Body Mind: Psychosocial Support through Movement and Relaxation

Body Mind: Psychosocial Support through movement and Relaxation

RTI has been running support groups for women and girls since our very early days in the camp at Idomeni on the border of Greece and Macedonia. Over the years we have explored a number of ways of getting women together in a safe space where they can bond, including talking groups, knitting circles and beauty and self-care sessions.

We now run a weekly Body Mind session for women at Intervolve’s Irida Centre in Thessaloniki that provides psychosocial support through movement and relaxation. Many women refugees have had difficult or traumatic experiences related to physical or psychological harm, and they suffer from  stress, anxiety, insomnia, depression and chronic pain. The programme focuses on non-verbal techniques- they  give women power to express complex emotions, and they also obviate the need for a common language.

The Body Mind programme gives space for women to heal by taking the focus away from the mind and into their bodies. For example, we use tapping and grounding techniques to address stress, and we use dance as a way of exploring the body and having fun. Dancing has such power to release stress and it’s also a lot of fun. We laugh a lot, actually- small moments of joy and happiness have the power to carry you through, even at the most difficult times.

Massage also plays an important role. We teach self-massage and we also encourage the women to practice massage on each other if they want. By exploring massage, many women find that they have the same pains as each other, which helps them feel a sense of community and sisterhood with the other. They can also take the massage, tapping and grounding techniques home with them and show them to their friends and families.

RTI continues to explore  innovative psychosocial support interventions for refugees. At the heart of each one are our four core principles: to allow space for self-expression, provide respite, teach knowledge and skills, and build strong and positive relationships.