VMT and Self Harm

I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect when I arrived at my first session of VMT, I was really nervous and spent a while more sitting there trying to encourage myself to get out and walk inside. Desperation was eventually what pushed me over the line to have the confidence to do it because quite simply, I felt like this group might be my last chance to overcome self injury.

Greeted by friendly people bearing yoga mats, I and four other young women sat down on the floor to begin 10 weeks of the experience that was VMT! It was slightly odd sitting in a group of people you’ve never met, knowing why you are all there but no one is really saying it. I’d not done any type of group therapy before and it was a very new experience for me. Everyone involved was really lovely and supportive and over time I felt some barriers come down inside me and I could feel mostly comfortable, always looking forward to the next session.

To me VMT is singing, walking, sitting, breathing, talking, writing, and sticking feathers and beads to coloured cardboard; it is moving and thinking, challenging and expressing myself, drawing, stretching, lying down and imagining, laughing, smiling, yelling, creativity and silliness. Sometimes it is difficult and uncomfortable, but never unbearably so. Sophie would encourage us to try things, but only to the limit and not past what we could handle – I would discover something about myself in those times. I always felt safe, cared for and respected within the group.

During VMT I found my real voice. It probably sounds weird to say that, because I have always had a voice, but now I feel that I understand more about it and its importance in my life. I can feel and hear where it comes from inside me, how it moves and changes. My voice can communicate so much of what I want to say, not just the words but also the emotion. I understand there is a relationship between my voice and my body. The movement aspect of this therapy has taught me different things about how my body reacts and carries different situations and feelings. I have a greater understanding of how my body and mind are connected. I have been fortunate enough to find a psychologist I trust and have been able to build rapport with which has helped immensely and after spending a considerable amount of time working with her, I feel better understand my mind and how it works and how to manage different things. Learning to better understand my voice and body was like a missing piece of what I needed to begin to move through a lot of issues I’d been struggling with.

Three months on and I can honestly say I spend very little to no time rolling on the floor, imagining myself as an alien with no arms, or drawing my personal space bubble with pastels. What I can say though, is that as silly as some of these things may sound – you really just need to try it! I truly believe in the validity and usefulness of VMT as an option for those struggling with self injury. Different people respond to different things, what I took from the group, and what strategies and idea I continue to use may be completely different to the other people in my group. I do still draw, write and sing, as well as practice breathing and allow myself to imagine. VMT has helped me to develop a part of me that has probably always existed, but needed some extra attention. I think sometimes we need to try something different, something a bit daunting and new in order to bring about positive change. I more and more feel like a whole person, there are many different aspects to me, and self injury has been one of those – but it does not define me. Three months on and I am not self injuring – it is difficult sometimes and I’ve had setbacks, I still think about doing it everyday, but I feel so much more confident that I can do this. I am doing this. I haven’t had a “lightning bolt” moment and nothing has drastically changed overnight, it has been a consistent process of change, learning and growth for me to get to where I am now, and I am still changing, learning and growing – I hope to never stop doing so. VMT has played a significant part in my life journey. Life to me now feels as though it holds so much more opportunity, joy, beauty and meaning.

Tegan Jeffreys (24, Brisbane)