Resilience in Action by Kiona McCormick ’22

For my Engaged Project, I wrote an article discussing the role of the mind-body connection in building resilience from trauma. I specifically focus on how the mind-body connection is achieved through dance and intentional movement, using my own experience as an example. I also address the need for increased research regarding the efficacy of dance and movement-based approaches to mental health. My project audience includes researchers, writers, and practitioners in the fields of dance, somatics, and psychology. The primary goal of my article was to emphasize the importance of increased research and collaboration between these fields.

Sponsor: Katja Kolcio, Director of the Albritton Centor and Associate Professor of Dance at Wesleyan University and Daniel Chiu, Mindfulness/Yoga Instructor and Addiction Recovery Coach

Student reflection excerpt:

I learned things I didn’t know about the neuroscience of trauma, the mechanisms underlying various movement practices, and the research issues in the field of dance/movement therapy. I also learned that, despite the lack of empirical data on these topics, there is an abundance of alternative sources of information that circle in dance and somatic communities. This project also taught me a lot about myself and how I work. I learned that having conversations with people is extremely helpful for me when I am having trouble sorting out my ideas. I also found that I am prone to imposter syndrome but am able to push through the discomfort when I really need to. This experience has made me feel more confident in my skills as a student, writer, and content creator. I also have a new perspective on the work I do—I now understand that the details involved in the process of creating something are equally important as the final outcome.

If I could start this project again, I would try to listen to my intuition more. I came into this class knowing exactly what I wanted to do, but I was quickly derailed by self-doubt. I wish that I had allowed myself to make the decisions I was afraid of making right from the start rather than delaying the process with indecisiveness.

Instructor reflection:

There are so many aspects of your Engaged Project experience that impressed me – your commitment to academic rigor, your brave self-reflection at every stage, your willingness to do outreach and networking, and your high-quality writing, to name a few. Now I want you to know that you have important things to say. You have important knowledge and opinions to share! As your sponsor pointed out, most people do not feel “qualified” to do what they do in the beginning; they learn through doing and build confidence and experience along the way. I am excited to see how your confidence builds through increased public engagement — and how you ultimately impact others positively through that process.