Dynamical Movement & Mindfulness in a Multi-Sensory Environment

September 12th, 2018

Contributed by Dr. Janice Ryan, OT

New Hope For Treatment... Mindful therapy in an MSE is a dynamical practice approach that is giving new hope for a variety of clients who are being challenged by adapting to their natural environments.


What is "Dynamical Movement?" Dynamical movement of thought patterns are unpredictable, because they develop as two-way exchanges between a person and their environment.


Follow the Bouncing Ball...If you follow a bouncing ball making its way across an uneven surface, you are observing a dynamical movement pattern. This pattern of movement demonstrates why a child who moves with a disorganized gait while in a busy store, can move in a more coordinated way to music in a multi-sensory environment. 


This also illustrates why a child with autism, who shuts down or has a melt-down in a noisy school hallway, can learn more when they are in a classroom where the teacher knows how to help them relax.


Mindfulness... Mindfulness is a state of present awareness that, when achieved by a therapist, allows for the use of "pattern logic" for predicting positive change potential in dynamical movement, thought, and behavior.


Why a White Canvas is Used... The already open and receptive perceptions of a mindful therapist are provided with a white canvas on which client actions, gesture patterns, and style of communication are enhanced for the observer.


Therapeutic MSEs are always white, because this provides the therapist with greater control over the environment. Mindfulness allows the therapist to create the “just right” environment for observing, understanding, and influencing a client’s dynamical patterns. 


What the Senses Seek... If the client is a sensory seeker, a mindful therapist can see what their behavior patterns ask for and how they can be influenced by the feeling of a specific light-music-touch perception experience. 


If the client is a sensory avoider, their behavior patterns may cue the mindful therapist to provide a very different environment that allows them to relax and then to expand into their full potential.


This is the way a mindful therapist can support a client as they learn and develop a greater adaptive capacity within an MSE, to take back and integrate into their natural life environments.


The Changing Role of a Therapist... Sometimes, a mindful therapist chooses to be part of the environment so that a client’s focus is on their relationship to objects, processes, and solitary experiences. Other times, a mindful therapist chooses to be an integral part of a client’s focus because human relationships are providing them with that “just right” therapeutic goal.




A bouncing ball illustrates the term, dynamical movement. Other examples would be the swinging of a clock pendulum or the rhythmic flow of ocean waves. 


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