Voice Movement Therapy in the world
Beginning in the 1950’s and 1960’s, what is known as the Expressive Therapies - art, dance, drama, psychodrama and music therapy - came into existence, combining various forms of psychotherapeutic process with creative expression in different media. Becoming established as therapeutic disciplines in their own right, they also influenced therapeutic, educational, social work and community and counselling practices and contributed to the growing field of body-oriented psychotherapies.
Since that time, and with the advent of an increasingly global culture, the field known as world music, and the continuing development of various kinds of alternative therapies - vocal as well as verbal communication and exchange, the understanding of the emotional messages and psychological overtones expressed in the manner of vocalization as well as the message encoded in the words themselves, have all become increasingly important.
Voice Movement Therapy, grounded in anatomy and physiology and vocal acoustics as well as creative and therapeutic process, is perhaps the most comprehensive and teachable of the many types of therapeutic voicework that have appeared and is a fully-fledged therapy of and through the voice. When working with individuals with no language or severe language delays, it offers an experiential, person-centered approach that is different from the many assistive technologies now available. For people experiencing delays, injuries, or from a different cultural or ethnic background, it provides a way of communicating through an affective, non-verbal language. For people grappling with issues to which they need to give voice, it provides a way available to the self-identified non-singer and non-performer, as well as the active singer or speaker, for accessing the creativity which we all possess.
Registered practitioners have presented on Voice Movement Therapy at conferences such as The Annual American Dance Therapy Association Conference (Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN; 1994; Raleigh-Durham, N.C., 2001; Burlington, VT. 2002); The New England Expressive Therapy Conference; Center for Disabilities and Community Inclusion, University of Vermont, for individuals with severe and multiple handicaps; The Roy Hart Theatre Conference at the International Centre for the Voice in London, UK; IEATA in Cambridge, MA; at the annual conferences of the International Association for Voice Movement Therapy (IAVMT) and in various other medical, counselling, psychotherapeutic and arts-based conferences and forums. Four VMT practitioners sang and presented at the European Conference on Body-Oriented Psychotherapy in Vienna in October 2010.
At the present time, Voice Movement Therapy as a professional discipline is represented by the IAVMT, and senior practitioners teach on the VMTUSA and VMTSA (South Africa) Foundation Trainings. Trainees have received grants from government, civic and church organizations, as well as sponsorships from private individuals, to help defray expenses while on this program, and some have received college credits at established colleges and universities.
Various practitioners are demonstrating the efficacy of this work in health, welfare and educational programs by their individual efforts, and the work is becoming known. It is not necessarily easy to support oneself as a VMT practitioner, this being a very young discipline, but it is being done by practitioners who are resourceful and passionate about the work: by taking it into fields in which they are currently engaged; setting up their own practices; giving demonstrations in schools, clinics, alternative education and therapy organizations; working with people from other disciplines such as Speech/Language Pathology, Psychiatry and Psychology, Creative Arts disciplines, Early Childhood Education and suchlike; and generally finding ways to demonstrate the usefulness of the work. It is an exciting and growing field and there is a great deal of interest in it.
© 2000 Anne Brownell, MA, LMHC, VMTR.