Tuesday 16 September 2014

The power of dance


Published 28/11/2013 | 05:26

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North Cork based HSE Mental Health Nurses Geraldine Buckley, Frances Hodnett, Eileen Murray, Monica Cleary, Margaret Keohane and Nancy Mooring getting into the flow at the North Cork Mental Health Services dance movement therapy workshop in Mallow recently.

PEOPLE in North Cork have always liked to dance, but a different kind of dancing at Mallow GAA Club has far-reaching benefits.

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PEOPLE in North Cork have always liked to dance, but a different kind of dancing at Mallow GAA Club has far-reaching benefits.

Here, staff and clients of the North Cork Mental Health Services moved, walked and swayed. They moved alone, or in twos, fours and in total there were 60 people who attended the event.

They began slowly to a gentle tempo and as the dancers let go and lapped up the music, some reached what was termed a "dizzying heights at a frenzied preseto."

The group conversed without talking but used gestures and they all moved at their own pace and without any structured steps or moves to follow. In the end they feel connected, that they know each other even though many are strangers.

Internationally renowned 5 Rhythms movement teacher Cathy Ryan who travelled from her base in London led the group in meditative movement. Five rhythms movement can be described as a form of moving meditation that puts the body in motion in order to still the mind.

A growing number of mental health professionals in North Cork are introducing dance movement therapy to their clients.

Eileen Murray, HSE Mental Health nurse in North Cork has 10 years dance therapy experience holds weekly sessions with her clients throughout North Cork and they are proving to be a very popular therapy for many clients. She works with hospital patients and clients living in the local communities.

"The benefits are self-evident with clients reporting how it improves their sense of well being and creates a sense of calmness and my colleagues are reporting similar gains, particularly with clients who did not engage with other forms of therapy," she said.

"They become more connected with their physical body and this, in turn takes the attention away from the thinking mind, which gives them a sense of both mental and emotional release."

One of the participants said: "Dancing for six hours scared me but I felt that I would give it a go. It was a very emotional experience. I knew nobody but it was not a problem as I felt there were many others in the same position."

Nancy Mooring, a community mental health nurse with the HSE in Kanturk holds sessions with patients suffering from acute mental health problems.

"At the beginning of the sessions, clients would have described themselves as being tense, anxious, nervous and afterwards reported to have been relaxed, calm, content with some expressing how they were relieved of their anger," Nancy said.

Mallow based Community Health Nurse Margaret Keohane also uses relaxing techniques with her clients if they are very agitated when she does her house calls.

HSE Consultant Psychiatrist, Dr Ann Payne at St Stephen's Hospital also participated in the workshop. "I certainly see the benefits in dance movement therapy. I think it would be a very useful adjunct for individuals who suffer from mental health issues from mild illness to severe and enduring mental health disorders."


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