Dancing and How It Helps Me With Counseling

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Dancing and How It Helps Me With Counseling

We as therapists need to have a way to recharge our batteries on a regular basis.  It can be the difference between burnout and being able to have a career that is prosperous and sustainable.  If you’re wondering what you can do for fun that can be enlivening and restorative, you might consider dance as one possibility of having fun that could fit the bill.

The Need for Fun and Exercise All in One

It was some years ago I was visiting with my doctor while I was still in the teaching profession.  I was complaining of some issues with sleep and depressive symptoms.  I was thinking she was going to recommend some nutritional supplement or something else I could take that would help me feel better.  What she said surprised me, but it made a lot of sense.  She said that I should consider taking up dancing to help me feel better.  I’ve never been a patient that doesn’t follow my doctor’s advice, so I promptly started investigating local dance studios and options.  I had never done much social dancing and didn’t want to take up ballet or other types of performance dancing.  Alycia Burant talked about how important it is to try new things in one of her blog posts. Somehow I wound up taking country and western dancing at a local studio that was popular and affordable.  Soon I realized how much fun dancing was.  I had taken some classes years earlier, but it was just a class here and there.  I had also run for exercise, but found it pretty solitary, and this was something that helped me connect more with others.

Fast-forward to My Counseling Career and Dance Still Pays Dividends

I changed my particular dance focus in the last 10 years or so, from country western swing to contra dancing, but found I felt very similar after doing this to when I was in the old dance studio.  As much as doing therapy can feel isolating and lonely, I get a sense of connection and enjoyment with others that is very rejuvenating and helps offset the feeling of aloneness that can often be the bane of my work life.  I think this is part of the beauty of Slow Down School.  I had a hiatus for a few years while my wife was going through multiple surgeries and couldn’t dance. But I recently resumed with the local group and even went to a spiritual dancing event put on by one of my male friends.  I found it to be very invigorating and gave me a sense of connection with a group of relative strangers that was pretty astounding.

Movement As the Antidote to Sitting and Talking

If you think about it, when you are doing therapy with clients you’re probably sitting and talking.  When you dance, you may talk to others, but you’re moving.  You’re not sitting, you’re standing and moving.  The motion in therapy is in the verbal interaction and emotions that may come up, but in dance, it’s all physical motion.  That can be so refreshing and helps get one out of their heads, which I find myself in ALL THE TIME.  I think this is especially helpful for people who tend to think a lot.  This may not be your thing, but you do owe it to yourself to find some form of exercise you enjoy and is beneficial for your health.  I wish you the best in having fun and making your career something you can stick with as long as you so choose.  It’s so much better than the alternative!

Scott Kampschaefer, LCSW is a private practice therapist in Austin, Texas.  He has an extensive background in working with depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder at a clinic for older adults with these disorders in Austin.  He now works with adults and adolescents of all ages in private practice.