What is Voice Movement Therapy?
The human voice reflects both physical and psychic states and has the ability to convey both cognitive meaning and affective expression simultaneously. It is our primary mode of communication for both ideas and feelings and can move us with words and beyond words. It is the only instrument wherein player and played upon are contained within the same organic form and therefore can achieve its fullest expression when firmly grounded in the body. It has two main channels of communication: the words we say - the symbols we use to convey our cognitive message - and the way we say them - the tones and qualities of voice which express the emotional message underlying what we speak or sing.
Voice Movement Therapy (VMT) was conceived by Englishman Paul Newham, based on the pioneering methods of vocal facilitator Alfred Wolfsohn and influenced by the theatre work of actor and director Roy Hart; the acoustical analysis of otolaryngologist Dr Paul Moses; the characterological bodywork of Wilhelm Reich; and the psychological principles of C.G. Jung. It is the first in-depth Expressive Therapy which employs the human voice as its main modality and is readily communicable to people of different cultures and backgrounds. It is both creative and therapeutic in that it requires an exploration of oneself and one’s issues through the contours of the voice and through the creative enactment of one’s personal story in movement and song.
It requires of practitioners:
- the development and maintenance of a malleable and flexible voice and body through the application of the core principles of Voice Movement Therapy;
- the ability to improvise and create original work;
- the knowledge and skill to use massage techniques specifically designed to aid in the free expression of vocal sound;
- the knowledge and understanding to combine artistic and body-orientated skills with therapeutic principles; and,
- the ability to work with the singing and speaking voice from both a physical and a psychological point of view.
© 2000 Anne Brownell, MA, LMHC, VMTR.