Languaging the embodied experience

H. Panhofer, Helen Payne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)
681 Downloads (Pure)


This article is based on a study (Panhofer, 2009) which explored ways of verbalizing the embodied experience and inquired into the essentially subjective undertaking of yielding meaning in the movement. In Dance Movement Psychotherapy (DMP), movement observation and analysis generally serves as a tool to understand, classify and interpret human movement, providing practitioners with a language for how to speak and describe movement. The study drew attention to the possibilities and limitations of wording the embodied experience, or, as Sheets-Johnstone (2007, p.1) referred to it as ‘ the challenge of languaging the experience’. Underlining nonlanguaged ways of knowing the study showed how movement replaces words in many ways and illustrated valuable possible methods of communicating the embodied experience such as the use of metaphors, images and poetry. It is suggested, as a result of the study, that the embodied word needs to be linked to a personal, emotive vocabulary rather than any technical movement observational language when practitioners communicate their practice to others.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)215-232
JournalBody, Movement and Dance in Psychotherapy
Issue number3
Early online date19 May 2011
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • Dance Movement Psychotherapy
  • the embodied word
  • narrative
  • movement observation and analysis
  • therapeutic process


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