Thinking (and Moving) Outside the Box: Psychoanalytic Treatment and Dance Movement Therapy

March 1, 2016
Lecturers: Larry Sandberg, MD and Suzi Tortora EdD, LCAT

The central importance of the body in mental life is supported by a growing research literature in affective neuroscience that elucidates the primarily embodied nature of emotional experience and thought. Psychoanalysts have become increasingly attuned to somatic experiences and nonverbal modes of communication in the analytic situation where relative immobility is an important parameter. The frame is intentionally altered in Dance/Movement Therapy where attunement to bodily experience is a catalyst for a deepening exploration of psychic experience. We present clinical material combining psychoanalytic psychotherapy and Dance/Movement Therapy to illustrate the potential synergy of these modalities for certain patients. Clinical and theoretical implications regarding containment and free association are discussed.

Larry Sandberg is Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical Center and co-chair of the fourth year theory course in contemporary ideas in psychoanalysis at the Columbia Psychoanalytic Center. He is co-author of Psychotherapy and Medication: The Challenge of Integration.

Suzi Tortora has a dance/movement therapy practice in New York City and Cold Spring, New York. Dr. Tortora has published numerous papers about her therapeutic and nonverbal communication analysis work and a book titled The Dancing Dialogue.

Learning objectives: After the lecture, participants should be able to

  • Recognize clinical situations where “the talking cure” may be advanced by the introduction of body-based therapies.
  • Reevaluate the conventional meanings of the terms “containment” and “free-association.”