This is Creative Arts Therapies Week, which has stirred up a tremendous amount of emotion for me. First of all, I know the vast majority of you are wondering, “What are creative arts therapies?” Creative arts therapists utilize a creative modality, such as art, dance/movement, drama, or music, to psychotherapeutically work with individuals, families, and groups, of all ages and abilities. For more information I invite you to check out this article: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/arts-and-health/201406/creative-arts-therapy-and-expressive-arts-therapy. In 2009, I received my master’s degree in dance/movement therapy. Dance/movement therapy, as defined by the American Dance Therapy Association, is “the psychotherapeutic use of movement to further the emotional, cognitive, physical and social integration of the individual.” For more information I invite you to check out: http://www.adta.org.
Now, for the second question on everyone’s mind, “Why all the emotions surrounding this week?” Well, for a brief period of time I worked as a dance/movement therapist, but I have since abandoned that line of work to fully invest in teaching yoga. It was not an easy decision, or one that happened over night. At the start of this year, I fully admitted to myself that I would not be going back into the field of dance/movement therapy in the foreseeable future. Prior to this admission to myself I had held onto a little thread of, maybe I’ll go back to that work. I invested a tremendous amount of resources into studying, training, and then becoming a dance/movement therapist. To finally admit that, while none of what I had done was a mistake or a waste, I would not be pursuing that career, was hard. Here’s the thing about clarity and honesty, they are not always pleasant or easy, sometimes they bring up a whole lot of stuff we weren’t quite expecting.
This week, as I find my social media news feeds inundated with pictures of and information on creative arts therapies, I have been constantly comparing myself to my former classmates and colleagues. (Theodore Roosevelt said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.”) I look at what they have accomplished in the field and compare it to my brief time working as a dance/movement therapist, which is downright ridiculous. I chose to take another path. I am happier teaching yoga than I ever was as a dance/movement therapist. And yet, I struggle to not view myself as a failure at times. I have to constantly remind myself that I, and the work I did, had nothing to do with the fact that I was laid off from my first permanent position as a dance/movement therapist. The hospital went bankrupt resulting in complete closure. I was quickly rehired as a temp at one of the city’s largest hospitals. I chose to walk away from that position for a number of reasons. I turned down interviews for positions and actual offers for work as a dance/movement therapist. I made clear choices. Still, I fear I have let down my former supervisors, mentors, and teachers, people I respect greatly and who dedicated a lot of their time to helping me. I am no longer truly a part of a community I still have a great deal of respect for. And, most importantly, this week has made me realize I am holding on to way too much emotional baggage surrounding choices I know were right for me, but were difficult to make and trust at times. It is time to start letting go of what was and fully embrace what is.
I started this year knowing that it was time to start letting go of things I have still been clinging to, subtly, but clinging nonetheless. I know that my ability to succeed in the ways I hope to means embracing what I currently do without fear or doubt. I have not made a mistake. Just as I did not make a mistake when I chose to get my master’s degree in dance/movement therapy and enter that field. I also did not make a mistake when I chose to leave the field. I still actively edit for students completing their masters’ theses in creative arts therapies and for creative arts therapists publishing articles in professional journals and chapters in books. In that way I am still connected to the community. I also utilize and integrate my dance/movement therapy training and experience into the way I teach yoga. I would not be the teacher I am today if it were not for the impact dance/movement therapy has had on me. For that I am grateful. Now to let the rest go…