Online proceedings for the IRCT General Assembly and 10th International Scientific Symposium - Delivering on the Promise of the Right to Rehabilitation

Time: 11:30 to 11:50 Download Presentation

The applicability of creative movement therapies in the healing process of torture victims in a conflict scenario in Manipur, India

Presenter(s) and co-author(s): Dr. Debabrata Roy Laifungbam ( Centre for Organisation Research & Education - India ), Prof. Akshayakumar Kumar Mayengbam ( Centre for Organisation Research & Education - India ), Ms. Sunitibala Takhelmayum ( Centre for Organisation Research & Education - India ), Ms. Manju Verma ( Creative Movement Therapy Association of India - India )


Dance movement therapy (DMT) is defined today as “the use of expressive movement and dance as a vehicle, through which an individual can engage in the process of personal integration and growth'”. Marian Chace, the founder of dance therapy, first worked with World War II veterans in the US. Initiating coping for traumatic memories, often non-verbal, works well with creative media. DMT became a tool in rehabilitating torture survivors. Dance and movement are cross-cultural media, applicable in multi-cultural contexts. An IRCT member centre in India's remote north- eastern region integrated DMT in its therapeutic repertoire from 2010 among indigenous youth affected by armed conflicts.


Two group, one of children and one of adult women survivors of torture, were conducted from 2010 -- 2013. 17 children (Range = 5-15 years, Mean = 10.35 years) and 23 women (Range = 33-69 years, Mean = 48.86 years) underwent group DMT supplemented by psychological counselling conducted by the centre staff. All clients experienced trauma four weeks before the programme. Torture definition used as in Tokyo Declaration (1975), World Medical Association. The programmes were identical in content and duration. Appropriate written prior con- sent was given by all clients. A consultant clinical psychologist supervised the TRPs. Two dance movement therapists, two junior clinical psychologists, one psychological counsellor, one traditional healer and one medical doctor conducted the programmes. Among both the groups, only one was male and excluded from the results.

HTQ (Cambodian original version) was used to evaluate traumatic experience. Self-reporting Trauma Screening Questionnaire (DSM-IV) assessed PTSD for adults. Scheeringa et al (1995) recommend altered the criteria for PTSD used for children. Post-therapy and two follow-up clinics were conducted after six months and one year to assess results of the programmes. Additional assessment psychometric tools for anxiety and depression were used to evaluate clients who had no PTSD.


Overall baseline prevalence of PTSD among the children (N = 16, one male excluded) was 47%. Among the adult women, the baseline prevalence was much lower (N = 23) at 13%. Among girl children, 60% showed normal to moderate anxiety and 33% had mild to moderate depression. Anxiety and depression levels were much lower among the adults. Qualitative evaluation of clients in the follow up clinics revealed marked improvement of symptoms. Subjective feeling of being refreshed, relieved, ability to share feelings and emotions with others including family members, reduction in feelings of anger, able to cry, relaxed and having pain “washed away'” were some of the feedback. In addition, the ambience of the programme was found relevant and important. A sense of security and not having observers were critical. An outdoor component to the movement therapy sessions was found particularly memorable and healing, especially for the children in the shelter.

Funding & No Conflicts Declaration

No funding received for the conduct of this study and/or preparation of this manuscript; it represents valid work and no conflict of interest exists.

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