Conclusion And Contraindications

As a dance/movement therapist who has applied movement analysis to the creative dance concept of shape, I use shape as an improvi-sational tool to make concrete the abstract notion of boundaries. However, you do not have to be a dance/movement therapist to introduce this exercise to members of your groups. Even therapists who are uncomfortable dancing can combine kinesthetic sensing and the simple movements described to access their sense of shape. In doing so, they literally embody the seemingly intangible concept of psychological boundaries, which is often so hard to explain. To be sure that you are comfortable with the task, follow the directions yourself before you give them to anyone else. You need to know how you respond to kinesthetic sensing, touch, and simple movement, particularly if you have group members who fear self-touch or have such distorted body images that they cannot separate themselves from their negative self-assessments. Since awareness of shape will help them in the long run, take the time to prepare them for the intervention as it has the potential to counter the somatic distortions that govern their lives.

As long as you attend to the affective, cognitive, behavioral, and developmental needs of group members, there are no obvious contraindications for engaging the shape to foster healthy boundaries. Once group members have identified the vulnerable spots in their boundaries (the holes in their seams), and sensed their shapes, they will be able to take more responsibility for their contributions, or lack thereof, in group. Therapists who can sense their shape will be better able to remain present and congruent.


Agazarian, Y. & Peters, R. (1981). The visible and invisible group: Two perspectives on group psychotherapy and group process. London: Routledge & Kegan. Fehr, S. (2003). Introduction to group therapy, (Second edition). Binghamlon, NY: The Haworth Press.

Fraenkel, D. (2003). Dance/movement therapy—The LivingDance approach. In S. Fehr, Introduction to group therapy: A practical guide (pp. 162-167). Bing-hamton, NY: The Haworth Press. Fraenkel, D. & Mehr, J. (2004). LivingDance-LivingMusic: Keeping your shape in shifting times. Proceedings of the American Dance Therapy Association 39th Annual Conference, New Orleans: American Dance Therapy Association. Franks, B. & Fraenkel, D. (1991). Fairy tales and dance/movement therapy: Catalysts of change for eating-disordered individuals. The Arts in Psychotherapy, 18, 311-319.

Gans, J. & Counselman, E. (1999). Silence in group psychotherapy: A powerful communication. International Journal of Group Psychotherapy, 50, 71-86. Minuchin, S. & Fishman, C. (1961). Family therapy techniques. Cambridge, MA:

Harvard University Press. Ryder, R., & Bartle, S. (1991). Boundaries as distance regulators in personal relationships. Family Process, 30, 393-406. Scott, A. (1993). A beginning theory of personal space boundaries. Perspectives in Psychiatric Care, 29, 2-21.

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