Voice Movement Therapy
How can voice movement therapy nourish your soul?
Voice movement therapy is an expressive arts therapy that champions the voice as a means of self-expression. Since the voice is closely connected with emotions, it is influenced by physical and psychological circumstances. Conversely, restricting the voice has the effect of limiting one’s self, identity and self-expression.
The voice may be regarded as one of the most powerful instruments in the body. It has the unique ability to simultaneously reflect cognitive and emotional states, and is the default mode of communication for both ideas and feelings.
Voice movement therapy practitioners integrate vocal sound, movement, breathing, verbal processing, imagery, improvisation, song and other creative arts to help individuals explore, expand and embody their voice.
First developed by Paul Newham in the early 1990s, voice movement therapy is based on the pioneering work from several individuals across multiple disciplines. This includes Alfred Wolfson’s work on the human voice, Roy Hart’s experience in theatre, Paul Moses’ work as an otolaryngologist and the psychological work of Carl Jung. This therapy has since been further developed by several registered practitioners, and voice movement therapy is used in practice in multiple countries across the globe.
Voice movement therapy practitioners may become registered professionals after completing training and supervision that is approved by the International Association for Voice Movement Therapy (IAVMT).
Benefits of voice movement therapy
Voice movement therapy provides a platform for freeing and integrating the hidden, unexpressed aspects of the self through the voice. The unspeakable, edited parts of the psyche are given a safe passage to be heard and felt. As such, it may benefit anyone who wishes to enhance their self-expression and need to feel heard. Voice professionals such as singers, actors or teachers, as well as anyone who wishes to explore and develop their singing or speaking voice.
A scientific review provides evidence to suggest that embodied music therapies may provide several benefits for children with autism, as well as healthy adults and paediatric populations with neurological impairments. This includes improved communication, social-emotional skills, perceptuomotor skills and behavioural skills.
Voice movement therapy also shows promise as an adjunct therapy for individuals who self-harm. It has been reported in a clinical research study that voice movement therapy may improve emotional regulation, emotional awareness, self-esteem, anxiety and other symptoms related to social dysfunction.
Anecdotal evidence also suggests this therapy may be beneficial for anyone suffering from emotional or psychological issues around the use of the voice. Furthermore, Voice Movement Therapy may improve confidence and self-esteem, reduce performance anxiety, provide clarity and focus, and encourage self-acceptance.
Voice movement therapy may assist in relieving symptoms related to:
- Brain fog and clarity
- Circulation and cardiovascular conditions
- Communication and self-expression
- Concentration, focus and problem solving
- Confidence and self-esteem
- Mental health
- Mobility and movement
- Mood imbalances
- Speech and language issues
What to expect from a voice movement therapy session
Voice movement therapy is offered as individual one-on-one sessions, or as group therapy workshops.
An individual session will typically begin with a brief assessment of your vocal and personal history. This enables your practitioner to have a better understanding of your personal needs, intentions and unique vocal capabilities. While you may experience benefit from a single session, multiple voice movement therapy sessions are often recommended for real progress to be seen.
During the sessions, you will learn a variety of tools to use your whole voice for self-expression. This may include voice and movement exercises, imagery, songs, improvisation, creative writing, sharing and periods of silence. The ultimate goal for the practitioner is to tailor a specific program that will allow you to explore yourself more deeply and liberate you from restraints.
You do not need to be an experienced singer to participate in a voice movement therapy session. Simply the desire to sing and willingness to explore yourself is enough.
As with any exercise or wellness program, please consult your medical professional before commencing voice movement therapy. If you have an injury or other health issue, it is advisable to speak to your voice movement therapy practitioner who will be happy to address any concerns and tailor the session to your individual requirements.