What is Authentic Movement?

At its heart, Authentic Movement is a way of knowing yourself better through a body-based process. It is based on the principles of Freudian free association, and Jungian active imagination; the best way to describe it is probably “embodied active imagination.” As in free association and active imagination techniques, participants pay attention to their internal impulses, fantasies, and dreams—but instead of verbalizing them, those impulses are embodied and moved.


Authentic Movement also functions on the belief that moving from an authentic impulse can create changes in the psyche, and that this movement must be in the presence of a witness who can contain the experience for the mover. Unconscious, unknown psychological material is made conscious through movement, and then made available for therapy through verbal processing after the movement period. This form of moving in the presence of another offers opportunities for a greater understanding of one’s own creative potential while directly addressing a basic human conflict between the desire for and the fear of being seen.


What does an Authentic Movement session actually look like?

Prior to the movement period, the movers and the therapist-witness(es) check-in verbally. This is the time for the movers to share with the group what they are coming in with that day: what they might be struggling with, what they might be excited about, and how they feel. Once everyone is checked in, the movers and therapist-witness(es) will agree upon a length of time to move. The movers will find a space in the room that feels right for them, close their eyes, and wait for an impulse to move. An impulse can come in the form of a memory, a body-felt sensation, a feeling, or an image. The therapist-witness(es) will generally sit in the corner of the room during the entire movement period.


During the movement period, all of the movers will move at the same time with their eyes closed. The therapist-witness(es) witness the movers as both individuals and as a part of a collective, tracking their own experience of witnessing the movers. Once the moving time is up, the therapist-witness will chime a singing bowl three times, indicating to the movers that the time has been reached. A verbal processing of the movement then occurs. The movers speak of their own experience in the movement space, stating not only what they did physically, but also how it felt emotionally and what images or sensations might have arisen. The therapist-witness(es) then respond from their own experience of witnessing the movement process unfold.


Do I need prior dance or movement experience to practice Authentic Movement?

No dance, movement, or yoga experience is necessary to fully participate in Authentic Movement. All that’s needed is just a curiosity about yourself, and an openness to learning by using your body.


Does this teach me how to dance?

In short, no, Authentic Movement will not teach you how to “dance” in the typical sense. You won’t learn dance steps, and you won’t learn how to bust a move at your cousin’s wedding. What you will learn is how your own body moves, how you prefer to move, and what those movements mean to you personally. You will develop a deeper connection to your own body, better understand your body-mind connection, and be able to integrate potentially upsetting thoughts or sensations. This might result in you having more confidence moving your body in the world and being more confident on a dance floor, but that’s not the ultimate goal or purpose of Authentic Movement.


Will people be able to see me move?

Even if you are practicing Authentic Movement in a group setting (such as our Monday evening group), the only people with their eyes open will be the therapist-witness(es). Everyone else will have their eyes closed.


What do I wear?

No shoes, no problem! Wear clothes you feel comfortable moving in, and that allow you to move freely. Most people wear yoga pants, sweat pants, or leggings and a t-shirt. We always recommend bringing layers (a sweater or scarf you can put on/take off as you get chilly or warm) and socks in case the floor is cold. No need for special “dance clothes.”