"When I speak of singing, I do not consider it only as an artistic exercise, but as a possibility and means of knowing oneself".

Alfred Wolfsohn

What is Voice Movement Therapy?

VMT is the only expressive arts therapy that uses the voice as its main mode of expression. The work is both creative and therapeutic, as it is based on the idea that the voice is closely linked to our emotions and affected by our psychological circumstances. By exploring different vocal qualities and grounding the voice in the body, we can uncover and transform unconscious emotions, and bring awareness to and express unheard aspects of the self. The personal story and emotions that emerge are contained and processed through song, enactment, voice and movement exploration. Through this process, we discover new parts of the voice and begin to develop more flexibility, durability and creative potential for our singing and speaking voices.

Who is Voice Movement Therapy for?

VMT is ideal for people who seek fuller expression in their lives, singers who want to further develop their voices, artists who want to enhance their creativity, and anyone wishing to experience growth and change through voice. VMT focuses on expression rather than technique and no previous singing experience is necessary.

Voice Movement Therapy can help to:
  • Develop a stronger, more flexible and embodied voice
  • Improve vitality, confidence and assertiveness through empowering the voice and body
  • Release physical tension, inhibitions and performance anxiety
  • Enhance creativity and find new ways to create songs and to improvise with sound, words and images
  • Develop better resources to manage stress, anxiety, depression and traumatic experiences
  • Feel more 'in touch' with your sense of self,  and more connected to your body and subconscious emotions

A Brief History of Voice Movement Therapy

Alfred Wolfsohn was a German Jewish medic who served in World War I. After being unable to save his comrade from a collapsing trench and witnessing them being buried alive, Wolfsohn developed post traumatic stress disorder. His symptoms included aural hallucinations where he heard the screams of his dying comrades. Unable to cure himself through psychotherapy, Wolfsohn started experimenting with reproducing the screams vocally in an attempt to exorcise the voices. He went on to develop a system of therapeutic voicework, which he eventually started practicing and teaching to others.

One of Wolfsohn's students was actor Roy Hart, who took over the work when Wolfsohn died. He founded the Roy Hart Theatre, where he experimented with non-verbal theatre, extended vocal range, and the relationship between voice and the actor's personal life.

Paul Newham (author of The Singing Cure), who was born in the UK in the year that Wolfsohn died, combined the work of Wolfsohn and Hart and also incorporated a psychotherapeutic element, drawing on Jung's ideas of active imagination, archetypes and the Shadow, as well as some of the body psychotherapy principles of Wilhelm Reich. Newham founded Voice Movement Therapy in the late 1980s in the UK, where he ran a number of trainings and a private practice.

In recent years, VMT has been further developed by some of Newham's colleagues, including Anne Brownell and Christine Isherwood, who ran a series of trainings in USA in the early 2000s. The work is continuing to grow and expand, with practitioners currently practicing VMT in many different parts of the world. The last two international trainings have taken place in South Africa, where there is now a growing VMT community.