Hello! I’m Jessica Houghton, an Internal Family systems informed Registered Psychotherapist, Dance Movement Psychotherapist, educator, and dance artist. I am a queer, cis woman, with a family background of Italian and English settlers. I completed my Master of Arts in Dance Movement Psychotherapy in the UK, where I researched the potential benefits of DMP for survivors of sexual trauma. I recently completed a training in Internal Family Systems, which I have been integrating into my therapy practice.
I am a firm believer in the transformative power of dance and movement. Having spent over twenty five years of my life studying, performing, and teaching dance, I have experienced on a deep level the immense benefits that dance can have on a person’s physical, emotional, and psychological wellbeing. I am committed to facilitating this therapeutic dance experience for others and offering my clients a supportive and inclusive space where they can feel free to explore the richness of their internal world through embodied creative movement.
Developing a trusting therapeutic relationship is at the heart of how I practice, and I tailor my approach to meet the needs of my clients. We will work together to find a way of working that feels safe, creative, and effective, and incorporate the elements Dance Movement Psychotherapy and Internal Family Systems that best suit you. Using a body and movement based approach helps me respond to all of the layers of communication that take place in a session – not just what’s being said verbally.
As a Dance Movement Psychotherapist, I believe in the interconnection between the body, mind, and emotions, and that the three constantly influence each other. Because of this connection, any changes that happen in your movement vocabulary or physical experience are also reflected in changes in emotional or psychological states, and vice versa. In our sessions, we make use of this connection through bringing awareness to existing patterns, and exploring how we can shift the patterns that may be hindering your growth.
I also am supported by theories from Internal Family Systems, developmental, feminist, somatic, existential, and psychodynamic psychotherapies, as well as research from neuroscience and trauma theory, and use movement analysis techniques such as Laban Movement Analysis and the Kestenberg Movement Profile.
You can learn more about Dance Movement Psychotherapy here.
My past experience in DMP includes working within adult mental health in both hospital settings (acute and psychiatric intensive care units) and community settings (through organizations and in private practice), as well as working with senior immigrant populations. I have experience working with trauma, grief, depression, anxiety, infertility/fertility treatment, chronic pain, body dysmorphia, gender transitions, polyamory, embodiment barriers, traumatic brain injury, and life transitions.
Currently I run my private practice in Toronto’s east end and run groups and workshops across the city, serving a diverse range of clients, with a focus on supporting the 2SLGBTQ+ community.
I am a Registered Psychotherapist with the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario and a professional member of the Ontario Expressive Arts Therapy Association and the Dance Movement Therapy Association in Canada. I abide by the Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice of the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario and the Ontario Expressive Arts Therapy Association.
More about me:
I am the President of the Dance Movement Therapy Association in Canada, co-founder of Dance Movement Therapy Ontario and a member of the Inclusion and Diversity Committee for REAson D’etre Dance Productions.
Alongside my work as a therapist, I am an active member of the Toronto dance community through performing, teaching, and taking classes, and an avid gardener. I have studied many physical practices alongside dance, including contact improvisation, yoga, martial arts, and Feldenkrais technique. My work as a dance artist continues to influence my therapeutic work, just as my work in DMP has offered new depth into my explorations as an artist.
Please get in touch if you’d like to meet for a free consultation appointment, or if you’re curious about my approach and want to find out more, check out my blog where I explore topics related to dance and DMT, as well as my own personal journey to becoming a therapist.