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Marja Cantell, PhD


Since September 2010, I live in Groningen,

the Netherlands.

I continue teaching - and learning - in North America, Australia, Europe and Scandinavia.

Please check in the "Events Info" for 2023 courses, workshops and lectures.



Op juli 7 & 8 MOVEME! Inclusiedans festival in Assen!


Groningen Authentic Movement Peer Practice Group

Er is een maandelijkse groep in Al Nour.

Als je geïnteresseerd bent, vul in het contactformulier (Zie pagina: Events & Contact info)

There is an ongoing peer practice group once a month at Al Nour. 

If you are interested, just fill out the contact form (Check the Events & Contact info page).

Stay tuned!


Vragen en aanmelding via 'Events and Contact Info'

Ongoing activities in Groningen:


*Dance Movement Therapy

*Authentic Movement Peer Practice Group

*For more information, see the Events -section

Photo memories of islands and workshops 

Brannö, August 2019

Iceland, August 2018

Jurmo, Baltic Sea, August 2017

Utö, Baltic Sea, July 2014 - Photos: T. Granö

Vlieland, May 2014

Fanö, DK, August 2013

Ameland, NL, May 2013

Galiano, BC, September 2012

Photo: P. Pylvänäinen

Schiermonnikoog, NL, November 2011

Pettu, Baltic Sea, Finland, August 2011

Photos in this website are mine if not mentioned otherwise.

This website describes two approaches to body, mind and health:

a) Dance Movement


b) Exercise and Health


Metchosin, BC, Canada

Aava House, BC


What is DMT?

  • DMT is the psychotherapeutic use of movement and dance through which a person can engage creatively in a process to further their emotional, cognitive, physical and social integration.
  • DMT is founded on the principle that movement reflects an individual’s patterns of thinking and feeling. Through acknowledging and supporting clients’ movements the therapist encourages development and integration of new adaptive movement patterns together with the emotional experiences that accompany such changes.
  • DMT is practiced as both individual and group therapy in health, education and social service settings and in private practice.
  • Dance Movement Therapists work with a wide variety of clients including people who are emotionally distressed, people with learning difficulties, those with physical or mental illness and people who want to use the medium for personal growth.
  • While the origins of dance as a healing art lie in ancient history, the contemporary profession incorporates dance, movement and psychological theories and therapeutic practices developed primarily in Europe and the U.S.A. The profession is also informed by continuing international research.

Who is DMT for?

  • For anyone experiencing difficulties or concerns with emotional problems, conflict or distress.
  • For people who want to enhance personal communication skills, self-exploration or self-understanding.
  • For people who may find some feelings or experiences too overwhelming or difficult to communicate by words alone, or for those who may avoid feelings or confuse issues in their use of words.
  • For people whose problems are bound up in bodily form; in distortions or concern about body image, in actual movement difficulties such as tension or blocked areas of the body, impaired movements or in anxieties about proximity, physical contact or trust.
  • For people where impairment or trauma may hinder the capacity for them or others to acknowledge and understand personal areas of strength and weakness.
  • For people during particular periods of distress such as those associated with loss, transition or change.
  • For people concerned that problems they feel have gone on for too long, or who have a general sense that "things are not right" for them, their relationships or their family.
  • For those for whom verbal communication is less available

Benefits of DMT

  • increasing self-awareness, self-esteem and personal autonomy
  • experiencing links between thought, feelings and actions
  • increasing and rehearsing adaptive coping behaviours
  • expressing and managing overwhelming feelings or thoughts
  • maximising resources of communication
  • contacting inner resources through contained creative movement play
  • testing the impact of self on others
  • testing inner with outer reality
  • initiating physical, emotional and/or cognitive shifts
  • developing a trusting relationship
  • manage feelings that interrupt learning
  • enhancing social interaction skills
Association of Dance Movement Therapy, UK:

Leens, NL

Why and how does DMT work?

Human beings have always expressed themselves in movement and dance, they have gathered to express gratitude, rites of passage or to connect with their ancestors in communal dance rituals. This well-known human behaviour can be seen as the foundation of DMT. In research literature, several models have been used to describe the process and outcome of DMT. Next, three broad theoretical frameworks are summarized.

Expressive and Creative Non-Verbal Psychotherapy

DMT is client-centered, non-verbal, bottom-up" (~body-mind) therapy. Movement is a bridge to direct experience, it allows body-based non-verbal communication and can offer a physical release of emotions. It can also be experienced as "a flow", as a creative process in interaction with the accepting other. (See e.g. Bartal & Ne'eman, 1993; Payne, 2006; Meekums, 2002; Hervey, 2000)

Neuroscience and Mirror Neurosystem

Neuroscientific research suggests that the brain has evolved as a social organ of the body. Mirror neurons are a system that links perception to action. When an intentional act is observed, the same mirror neurons will fire as when the individual observing the act enacts that same behaviour. The brain is thus hard-wired to understanding the intentions and feelings of the other; mindsight and embodiment. (See e.g. Berroll, 2006)

Interpersonal Neurobiology

Individuals who have made sense of their lives achieve a certain degree of neural integration that allows them to both be internally coherent and available for interpersonal connections.The integration of the logical left with the autobiographical right side of the brain can result in a self-understanding that makes sense of one’s own life, a coherent narrative of life from inside out. (See e.g. Siegel, 1999, 2007)

Tiipii at Leighton Centre, AB


Naramata, BC

Exercise psychology examines beliefs and emotions with the primary goal of enhancing the adoption of regular exercise and its effects on psychological well-being. It studies the biological and psychological consequences of physical activity to determine its effects on mental health (Buckworth & Dishman, 2002).

What can exercise and health psychology offer?

Some of the questions considered in this context are:

  • What motivates us to exercise?
  • What are the experienced barriers and benefits of daily physical activity in parents with young children?
  • Are preschool aged children active enough?
  • How to find a balance between work and leisure?
  • How can exercise relief stress?
  • How much and what forms of physical activity do I need to keep fit?
  • How to exercise with a chronic illness or condition, such as diabetes, Parkinson's disease, Multiple Scelerosis, Epilepsy or cancer?
  • Are exercise and mood related?
  • What is exercise dependency?

Rough Bay, BC

Our recreation has changed...

Recreation has gone from spontaneous to organized and regimented activity: parents exercise at the gym while the young play soccer and hockey in leagues in schedules rather than in the backyard or the street in the front. More time is often spent in preparing for and getting there rather than on the activity itself. (Friedman, Food for Thought, 2005)

There can be a misconception that exercise, physical activity and sport are the same, but they have quite different focuses.

Physical activity is any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that results in an expenditure of energy.

Exercise is a subset of physical activity in which activity is purposefully undertaken with the aim of maintaining or improving physical fitness and health (E.g., brisk walking, cross-country skiing, yoga, belly dancing, going to the gym).

Sport usually involves a component of competition and structure with achievement goals that may or may not include health maintenance or gain.

Physical activity or PLAY in children?

For young children, physical activity should emphasize play, not only as a way to improved energy balance, but as a means by which children experience movement, socialize and learn (Burdette & Whitaker, 2005).

Play may well be central to normal personality development. However, its place in contemporary Western society is not secure, perhaps risking the development and well-being of urban and disadvantaged children in particular (McArdle, 2001).

Bere Point, BC

Mechanisms explaining the benefits of exercise

1. Bio-Physical Mechanisms

  • Change in body temperature
  • Decrease in muscle tension
  • Neurotransmitters

Metabolic and chemical pathways among the muscles, spinal cord and the brain offer plausible mechanism to explain the effects of physical activity for the central nervous system (Dishman et al., 2006).

2. Psycho-Social Mechanisms

  • Perceived competence
  • Perception of autonomy and control
  • Social processes (e.g., affiliation with others)
  • Cognitive processes (e.g., enhanced pain management)

Malcolm Island, BC

In the end of this rather long background and definition section, my argument is that we all, despite our age, gender, body size, skill or health status, have an innate calling and need to move our bodies - not only to get the daily exercise but to sense ourselves as active beings, in connection to our emotions, creativity, environment and to other living beings. That is why I find it essential that we are mindful about when we need activity and rest, and if it takes place in the company of others or by ourselves.

I move to sense and I sense to move.

(Jean Ayres)

To find out more, please click on to other sections of this website.

Malcolm Island, BC

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