letting go of relationships, jobs, homes, responsibilities etc.  Chaos is required for something new to arise or to be created in life.  If we want our lives to change, if we want real and sustained healing, we need to engage with and embrace chaos. Often times we  try to avoid chaos at all costs but what we are actually doing is just delaying it and increasing its intensity (and the severity of the unpleasant consequences) and limiting or stopping our ability to move through it in a supportive and positive manner.  We can learn to surf the wave or we can be overtaken by it – we have choice!  When chaos comes to us we need to embrace and engage it with all the resources of the previous rhythms, especially keeping our feet and rooted balance as we shake things off, discharge, release and surrender to what is required next in life.  Paradoxically, someone whose life seems fraught with perpetual crisis and problems would benefit from working in the rhythm of chaos to learn how to move with it instead of being devastated by it – to discern earlier on in the wave when change is required and gracefully accept it and surf the wave instead of the wave crashing down on them.  The shadow side of chaos is dissociation, fragmentation, extreme, risky, unsafe and/or impulsive behavior; being a danger to self and others due to their lack of stability and presence/awareness.

As we feel the freedom and spaciousness of letting go through a healthy chaos, we can then receive the light and playful possibilities that the rhythm of lyrical has to offer us.  Once the wave has crashed we get to play in the laughing and rolling foam as it heads to shore.  Through use of metaphor or direct movement we can invite the creative and new energy of lyrical to help us redefine, rediscover or create what is now needed.  Once we have made space by letting go of what no longer serves us, we can fill it with the spontaneous, playful and joyful possibilities of our new creation. Light and carefree, we effortlessly allow the next part of our lives to manifest in the moment; letting it happen instead of making it happen.  Riding the momentum of our impulses we bring in exactly what is needed for healing, creativity, joy and abundance in our lives.  When lyrical is taken to the extreme, the shadow side is about flightiness, pretension, unrealistic and magical thinking and not taking responsibility for our lives.

When we are full of lyrical creativity, we can then start to feel and listen for the new forms and shapes manifesting in our lives.  Just as molded clay starts to harden and take solid shape, in the rhythm of stillness we begin to feel, deepen and integrate this new shape (job, relationship with self or other, emotional state, belief etc.) As the rolling surf softens and settles it slowly and gently rolls up to the shore for that one moment of ending – stillness.  The shadow of stillness is numbness, paralysis, withdrawal and isolation.  In a full and healthy stillness, we feel for the pauses, the silences and the quiet truth of what we have just manifested and created at the end of this wave.  Accepting it deeply, fully for however long it lasts, before the first stirrings of the next wave begin to rise . . . again and again and again.

In part 2 of this article I will use an amalgamated case study of several clients’ experiences to describe the counselling process in specific detail and personal context.  Stay tuned!

Jim Kragtwyk M. Ed.

Registered Clinical Counselor (RCC)

Certified Addictions Counsellor (ICADC)

Victoria  BC Counsellors

Category : 5Rhythms &Counselling &Movement Psychotherapy

Surviving Your Relationship Breakup With Counselling

When a relationship starts to fail – whether it is a marriage, friendship or any relationship – we often feel shame and guilt and blame ourselves for letting it fail. And although it takes two to make a relationship and to keep it going we sometimes are blindsided by our emotions and feelings so that we don’t see the signs of deterioration until it is too late – and the relationship is broken. Continue reading “Surviving Your Relationship Breakup With Counselling” »

Category : 5Rhythms &Movement Psychotherapy

Movement Therapy Can Make That Career Change Possible

Do you feel like you are stuck in the same job that you have done forever and will never be able to do something that you really enjoy? Are you unhappy with your job but are afraid to venture out on a new and unfamiliar path? Have you lost your job and are scared to look for anything else but what you already know? Any of these questions might be what you are thinking – but you can get help to make that scary career change that will brighten your future and feeling better. Continue reading “Movement Therapy Can Make That Career Change Possible” »

Category : 5Rhythms &Movement Psychotherapy

How Dance Movement Psychotherapy Helps People with Substance Abuse Problems

With the theory that dance movement is often linked to a person’s patterns of feeling or thinking, many are now using dance as a way to assist people with substance abuse or other addiction problems. With new dance movements people experience changes emotionally thereby giving the psychotherapist a way to encourage different patterns of behavior. Continue reading “How Dance Movement Psychotherapy Helps People with Substance Abuse Problems” »

Category : 5Rhythms

5 Rhythms Workshop

“It has been a few days now, since Anne-Marie Hogya (5Rhythms Teacher) and I co-facilitated our first workshop together. While I could talk about a variety of external things that might justify it’s success and efficacy, in keeping  with the deep teachings of our practice, the best thing I can say about the process was that it “felt” really amazing while we were doing it.

As we are part of a co-created experience, this felt-sense of positivity was a reflection of the bigger group  experience. Of course watching people move, dance, smile, engage with each other and support each other’s
process also validated my perception of the workshop.

I was especially pleased to notice the impulse and spontaneity that arose in our facilitation. I feel like we were able to model and embody what we were trying to evoke in others – the ability to move our “wisdom into action” in a safe, contained, playful yet meaningful process of exploration and self-discovery.

My heart was warmed in the witnessing of seeing grounded, resourced and courageous participants engage with and playfully challenge the entities in their lives that try and stifle their healthy life impulses. Watching the smiles and movement, listening to the playful laughter and feeling the shift in the room when we did the “zombie” exercise (curious about this – ask me about it) confirmed that we were keeping the process safe and offering a new possibility in facing challenges.

I feel empowered and emboldened after facilitating this workshop with Anne-Maire. I feel so strongly and passionately about 5Rhythms Movement Psychotherapy and Dance and being part of this workshop has reinforced my deeply-felt truth about the efficacy, sustainability and powerful shifts that occur from them.

I look forward to hearing feedback from any of the participants or anyone who is curious/intrigued by this post.

Jim 🙂

Category : 5Rhythms

Momentum of Impulse 5Rhymthms Dance Workshop

Our deepest truths, our impulses, are not found within the intellect but within the body, heart and spirit. It takes attention and awareness to follow our inner impulses. We need to practice the momentum of impulse to have it flow freely in our lives. When we ride the momentum of impulse we create freedom, fluidity, and focus.

In this workshop, using the 5Rhythms moving meditation practice and 5Rhythms movement psychotherapy as our maps, we will explore the creative and healing impulses within us so that we can experience greater personal growth and change.

No previous 5Rhythms movement experience is needed.

Saturday May 2nd. 1:30 – 4:30 pm.
Euro Studios: 3rd Floor 1821 Cook St.
$65 Early Bird: $52 before April 24th.

Registration & more info: Anne Marie 250.857.0607

Poster HERE

Category : 5Rhythms &Workshops