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You had the chance to meet prof. Jill Bunce, PhD, from University of Derby, UK, earlier this year, at the 7th edition of The Conference of Experiential Psychotherapy and Unifying Personal Development. The participants had the opportunity to get knowledge of the relevance of dance and movement to psychotherapy within the lecture that prof. Bunce held, but also to participate to a workshop that she prepared for the event, “The significance of the body in dance movement psychotherapy”.

Dr. Jill Bunce has used dance as a community art form for many years, having graduating as a teacher and then attending the Laban Studio.  She developed her career to establish an Undergraduate Programme at Derby University in 2000, which is now thriving. She trained as a dance movement psychotherapist in 1991-1995, at the Laban Centre, and completed a piece of research which was published in the “Nameless Dread”, 2006.  In this book she completed a chapter on her work with Parkinson’s Disease.

She has worked as a dance movement psychotherapist with many different vulnerable people and also with people with autism, learning disability, dementia, conduct disorder, addiction and older people and children from ages 3-15.  She got her doctorate in 2008, on the development of a different ethos for Dance Education.

She has established a training course for Dance Movement  Psychotherapy at Derby University in 2010 and is now training post graduates as dance movement psychotherapists and has a creative, dynamic and experiential course. She has organised workshops and lectured in Finland, Russia, Greece, Spain and UK for the Parkinson’s Disease Society, specialist nurses, schools and colleges.

She completed, in 2012, a community research project with Staffs University and a dance consortium – Dance 123 BID. This was an investigation into the responses to an eating disorder and a creative imput through performance and workshops with adolescents.   This work has been published and has created a wide interest.

You will have the chance to meet Jill Bunce again next month (November 11-13), in Bucharest, where she will conduct the workshop „Dance and Movement Psychotherapy – steps, process, experiences”. For details on this workshop visit http://sper.ro/anunturi/anunturi-workshopuri/236-psihoterapie-prin-dans-i-micare-pai-proces-experiene-workshop-formativ-experienial-11-13-noiembrie-2016-bucureti


First of all, thank you for accepting our invitation to come to Romania, for participating at the 7th edition of the Conference of Experiential and Unifying Psychotherapy and Personal Development and also for sharing a part of your experience of over 30 years with our readers. You have worked as a dance/movement psychotherapist for many years and you are the leader of the Dance and Movement Psychotherapy Master‘s program at the University of Derby, UK. How did you become passionate about this domain and what were the reasons for initiating this Master’s program?

I have always been passionate about dance and when I was a teacher I became aware of the potential of dance and movement for emotional and social health. I became more passionate when I started my training and saw its potential for adults in various settings. Since then, I have seen that the process and the experience of moving and dancing enables the therapist and the client to be in touch with life at depth, allowing the mind and the body to unite in order to generate change in our perceptions and personal behaviour.

Dance movement psychotherapy is a  complex domain and it is approached differently by professionals, depending on their academic and cultural background. How do you define dance movement psychotherapy and what are the main competences that a dance movement psychotherapist should possess, in your opinion?

Dance movement psychotherapy gives and enables a person a means of experience which links the body and mind and informs the perception and world view of the therapist and client. This is experienced through movement and dancing and the choreography of human expressiveness and relationships. We use movement and dance, which is expressed through the engagement of one human to another.

It is well-known that movement and dance have positive effects on our everyday life. However, they are not used that often as healing tools in the psychotherapeutic process. What are the advantages of using dance/movement as a therapeutic approach?

The advantages are that there can be a use of the non-verbal means of communication and the unconscious and the conscious thoughts are expressed through movement and the dance of human relationships. How much do we use a smile? Who taught us to smile? Who leads or follows in a relationship? Like the birds, we move and mirror each other, but we also attack and defend through our bodies. We also use dance as a social means of relation and we mark our rites of passage through it too.


One of your areas of expertise is working with people suffering of Parkinson disease. Which are the main effects of DMP on this particular population?

So far, it has been linked to the development of control and management, but there seems to be a link between increased motor control and the management of the psychiatric aspects of the illness too.

You travel a lot facilitating DMP workshops in many countries in the world because you enjoy discovering new cultures and teaching. How was your experience of collaborating with Romanian people? Were there any challenges for you?

I enjoyed the experience because I am always learning. Each culture has many roots and these roots have movement signatures. The challenges were to follow their needs and not my own, but also to inspire but not to patronize and to elicit their underlying needs.


As a professional and also a participant at your workshop at the SPER conference this year, I noticed an interesting aspect of your way of working with movement: you don’t use music. The reason for that is that you want to avoid manipulating the participants’ mood through music (it is well known that music can determine the way you feel, or even hide the client’s disposition, influencing the process of self-awareness, as Flavia Cardaş affirms in an interview for SPER Publishing – https://editurasper.wordpress.com/2016/08/07/flavia-cardas-este-in-instinctul-nostru-sa-dansam-iar-educatia-ar-trebui-sa-ia-mai-mult-in-considerare-acest-aspect/) and make them contact their inner music, which they are encouraged to express through movement. Realizing the true usefulness of that approach – one that the Romanian specialists are not familiarized with -, can you detail your psychotherapeutic approach and the benefits that your clients get from the DMP process?

I do use music, but we often move or dance to music but not reach the rich experience of what movement can offer. A baby does not need music, but an adolescent might. What is the reason? My approach is to be open to as many possibilities and not to close the process down, and that it is about the relationship. The depths of the unconscious has its own logic.

The dance therapist profession is not acknowledged in Romania, also the information about the efficiency of this type of therapy and the use of DMP in individual sessions are not very substantial. There aren’t any Master’s programs focused on DMP (although dance therapy is studied at SPER School and within the Experiential Psychotherapy of Unification Master’s – University of Bucharest, and until this moment only one PhD thesis validated DMP in experiential approach – Univ. lecturer Florin Vancea, with the guidance of Prof. Iolanda Mitrofan, PhD, and another is in the validation stage (psychologist Flavia Cardaș, under the same guidance). Tell us more about the status of a dance movement psychotherapist in the UK, Europe and worldwide!

It is a growing profession and we need to develop the practice so that it becomes more mainstream.

Why would you recommend participating or training in dance movement psychotherapy?

Because I have participated in the process and I have seen people’s lives transformed by the process. I can say that its effects will be visible not only on the professional level – which means having access to a conceptual and practical structure -, but also regarding personal aspects.


We are glad that you accepted once again our invitation to facilitate a workshop for the Romanian professionals. What is the main objective of your workshop?

The main objective is to share some of the awareness and practice and to assist in its development in Romania so that you can benefit from the profession and some of the awareness that it develops and promotes.

Thank you for your time! We are looking forward to seeing you again in November! Until then, please send our readers and Facebook friends a message!

I hope to see you at the workshop and I hope you will come with many questions and be willing to participate.

(An interview by psychologist Sorina Dumitrache, PhD, translation – psychologist Flavia Cardaș, PhDs)