Trauma and The Moving Body

Mar 14, 2019


Breakout Room #3


What is Trauma, and what does it look like? Theories about trauma and the body abound, most of them focusing on trauma as “not an event, but an experience that lives in the body.” In this workshop presentation, we will deconstruct what this really means in service of increasing our understanding of the effects of traumatic exposure on students. After the body registers a traumatic exposure, it immediately activates its own process of returning to a state of balance and equilibrium. If this is not possible, because of inadequate support, resources, and time to process, the trauma continues to reside in the body, and informs and shapes the individual’s perceptions and experiences. With childhood trauma, the transient states instigated by fear can carve pathways that may become permanent traits. The human body, as the site of all our experience no mater what age, culture, or context we come from, has inherent resilience. Because trauma imposes a “block” to the body’s innate ability to integrate experience, our movements, literally and metaphorically, change. We lose our beat and no longer move in the world in ways that are familiar. This disorientation can “freeze” the body in time and space and thus prevent or impair movement and subsequent reorganization. All of this affects our ability to learn, concentrate, relate and be present. Resilient bodies literally and metaphorically process life experiences fluidly. Research on neuroplasticity offers all of us – especially educators – wisdom regarding how we can guide and support students living in uncertainty, fear and trauma to “find their beat” again. This workshop offers participants a straightforward theoretical and scientific framework with which to understand how trauma can effect students in the classroom, at home, and in their lives. Practical, experiential processes and activities that can help students “move through fear” and promote safety in the classroom will form the applied component of this workshop.



Audience Takeaways:

An increased (or new) understanding of how exposure to trauma impacts the body, especially in children. Practical in-class movement and dance-based processes and activities teachers can use to address child trauma

  • Amber Gray




    ABOUT: Amber is a pioneer in the use of Dance Movement Therapy with survivors of interpersonal trauma, particularly torture, war, human rights abuses, and historical trauma. Amber’s expertise is represented in many published articles and chapters, keynote addresses, professional collaborations and presentations around the world. Amber has provided clinical training on the integration of refugee

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