Ivy Tong Celebrates Creative Arts Therapies
March 14, 2023
“Dance and movement are a full body vulnerability,” shares Ivy Tong, MA dance/movement therapy and counseling ’23. “As a DMT therapist, it is such a privilege to get to know my clients and learn their stories through this modality. To me, therapy is all about hearing someone’s story and then helping them to reshape their story from a strengths-based perspective.”
LOVE OF DANCE
Born in Beijing, China, Tong studied Chinese traditional dance as a child and has fostered a life-long love for the arts. During her undergrad years, Tong studied social work and considered a career in counseling. However, Tong discovered the field of creative arts therapies and considered the possibility of combining her passion for dance with her professional interest in therapy.
“Because I am a dancer, I know how healing this modality can be,” Tong shares. “I know first-hand the way dance and movement transform my state of being, the way I’m feeling, my emotions and physical experience. Now, I want to use these skills and insights to help others.”
CREATIVE ARTS THERAPIES RESEARCH
Tong says she chose to come to Drexel because she was interested in pursuing research in the field of creative arts therapies. Now, she works as a research assistant in the Mind-Body & Movement Research for Whole-Person Health Lab, led by Minjung Shim, PhD, BC-DMT, an assistant research professor and board-certified dance/movement therapist. The mission of Shim’s lab is “to further the integration of mind-body medicine and creative arts-based interventions into the mainstream healthcare system by means of rigorous, evidence-based research and clinical application of this work.” The lab’s vision encompasses a drive to develop heightened interprofessional collaboration across academic disciplines as well as clinical and community interests.
“The work we are doing in this lab is very cool,” Tong says. “We are currently conducting a feasibility study to see how enjoyable and doable older adults find virtual reality mindful movement programs. So far, we are getting great results.”
As a part of her research work, Tong engages with VR technology in Shim’s lab to simulate experiences for study participants. Shim’s research lab makes use of the new Health Science Building and the dance/movement therapy research studio. “It’s a gorgeous space,” Tong comments.
In addition to her role in Shim’s lab, Tong has explored several internship opportunities at Jefferson Hospital through her masters’ program. Starting in September 2022, Tong has run therapy groups for in-patient psychiatric units at Jefferson, as well as groups for all different units and floors throughout the hospital. This upcoming term, Tong plans to work the oncology and palliative care units, an experience which will inform her thesis about grief and caregivers.
As Tong looks towards the future, she shares that she is hopeful about using dance and movement therapy as a method in her future practice. In the long term, Tong hopes to open a private practice that encompasses a variety of therapeutic approaches, including art therapy, movement therapy, music therapy, animal-assisted therapy and more. Tong is an ardent believer in the potential of creative arts therapies and its improved outcomes for clients.
“Our body holds a lot of information,” Tong explains. “It holds onto our memories, stories and experiences – all of this lives in our somatic memory. So sometimes, being able to move with someone can open them up more so than traditional talk therapy. It can make possible entire conversations that might not have otherwise been accessible for that person before exploring creative arts therapies.”
Written by Izzy López