Campo, Maika & Panhofer, Heidrun

Mowgly: creating a (professional) identity from the perspective of dance movement therapy

Maika Campo & Heidrun Panhofer

This paper portrays the experience of including a dance movement therapy (DMT) approach in an educational centre for young offenders. As shown by attachment theory, delinquency is higher in individuals who have suffered loss or separation in their early childhood, or who have grown up with insecure attachment styles.  This is a common feature amongst the boys arriving at the centre, as well as the lack of life projects and the incapacity of imagining a future. The ‘immediate’ seems the only reference to them – a clear sign of deficiency of a secure inner base from which to step out.

Integrating body work, movement, play, dance and creativity during the weekly tutorials with the young offenders allowed the creation of a more secure attachment with the boys. Similar to the early interactions between the caregiver and his/her child, this intercorporeal relationship aims to re-build a secure base.  Employed as a community worker for more than ten years, whose work should mainly focus on behavioural changes of the adolescents, this pilot project meant an important shift for Maika Campo’s work: more than emphasizing a change of their immediate actions, the movement tutorials helped construct a strong psychic structure for the adolescents, as much as it confirmed her identity as a dance movement therapist.

The vignette of Mowgly depicts some of the arising themes of how to deal with moments of crisis and pain in an educational centre for young offenders. It portrays how offering a body to interact with and a pair of eyes to witness facilitates the possibility for mutual change and transformation.


Heidrun Panhofer:  Co-founder, former President and supervising member of the Spanish Association of Dance Movement Therapy – ADMTE. PhD in DMT, University of Hertfordshire, England. Master in DMT, Laban Center for Movement and Dance, London City University, England. Compilation of the first book of Dance Movement Therapy in Spanish «The body in psychotherapy. Theory and Practice of Dance Movement Therapy». Teacher in several masters in DMT in Spain and other countries.


Maika Campo: BA in Psychology from the University of the Basque Country (San Sebastian, Spain) in 2001. Master’s degree in DMT from the Autonomous University of Barcelona (Barcelona-Spain) in 2010. Registered member of the Spanish DMT Association. Community Worker in Ibaiondo Educational Center since 2006. From 2011 to 2015 DMT in workshops for women immersed in migration projects and within empowerment activities. Member of the educational team in the Autonomous University of Barcelona since 2014.

Recent Publications

Panhofer, H., Campo, M. & Rodríguez R. (2018). ¡Con-muévete y mueve el mundo! Jornadas para la celebración del 15º aniversario del máster en Danza Movimiento Terapia. Barcelona: UAB

Karampoula, E. & Panhofer, H. (2018).  The circle in dance movement therapy: A literature review. The Arts in Psychotherapy, 58, 27–32.

Panhofer, H. (2017). Body memory and its recuperation through movement. In: Karkou, V., Oliver, S. & Lycouris, S. (Eds.) The Oxford Handbook of Dance and Wellbeing. Oxford:  University Press, 115 - 128.

Barnet-López, S., Pacheco, M., Panhofer, H., Zelaskowski, P., Pérez-Testor, S., Guerra-Balic, M. (2016).  La alianza terapéutica en la DMT con pacientes con discapacidad intelectual. Estudio de caso. Revista de Psicoterapia, 27 (104), 233 – 251.

Panhofer, H., Bräuninger, I. & Zelaskowski, P. (2016). Dance movement therapy training: the challenges of interculturality and cross-cultural communication within a diverse student group-analytic large group In: Dokter, D. & Hills De Zárate, M. (Eds.) Intercultural Arts Therapies Research. Issues and methodologies..London: Routledge.

Panhofer, H. & MacDonalds, J. (2016). Moviéndonos hasta el final de nuestros días. Cuidados paliativos a través de la Danza Movimiento Terapia. Arteterapia: Papeles de arteterapia y educación artística para la inclusión social. Vol. 10 (2015).