Tichi Wilkerson Kassel
Movement Therapy Foundation
Promoting Better Health Through Movement Therapy™
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The term Movement Therapy™ is often associated with dance therapy. Some dance therapists work privately with people who are interested in personal growth. Others work in mental health settings with autistic, brain injured and learning disabled children, the elderly, and disabled adults.

Laban Movement Analysis (LMA)

Laban movement analysis (LMA), formerly known as Effort-Shape is a comprehensive system for discriminating, describing, analyzing, and categorizing movements. LMA can be applied to dance, athletic coaching, fitness, acting, psychotherapy, and a variety of other professions. Certified movement analysts can "observe recurring patterns, note movement preferences, assess physical blocks and dysfunctional movement patterns, and the suggest new movement patterns." As a student of Rudolf Laban, Irmgard Bartenieff developed his form of movement analysis into a system of body training or reeducation called Bartenieff fundamentals (BF). The basic premise of this work is that once the student experiences a physical foundation, emotional, and intellectual expression become richer. BF uses specific Movement Therapy™ that are practiced on the floor, sitting, or standing to engage the deeper muscles of the body and enable a greater range of movement.

Authentic Movement (AM)

Authentic movement (AM) is based upon Mary Starks Whitehouse's understanding of dance, movement, and depth psychology. There is no movement instruction in AM, simply a mover and a witness. The mover waits and listens for an impulse to move and then follows or "moves with" the spontaneous movements that arise. These movements may or may not be visible to the witness. The movements may be in response to an emotion, a dream, a thought, pain, joy, or whatever is being experienced in the moment. The witness serves as a compassionate, non judgmental mirror and brings a "special quality of attention or presence." At the end of the session the mover and witness speak about their experiences together. AM is a powerful approach for self development and awareness and provides access to preverbal memories, creative ideas, and unconscious movement patterns that limit growth.

5 Rhythms Movement

Gabrielle Roth (5 Rhythms movement) and Anna Halprin have both developed dynamic movement practices that emphasize personal growth, awareness, expression, and community. Although fundamentally different forms, each of these movement/dance approaches recognize and encourage our inherent desire for movement.

Rolfing movement integration (RMI)

Several forms of Movement Therapy™ grew out of specific bodywork modalities. Rolfing movement integration (RMI) and Rolfing rhythms are movement forms which reinforce and help to integrate the structural body changes brought about by the hands-on work of Rolfing (structural integration). RMI uses a combination of touch and verbal directions to help develop greater awareness of one's vertical alignment and habitual movement patterns. RMI teacher Mary Bond says, "The premise of Rolfing Movement Integration ... is that you can restore your structure to balance by changing the movement habits that perpetuate imbalance." Rolfing rhythms is a series of lively Movement Therapy™ designed to encourage awareness of the Rolfing principles of ease, length, balance, and harmony with gravity.


The movement education component of Aston-Patterning bodywork is called neurokinetics. This Movement Therapy™ teaches ways of moving with greater ease throughout every day activities. These movement patterns can also be used to release tension in the body. Aston fitness is a Movement Therapy™ program which includes warm-up techniques, movement sequences to increase muscle tone and stability, stretching, and cardiovascular fitness.

Rosen Method Movement

Rosen method movement (an adjunct to Rosen method bodywork) consists of simple fun Movement Therapy™ done to music in a group setting. Through gentle swinging, bouncing, and stretching every joint in the body experiences a full range of movement. The movements help to increase balance and rhythm and create more space for effortless breathing.


The movement form of Trager psychophysical Integration bodywork, Mentastics, consists of fun, easy swinging, shaking, and stretching movements. These movements, developed by Dr. Milton Trager, create an experience of lightness and freedom in the body, allowing for greater ease in movement. Trager also worked successfully with polio patients.

The Feldenkrais Method

Awareness through movement, the Movement Therapy™ form of the Feldenkrais method, consists of specific structured movement experiences taught as a group lesson. These lessons reeducate the brain without tiring the muscles. Most lessons are done lying down on the floor or sitting. Moshe Feldenkrais designed the lessons to "improve ability ... turn the impossible into the possible, the difficult into the easy, and the easy into the pleasant."


“The living body is a moving body - indeed, it is a constantly moving body.” -Thomas Hanna

“A living body is not a fixed thing but a flowing event, like a flame or a whirlpool.” -Alan Watts


There are countless approaches to Movement Therapy™. Some approaches emphasize awareness and attention to inner sensations. Other approaches use movement as a form of psychotherapy, expressing and working through deep emotional issues. Some approaches emphasize alignment with gravity and specific movement sequences, while other approaches encourage spontaneous movement. Some approaches are primarily concerned with increasing the ease and efficiency of bodily movement. Other approaches address the reality of the body "as movement" instead of the body as only something that runs or walks through space.

Movement Therapy™ is being studied more intensively as a useful adjunct to rehabilitation programs for victims of stroke or spinal cord injuries.  Some neuroscientists are studying patients with spinal cord injuries to test the hypothesis that movement itself can cause damaged nerves to regenerate. Another important benefit of Movement Therapy™ that is increasingly recognized by mainstream as well as alternative practitioners is social support. Many people, particularly those suffering from depression related to physical illness or other forms of stress, find that taking a yoga class or other group form of Movement Therapy™ relieves feelings of loneliness and isolation. People who have taken therapeutic riding have reported that the positive relationship they develop with their horse helps them relate better to other animals and to people.


Ideokinesis is another movement approach emphasizing neuromuscular reeducation. Lulu Sweigart based her work on the pioneering approach of her teacher Mabel Elsworth Todd. Ideokinesis uses imagery to train the nervous system to stimulate the right muscles for the intended movement. If one continues to give the nervous system a clear mental picture of the movement intended, it will automatically select the best way to perform the movement. For example, to enhance balance in standing, Sweigart taught people to visualize "lines of movement" traveling through their bodies. Sweigart did not train teachers in ideokinesis but some individuals use ideokinetic imagery in the process of teaching movement.

The Mensendieck System

The Mensendieck system of functional movement techniques is both corrective and preventative. Bess Mensendieck, a medical doctor, developed a series of Movement Therapy™ to reshape, rebuild and revitalize the body. A student of this approach learns to use the conscious will to relax muscles and releases tension. There are more than 200 Movement Therapy™ sequences that emphasize correct and graceful body movement through everyday activities. Unlike other Movement Therapy™ approaches this work is done undressed or in a bikini bottom, in front of mirrors. This allows the student to observe and feel where a movement originates. Success has been reported with many conditions including Parkinson's disease, muscle and joint injuries, and repetitive strain injuries.

The Alexander Technique

The Alexander Technique is another functional approach to Movement Therapy™. In this approach a teacher gently uses hands and verbal directions to subtly guide the student through movements such as sitting, standing up, bending and walking. The Alexander technique emphasizes balance in the neck-head relationship. A teacher lightly steers the students head into the proper balance on the tip of the spine while the student is moving in ordinary ways. The student learns to respond to movement demands with the whole body, in a light integrated way. This approach to movement is particularly popular with actors and other performers.

Eastern Movement Therapies

Such Eastern movement therapies as yoga, t'ai chi, and qigong are also effective in healing and preventing a wide range of physical disorders, encouraging emotional stability, and enhancing spiritual awareness. There are a number of different approaches to yoga. Some emphasize the development of physical strength, flexibility, and alignment. Other forms of yoga emphasize inner awareness, opening, and meditation.

Source - WebMD

Equine-Assisted Therapy

More recently, a form of Movement Therapy™ that involves horses has gained fresh attention. It is variously known as therapeutic riding or equine-assisted therapy. Therapeutic riding originated with a Swedish horsewoman who lost her ability to walk when she contracted polio in 1946, and was determined to recover by returning to horseback riding. She eventually won a silver medal in the 1952 Olympics. Therapeutic riding programs allow persons with physical, psychological, or learning disabilities to gain self-esteem and social growth as well as improved balance, body awareness, and physical strength.

Continuum Movement

Continuum movement has also been shown to be effective in treating neurological disorders including spinal chord injury. Developed by Emilie Conrad and Susan Harper, continuum movement is an inquiry into the creative flux of our body and all of life. Sound, breath, subtle and dynamic movements are explored that stimulate the brain and increase resonance with the fluid world of movement. The emphasis is upon unpredictable, spontaneous or spiral movements rather than a linear movement pattern. According to Conrad, "Awareness changes how we physically move. As we become more fluid and resilient so do the mental, emotional, and spiritual movements of our lives."

Body-Mind Centering (BMC)

Body-mind centering (BMC) was developed by Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen and is a comprehensive educational and therapeutic approach to movement. BMC practitioners use movement, touch, guided imagery, developmental repatterning, dialogue, music, large balls, and other props in an individual session to meet the needs of each person. BMC encourages people to develop a sensate awareness and experience of the ligaments, nerves, muscles, skin, fluids, organs, glands, fat, and fascia that make up one's body. It has been effective in preventing and rehabilitating from chronic injuries and in improving neuromuscular response in children with cerebral palsy and other neurological disorders.

Kinetic Awareness

Kinetic awareness developed by dancer-choreographer Elaine Summers, emphasizes emotional and physical inquiry. Privately or in a group, a teacher sets up situations for the student to explore the possible causes of pain and movement restrictions within the body. Rubber balls of various sizes are used as props to focus attention inward, support the body in a stretched position and massage a specific area of the body. The work helps one to deal with chronic pain, move easily again after injuries and increase energy, flexibility, coordination, and comfort.

Gerda Alexander Eutony (GAE)

Gerda Alexander Eutony (GAE) is another Movement Therapy™ approach that is based upon internal awareness. Through GAE one becomes a master of self-sensing and knowing which includes becoming sensitive to the external environment, as well. For example, while lying on the floor sensing the breath, skin, form of the body, one also senses the connection with the ground. GAE is taught in group classes or private lessons which also include hands-on therapy. In 1987, after two years of observation in clinics throughout the world, GAE became the first mind-body discipline accepted by the World Health Organization (WHO) as an alternative health-care technique.

Sensory Awareness (SA)

Many approaches to Movement Therapy™ emphasize awareness of internal sensations. Charlotte Selver, a student of somatic pioneer Elsa Gindler, calls her style of teaching sensory awareness (SA). This approach has influenced the thinking of many innovators, including Fritz Perls, who developed gestalt therapy. Rather than suggesting a series of structured movements, visualizations, or body positions, in SA the teacher outlines experiments in which one can become aware of the sensations involved in any movement. A teacher might ask the student to feel the movement of her breathing while running, sitting, picking up a book, etc. This close attunement to inner sensory experience encourages an experience of body-mind unity in which breathing becomes less restricted and posture, coordination, flexibility, and balance are improved. There may also be the experience of increased energy and aliveness.


Pilates or physical mind method is also popular with actors, dancers, athletes, and a broad range of other people. Pilates consists of over 500 movement therapy sequences done on the floor or primarily with customized movement therapy equipment. The movement therapy™ sequences combine sensory awareness and physical training. Students learn to move from a stable, central core. The movement therapy™ sequences promote strength, flexibility, and balance. Pilates training is increasingly available in sports medicine clinics, fitness centers, dance schools, spas, and physical therapy offices.

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Watsu is a profoundly relaxing aquatic Movement Therapy. It combines the therapies of gentle stretching, acupressure, and Shiatsu massage while being floated in warm water.

Watsu uses the lightness of the body in water to free the spinal vertebrae, rotate joint articulations and elongate muscles. These rhythmic, "dance-like" movements are performed in harmony with breathing patterns to stimulate the natural regeneration of the body and mind.  While other modalities are based working on tables or mats, you are completely supported by the practitioner. Floating in warm water can immediately calm the nervous system and reduce stress and anxiety.  The massage becomes less like therapy and more like dance.

When the whole body is in continual movement, each move flowing gracefully into the next, there is no way to anticipate what's coming next and build up resistance.  Being gently floated, stretched, snaked and cradled in 96 degree water, new life is infused into long neglected connective tissue and the restricted body is shown new possibilities of freedom. Flow onto a level of being where motion is paired with peace.  Tension and or trauma can no longer overwhelm you.  Long term benefits can improve sleep patterns, increase range of motion and improve healing and immune system responses.  Immediate benefits with the first session include increased range of motion, muscle relaxation, as well as decreased muscle spasm and pain.

Circular Strength Training  (CST)

Circular Strength Training synergistically fusing joint mobility, club swinging and flow yoga, developed by movement guru and international martial arts hall of fame celebrity flow coach, Scott Sonnon.  

CST is the “flagship” professional certification course at RMAX International, a 20+ hour training examination conducted throughout the 3-day Instructor Certification Seminar. CST was pioneered by Scott Sonnon, and continues to build on his insights to evolve an ever more refined, coherent, cohesive and comprehensive approach to becoming a movement specialist. CST has rapidly emerged as a leader among the premier training modalities in the health / fitness and strength / conditioning arenas.

CST uses a total “vocabulary” of joint mobility drills to ship nutrition, lubrication and shock absorption to the active joints for optimal efficiency, rapid recovery, and pain and injury prevention. Unlike pathologically-based mobilization methods which are based upon a “trauma lens” of movement, CST is based upon developmental neurophysiology for the organization of joint mobility drill sequencing called Intu-Flow® (”intuitive flow”).

CST uses the “toolbox” of body-weight movements (from yoga to martial arts) in order to “clean the slate” of the over-specializations (compensations) which result from life, injury, attitude and each and every successful exercise/skill performed in a prior cycle. Named Prasara Flow Yoga, this Compensatory Movement™ Technique unloads the functional opposite of any repeated movement in order to preserve benefits and prevent drawbacks.

CST involves more than mere compression to stimulate adaptation in progressive resistance. Clubbell® swinging - the oldest fitness tool and the first martial art in ancient Russia, Persia and India - combines traction to strengthen not just muscle but also connective tissue protecting the joints while building strength. In addition, since the Clubbell is swung, torque allows force production to increase exponentially rather than arithmetically; instead of adding plates (conventional resistance training), the displaced center of mass swung twice as fast produces four times the force.

U.S. Paralympics

U.S. Paralympics, a division of the U.S. Olympic Committee, is dedicated to becoming the world leader in the Paralympic sports movement and promoting excellence in the lives of people with physical disabilities. 

Since its formation in 2001, U.S. Paralympics has been inspiring Americans to achieve their dreams.  Through education, sports programs and partnerships with community organizations, medical facilities and government agencies, U.S. Paralympics is making a difference in the lives of thousands of people with physical and visual disabilities every day. 

PMTD by Flexiciser

Flexiciser, Inc is a leading manufacturer and marketer of Physical Movement Therapy Devices, a unique durable medical equipment technology designed to provide movement for mobility challenged clients from all over the world.  It is the only technology that offers a natural walking stride, moving arms and legs simultaneously in 3 modes of operation with no weight bearing impact. The technology is comparable with multiple devices such as wheelchair or scooter with no transfer required.

Marked Dance Project

Marked Dance Project was created in March of 2009 by Artistic Director Mark Travis Rivera.

The purpose of marked dance project is to expose the art of dance to all individuals. This modern based mixed abilities dance company includes dancers with and without disabilities. Through community outreach, performances, classes and workshops we mold and enhance artistic abilities, while fostering compassion and understanding among the community .


The National Wheelchair Basketball Association (NWBA) is comprised of over 200 basketball teams across twenty-two conferences and seven divisions. The NWBA was founded in 1948, and today consists of men's, women's, intercollegiate, and youth teams throughout the United States of America and Canada.

Wheelchair Paragliding

Don Bloswick was approached by Mark Gaskill, the vice president of the United States Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association, in December 2009 about designing a wheelchair for the Able Pilot chapter of the organization. He envisioned a wheelchair that would allow any wheelchair-bound person to independently take up the sport of paragliding.

"I love this sport," said Gaskill, who helped form the Able Pilot chapter of the USHPA last year. "I'm looking forward to getting these guys through the program and into the air. There are a lot of adaptive sports out there, but wheelchair basketball may not appeal to all of the personalities. This is a very social sport."

Bloswick was intrigued by Gaskill's offer and asked a group of senior engineering students if any of them were interested in taking on the challenge — in addition to their regular course work, senior projects and family commitments.

Now the one-of-a-kind chair will offer paraplegics the chance to do what many able bodied people haven't done.

Gaskill said the ability to paraglide will offer those confined to a wheelchair the same freedom he has in the air. In addition to being a wonderful recreational sport, there are also competitions where pilots can test their skills.

"Once we're in the air, we all compete on equal footing," said Gaskill. He said studies have shown that "just the freedom associated with flying" will affect their moods and outlook on life. "Throwing them into the air means they have to think in bigger terms."

Disabled Water-Skiing

People of all ages and abilities can enjoy the fun and excitement of waterskiing. All that’s needed is a desire to learn and a body of water that can accommodate a high-speed boat.

Adaptive equipment allows a skier to participate in a range of water sports from skimming the surface in an inner tube, to competitive skiing including slalom, tricks, and jumping. Many leg and arm amputees use the same equipment as able-bodied athletes, but adaptive devices such as sit-skis, outriggers, and shoulder slings, accommodate various levels of ability.

Disabled Powerlifting

Powerlifting by people with disabilities is the fastest growing Paralympic sport in the world, with 109 countries represented at last count. Wheelchair users have competed in the event since its inception.

Debuting as a medal sport at the second Paralympic Games back in 1964, it was originally only available to lifters with spinal cord injuries. The sport has since evolved to include a wide range of disability groups.

Powerlifting’s popularity at the Paralympics is on the rise. From 1992 to 1996, the number of countries sending athletes to participate in the sport more than doubled. The sport is open to male and female participants with physical disabilities relating to spinal cord injury, cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injury, stroke, dwarfism, amputation and more.

In Paralympic powerlifting, athletes are separated by gender and then by weight, with 10 classes each for male and female athletes. Participants lift three times. The heaviest “good” lift is used to determine placement in their weight class.

Quadriplegic Rugby

From the hits to the pit stops, the game is not played as the traditional game of rugby is played. Quad rugby is a sport specifically for quadriplegic and team members say when many people think of quadriplegic, they assume they can't move.

Player positions are determined on a mobility scale. Those with the highest mobility usually play offense and can be ranked as high as 3.5.

"That's your most mobile person, and then your least mobile person would be a .5, and you're only allowed eight points on the court at a time. So everybody's pretty much the same out there," said Jenkins.

Just like football, it is a contact sport.

Physically Challenged Bowhunters and Archery

Newly injured and inexperienced sports-persons with disabilities are provided critical information and services through PCBA and its members. We demonstrate how they can learn to shoot a bow and hunt, regardless of their impairment.

PCBA serves as a national clearinghouse on techniques, opportunities and adaptive equipment for challenged archers.

Sled Hockey

Sled (sledge as it's referred to outside the US) hockey was invented at a Stockholm, Sweden rehabilitation center in the early 1960s by a group of Swedes who, despite their physical disability, wanted to continue playing hockey.

Sled hockey follows most of the typical ice hockey rules with the exception some of the equipment. Players sit in specially designed sleds that sit on top of two hockey skate blades. There are two sticks for each player instead of one and and the sticks have metal pics on the butt end for players to propel themselves. Goalies wear basically the same equipment but do make modifications to the glove.  Metal picks are sewn into the backside to allow the goalie to maneuver.

A few rinks around the country are sled accessible.  Sled accessible rinks allow players to remain in their sleds and skate off the ice into the bench area.  This requires that the bench area is flush with the ice and there is clear plexiglass replacing the white boards.

Sled hockey provides opportunity for many types of disabilities and there are opportunities available in local areas for recreation/competition all the way to the National Sled Team that plays in the Paralympics. Sled hockey is rapidly growing in the US and players are "hooked" once they touch the ice the first time.