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Psychoballet: a therapy for the soul in Cuba
This therapy has benefited more than 20,000 patients with special needs caused by emotional, mental, physical and sensory alterations and disabilities.

In order to know more about this therapeutic model that has been praised and assumed by several countries in America and Europe, Cubasí talked to psychologist María Josefa Arissó Garrido, head of the "Bernabé Ordáz" Psychiatric Hospital Psychoballet Department.

- When and where did this therapeutic method begin in Cuba?

- It officially began at the Psychiatric Hospital of Havana on February 21, 1973. It had emerged empirical and experimentally five years before, when its creator used some ballet elements within other therapies, such as game and group therapies, specifically in children who had progressed very little with other treatments.

- What groups of patients can this therapeutic model be used with?

- At first, the work began with groups of teenagers and youths with behavioural disorders. Later, it incorporated groups of children with emotional disorders, deep and severe learning difficulties, hearing disorders, chronic psychiatric patients and the elderly.

"Starting in 1993 it incorporated groups of severe physically disabled patients, specifically from the Solidarity with Panama School, where we render services, as well as groups of teenagers and youths who have committed offenses and are in criminal institutions.

"They have assumed the therapy with a lot of motivation, weve managed to adapt hideous behaviours, improve their interpersonal relationships, and change their motive hierarchy: theyve assumed aspects from art, dance and benefited from the physical and psychological point of view.

"Nowadays the method is used with several groups of people, regardless their disability or pathology".

- What are the approach and the objectives of the treatment?

- This is a group and personalized approach because it takes the individual differences into account. For example, when we work with children with visual difficulties, who have preserved their hearing sense, we use rhythm; with the deaf or hypoacusic, pantomime and body expression.

"With Psychoballet we intend to reach a development of muscular coordination, movement control, the sense of position and rhythm; to develop potentialities regardless the disability; to encourage new interests, to change the motivational sphere; to strengthen the development of personality within the group, the sense of individual responsibility and collective success; to improve interpersonal relationships and communication: to improve knowledge, creativity and aesthetic education; to increase the social integration of the disabled person".

- Where are professionals trained to apply this method?

- Apart from Havana, we know theres a psychologist in Baracoa, in the easternmost end of the country, who applies Psychoballet method. Its also being applied in the Matanzas province, but we need to admit that the greater number of followers are from Latin America, where theres a variety of doctorate and masters studies on the topic.

"This method is being applied in Mexico, Brazil, Puerto Rico, Panama, Uruguay, Argentina, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Spain and Martinique, countries with which we have a working agreement.

- How long should this therapy last?

- Participants should be at least seven or eight months with a one-hour weekly frequency.

- If you could define Psychoballet in one word, what will it be?

- Love.


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