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04 Mar

The Interweaving of the Personal and Professional Dancesi with Immigrants and Refugees

Hilda Wengrower, Israel

(Contributed chapter in Hougham, R., Pitruzzella, S. and Scoble, S. (eds.). 2017. Cultural landscapes in the Arts Therapies. Plymouth, University of Plymouth. An ECArTE publication. Pps. 63-80.)

“The future of cultural psychiatry lies in advancing a broad perspective that: (a) is inherently multidisciplinary…” (Kirmayer 2006, p.126)

This paper has two purposes. The first purpose has an epistemological character. It elucidates the interweaving of the personal, the academic and the professional aspects of the theoretical construction of immigrants as mainly negative figures. One of the consequences of this exposition is a call for a reflective critique about theoretical and professional conceptions of migrants. After introducing the readers to aspects of the biography of the author, it shares the process that led to the devotion of many years of working and teaching on issues related to the social-cultural integration of immigrants.

The second purpose, thus, is to introduce aspects of the development of a culturally sensitive approach for students of dance movement therapy that can be implemented in education and training in the arts therapies in general. Movement and drama experiences, their sharing in a group with the trainer and their subsequent discussion are the main tools used for this matter. The paper adopts a social-constructivist, multidisciplinary epistemological perspective. It integrates theory, principles of training and examples from practice.

The main conclusion is that therapists and students have to engage in self-exploration in order to be aware of how the ingraining of their cultures is a founding aspect of their identity and self. It is not enough to reflect on personal biography from an individualistic perspective. Social-cultural aspects also define the person and determine attitudes towards the other as embodied in the immigrants.

Keywords: Immigration, social integration of immigrants, culturally sensitive education of therapists.

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About the author

Hilda Wengrower. Ph.D, DMT, teaches and lectures in Israel and internationally. Former academic director of the DMT master’s program at IL3-University of Barcelona, She maintains a private practice which includes supervision. Hilda has published papers and chapters on subjects related to arts therapies in educational settings, DMT with children with behavioral disorders, migration, qualitative research, arts based research and DMT. She is an active member of the Israeli Association of Creative Arts Therapies promoting and organizing conferences and activities. She is book reviews editor of the International Journal Body, Movement and Dance in Psychotherapy.

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