Meet the Neighbors: People Who Make Our Community a Warm and Welcoming Place
Interviewed by Danielle Rice
WholeMe! Programs, LLC helps parents and their babies create healthy parent-child bonds using research-based practices through movement, dance, yoga and the expressive arts. Founder,Brigitta White,MS, R-DMT holds a master’s of science degree in dance movement therapy and is a registered dance movement therapist through American Dance Therapy Association (ADTA), a holistic family specialist, and is certified in prenatal yoga for conscious birthing, and children’s yoga.
Brigitta is a native of Northern Virginia and is bilingual in Spanish and English. Her dad is fromNicaraguaand her mom is a mix of Ecuadorian and Argentine. She has experienced the transformative power of dance in her life since an early age. It was only natural for her to choose a dance major course of study in college more than 10 years ago, and during her freshman year at George Mason University’s School of Dance, she was exposed to the field of dance therapy. Brigitta began to research the field and loved how it combined dance and movement, psychology, and mindful awareness.
I talked with Brigitta about dance therapy, her passion for this field, and the work she does through WholeMe! Programs.
Can you give us an example of what dance therapy is and how it combines movement, psychology, and mindful awareness?
Dance Movement Therapy is defined by the ADTA as the psychotherapeutic use of movement to further the emotional, cognitive, physical, and social integration of the individual. A person becomes a dance/movement therapist with a master’s level of graduate education.
A beautiful merger of art and science takes place in the field of dance/movement therapy, through the detailed understanding of mind-body-emotion processes, self and other relationship dynamics or psychodynamic theory, infant development and child psychology, basic neuroscience, and the application/analysis of the art of dance and movement.
In part, a dance/movement therapist embodies and further facilitates others to be present and aware of their thinking, feeling, and relating self. This is, in practice, mindfulness!
Give us an example of the work you do.
My goal is to support social-emotional development, and this is learned through the growing parent-child relationship.
I help parents and babies create healthy parent-child bonds using research-based practices through movement, dance, yoga, and the expressive arts. My work has transformed over the years where I now work using basic premises of dance and movement therapy for wellness, health, and wholeness in a non-clinical environment, that is, in families’ homes.
My background has strong clinical foundations such as working with adults and geriatrics with psychiatric illness and chemical addiction, and most recently with hospitalized children and infants.
Who is your ‘typical’ client or what type of client do you work with on a regular basis?
Holistic, loving families who are aware that there are always deeper aspects of the parent-child relationship that can help them understand why they do what they do as parents, and why that helps their child’s whole self. These same families want to share constructive and meaningful time together using the joy of movement, dance, yoga, and the expressive arts.
I’m also excited to announce that I now offer online classes live on Learn it Live, a virtual classroom that enables face-to-face, interactive learning with top experts online. This means I don’t have to be limited by geographic location anymore, although I do still travel to homes inNorthern Virginia. The ways to learn with me online are to either request instruction on my Learn it Live page or to sign up for a scheduled class: http://www.learnitlive.com/wholemeprograms.
Do you work with schools or childcare institutions?
Yes! My children’s yoga program is built into the curriculum of two different private schools right now. I offer weekly and twice weekly classes at these institutions for children ranging in ages from 2 ½ to 12 years old.
What is the connection between the dance therapy and prenatal yoga?
My prenatal program integrates both dance therapy and prenatal yoga for conscious birthing. The program supports the growing parent-child bond, and allows expecting women and couples to tune into their baby while enhancing their comfort, relaxation, and enjoyment through mind-body-emotion processes. It’s a beautiful thing to witness!
What has been the biggest success for you with Whole Me?
Being able to reach more children and families through my work by taking the work out to the community and into the world, by supporting healthy bonding, secure attachment patterns, and an integrated developing self in early childhood to set the foundation for a happy, calm, secure, and resilient life.
Tell us a little about you personally – your family and your free time.
I am happily married to my artist and accountant husband, Dave White. We met in 2004 as college undergrads studying abroad inSeville,Spain! He is fromFort Wayne,Indiana. He is bicultural and bilingual like me, but not by birth like me. I’m a native of Northern Virginia (LoudounCounty) and my family is fromLatin America. Dave served as a Peace Corps Volunteer inCosta Ricafor three years. We plan to have lots of babies in the near future.
In my free time I love meditation as a personal relaxation technique and I love closing the door and putting on music to dance and move as I please. I also love being a mentor to Latina Youth in the area, and I have been involved with organizations like Latinas Leading Tomorrow and Girl Scouts of America, Nations Capital since starting my business.
What tips or advice can you offer parents to help them enhance their bond/relationship with their child?
It’s okay to follow the child’s lead. Notice how you shape your body around your child. Does it communicate openness, receptivity, support? Is there enough space for freedom and exploration? Lead from your heart and your gut!