12. Depression: Reignite Your Life Force

Joan Wittig, MS, BC-DMT, LCAT talks about the significance of using movement in psychotherapy for people struggling with depression. Joan describes movement as a bridge from body to mind that allows people to access deeply held feelings and ultimately gain powerful insights about the origins of their depression.

Joan Wittig began her career as a dance/movement therapist at Woodhull Medical and Mental Health Center, where she worked in inpatient psychiatry for 6 ½ years before becoming the director of the Creative Arts Therapy Department. She left Woodhull to become the director of the Family Health and Support Center at Cumberland Diagnostic and Treatment Center, and eventually left Cumberland to take the position as director of the graduate dance therapy program at Pratt Institute, where she is also a tenured full professor. She also has a private practice in New York City.

Joan was heavily involved in the passage of legislation that licenses creative arts therapy in New York State, serving as liaison from the New York Coalition of Creative Arts Therapies to the Joint Council for Mental Health Services Legislative Coalition for over 10 years. She has served on the New York State Board for Mental Health Practitioners for the past 20 years. She received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the New York Art Therapy Association, and an Exceptional Service Award and Outstanding Achievement Award from the American Dance Therapy Association.

Currently Joan teaches nationally and internationally. She has presented and taught dance therapy in Canada, Japan, New Zealand, China, and Korea. She developed and implemented the first dance/movement therapy training program in mainland China, through Inspirees International, and continues to serve as Program Director and faculty. She is on the faculty of Dance Therapy New Zealand, and is the founder and director of the New York Center for the Study of Authentic Movement.

Joan is one of the subjects of a film by the New York Chapter of the American Dance Therapy Association, “Moving Stories – Portraits of Dance/Movement Therapy”. She has published several articles and chapters on a variety of subjects, including Authentic Movement, improvisation as therapy, non-verbal communication in groups, and dance therapy as Buddhist practice.

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