Editors’ Note

To our readers,

As the editors of AJDT, we have the unique opportunity to directly share our perspectives with you and invite yours in return. It is a privilege to have a voice at a crucial time in world history, to be able to address you when all fields in the helping professions are experiencing turbulence.

We would like to begin with acknowledging that this issue of the AJDT was compiled and released during a global pandemic affecting every human being in varying ways. Unemployment in the US is at a rate last experienced during the Great Depression, loved ones are sick—and some fighting for their lives or losing their lives, people do not have food and sheltering is challenging for many even while being more necessary than ever for their health and safety. Some people have not been permitted to leave their homes at all while others have had very little restriction on their daily activities. Businesses are rapidly shifting from temporary closures to permanent closures. Our minority groups—people of color, people who were already poor, people who are undocumented in the United States, people who are incarcerated, women and the elderly—are the most profoundly impacted primarily due to the classist, misogynistic and racist systems that structure our societies. It has never been more clear–the function more defined—exactly how those systems harm, repress and further marginalize people.

In order to slow the spread of infection, many people have been placed under social distancing restraints. Social distancing requires individuals to not gather in large groups (large is defined differently in different areas), to stay more than 6 ft from each other, to refrain from social gatherings and celebrations including religious gatherings in some areas, to stay out of public places for anything more than obtaining essential materials such as food, going to work as an essential worker or taking care of someone. In some areas, people have been required to stay in their residence and not go outside at all. What is called social distancing is actually about physical distancing from others so that droplet spread infection cannot spread as easily. While there are endless aspects of living through a pandemic that are tremendously impactful, the physical distancing seems particularly profound for the practice of dance/movement therapy as well as dance/movement therapy training and supervision.

For many, most or all therapy has been moved to telehealth and various online platforms for the safety of the clinicians and the clients. How does one “do” dance/movement therapy online? How do we use the majority of our skills while social distancing? How do we create group rhythmic activity or establish therapeutic rapport or “pick up” movements through the ether? While it may be true that supervision has long occurred virtually and some dance/movement therapists have provided virtual dance/movement therapy in the past, this is the first time in the history of dance/movement therapy that so many clinicians are offering services in virtual spaces. We would like to hear from you about these spaces. How have you done it? What methods, techniques and approaches are working for you? What seems to work for your clients? How can we keep the body in the therapy in a virtual space? What gets in the way? What pragmatic concerns have arisen such as changes in informed consent, safety, ethics and privacy? How has consultation and peer support organized by the ADTA supported or not supported this shift to virtual services for so many dance/movement therapists? What else is needed? Will you continue to offer telehealth or virtual services after they are no longer required? Further, what types of concerns are your clients managing as a result of the pandemic? What are the needs that may require further exploration for us to meet? What else have you learned that you can share with others and contribute to the body of knowledge?

We are curious about dance/movement therapy education and training accommodations. Just as online or remote supervision is not a completely novel concept in dance/movement therapy training, distance learning is not completely new either. Yet, the expanse of remote training is impacting more dance/movement therapy students and educators than ever before. Please tell us about these experiences. What is the potential for distance or virtual learning for the future? What are the limitations? Are there ways to create additional equitable or accessible training opportunities?

In our personal observation, the pandemic has also created opportunity for creativity, social action, advocacy and compassion as communities come together to figure out how to survive, how to stay connected, how to express their feelings and fears and support one another. Humanity has been touched in so many different ways. Creativity and artistry are desired and necessary for managing a world-wide public health crisis on a broader scope and our individual daily needs on a much smaller scope. How has your creative process been impacted? How have you used your creativity to navigate your DMT work or your life in general?

We seek your case studies, reflections, original research and position manuscripts for our next issue and moving forward as the pandemic and aftereffects continue to evolve.

In the meantime, we hope that you and your loved ones are healthy, safe and support systems are in place. We know that some of you have been directly impacted by Covid-19 and we wish for your healing to continue with support and connection. We hope that we can continue to care for each other, engage in honest dialogues and grow as a community using the resilience that will support our experience of the many impacts and inequities of this global pandemic. We ask you to advocate or continue to advocate for those most impacted and those oppressed by our systems. Their lives depend on it now more than ever before. If you are in need of any of these things, we ask you to reach out—to your support system, to ADTA, or to us individually.

This issue is comprised of four original manuscripts ranging from broader topics to topics of specificity that were explored and written before the pandemic. Broader explorations such as the “something more” that dance/movement therapy can offer as well as the situating of identity within the cross-cultural therapeutic relationship are continued important dialogues in the theoretical examination of the practice of dance/movement therapy. Specific topics about the use of dance/movement therapy for individuals diagnosed with a rare syndrome and in the medical setting provide unique treatment approaches as well as needed research in these areas. We hope you will find useful and stimulating content in both types of articles.

The issue also includes conference materials from the 54th American Dance Therapy Association conference held in Miami, Florida in 2019. As usual, reflections from the conference are invigorating, challenging, provoking and meaningful. The International Panel looked at diverse global approaches to research in dance/movement therapy while the Research and Thesis Poster Session provided examples of the widely varying types of research and projects presented by students and professionals from different areas of the world. The keynote plenary demonstrated the value of experience and experiential learning in dance/movement therapy by being and doing just that. The plenary, Honoring Multiplicity, provided an experience for participants to continue the important explorations and dialogues around diversity, social justice, and equity for individuals and the system of the American Dance Therapy Association—and beyond to our social systems and social structures. A generous group of authors offered their reflections as a means to document the experience within our body of knowledge. The Marian Chace Foundation Lecture, Reflection, Evolution and Risk Taking, offered by Nana Koch as well as the loving introduction to Nana will be included in a future issue of AJDT.

We would like to acknowledge a change in the Book and Film Review editor role. Fran Levy has generously solicited, curated and edited book, film and materials reviews for the past 2 years. She has decided to decrease her workload and shift focus to other areas of her personal and professional life. We are tremendously grateful for Fran’s wisdom, time and energy as an original part of our editorial team as we took on co-editor roles with AJDT. Thank you, Fran.

As such, we would also like to introduce Nancy Beardall as the current Book and Film Review Editor. We appreciate the opportunity to work with Nancy in this context and look forward to continuing to offer this aspect of the journal.

A short note from Nancy Beardall:

I am looking forward to serving as the Book and Film Review Editor for the American Journal of Dance Therapy and working with Laura and Susan and all of you. These are challenging times in our world and our skills are needed more than ever. I want to embrace our association’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion in addition to meeting the needs of our readers through publications that address skills required during this pandemic as we grow and change to meet what is necessary in advocacy and social justice issues for our global world.

Thank you,

Nancy Beardall.

In this role, Nancy has already provided us with a review of Martha Eddy’s book, Mindful Movement written by Valerie Blanc.

We hope you enjoy the issue and look forward to receiving your manuscripts.

In gratitude,

Laura and Susan

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Downey, L., Kierr, S. & Beardall, N. Editors’ Note. Am J Dance Ther 42, 1–4 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10465-020-09331-w

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