Moving the Mood

Moving the Mood

This is a Movement Psychotherapy group using a mind/body intervention for adults who experiencing depressive symptoms and/or anxiety.These movement therapy sessions merge the advantages of multiple mind body practices .

The session will be guided, using somatic and movement therapy combined with simple Tai Chi and Qi Gong movements which are chosen for their therapeutic affect. This is not a class, we will use the movements for their therapeutic benefit but not focus on form or technique.

Research suggests that Tai Chi and Qi Gong may help improve your mood if you are depressed or anxious. It’s also believed that the slow, mindful breaths and movements have a positive effect on the nervous system and mood-regulating hormones.


I am a registered Dance Movement Psychotherapist. In my private practice, I provide a creative and calm space to work towards better mental and physical health. The body and mind are intrinsically connected and Movement Psychotherapy is a process of making sense of blocks, confusions and overwhelming experiences in the body, for a balanced sense of self. I have decades of experience of working with movement and applying the therapeutic model to a variety of client needs. I have a deep understanding of the relationship between psyche and soma – recognising the body’s physical system and how it interfaces with our mindful self. I am also an experienced Tai Chi & Qi Gong instructor. Tai Ch, Qi Gong and Movement Psychotherapy stem from very different times and cultures. Yet they share many features in common. All emphasize mindful movement and place a high value on self-sensing or conscious interoception (the profound state of attention to, and awareness of, one’s own body). Another feature they share is the use of posture and gesture.

For some time, I have been following the research into Tai Chi and Qi Gong with mood disorders. As someone with lived experience of depression who also studies, practices and teaches Tai Chi, I recognise the benefits for myself, and as a Movement Psychotherapist I wanted to dig into the underlying factors.


Research suggests that Tai Chi and Qi Gong may alleviate depressive symptoms, both from the viewpoint of western neuroscience and Traditional Chinese Medicine. Among many other reasons, this is because they help to regulate the autonomic nervous system and modulate the activity and connectivity of key brain regions involved in mood regulation. There is also an indication that the dynamic and static body postures which are a defining characteristic of Tai Chi and Qigong are likely to contribute to their effects on mood.

Scientific studies have shown that stress, trauma, anxiety, and depression have physical symptoms in addition to emotional and mental symptoms. One aspect of Movement Psychotherapy is moving with full body awareness, focusing more on how you’re feeling rather than aiming for artistry or performance. It’s a way to connect your emotions to how you’re feeling physically and can benefit both the body and mind in profound ways.

Some studies encourage psychologists to incorporate Tai Chi into their clinical practice, however there is no quick route – it takes many years to understand Tai Chi and become a skilled practitioner. Tai Chi and Qi Gong are inherently beneficial for wellbeing, and learning the traditional forms can be immensely satisfying and rewarding. However, some people find the combination of movements too challenging and others struggle to learn and remember the structured forms. Therefore, the studies advocate developing a simplified and tailored Tai Chi protocol for patients with depression, and/or developing new mind–body interventions merging advantages of multiple mind–body exercises.

Eminent psychiatrist, Dr Albert Yeung is also a martial artist, and Chinese medical doctor Dr Aihan Khun is a master of tai chi and qi gong. Each have created their own adapted tai chi forms for depression and I have studied and been inspired by their work. However I felt that bringing Movement Psychotherapy into the mix could only enhance the outcome. I have also taken inspiration from Arts for Blues, which brings together multiple creative therapies as an intervention for depression and for which I am one of the training team.

Moving the Mood

In Moving the Mood I have brought together the aspects of Tai Chi and Qi Gong which research has highlighted as therapeutic and enhancing them with somatic and body-oriented elements from my Movement Psychotherapy practice.

In these sessions I use what I think of as Somatic Tai Chi. This means that the emphasis is on the Ting Jing (listening skill) element of interoceptive awareness, not the martial aspect, and that the movement serves a therapeutic purpose rather than developing skill or performance.

Because the emphasis in these sessions is on the mental health benefits, particularly in relation to depressive symptoms, Moving the Mood uses a simple structure of movements chosen for their therapeutic qualities. The movements retain the essential characteristics of Tai Chi but the focus is not on form or technique. Movements are repeated several times and there is no requirement to remember a sequence.

Similarly, with Qi Gong, moving the body is not about about accomplishing a physical goal but serves as a way to access awareness and support regulation, as is the case with somatic movement. 

A typical session

Although Tai Chi & Qi Gong movements form the core of the sessions, they are held in a therapeutic framework. At the start and end of the sessions we check in and out with somatic aspects of Movement Psychotherapy such as body scanning, breathwork and grounding. Simple, guided activities are also included. Throughout the sessions, participants are encouraged to pay attention to the sensations in their body. If thoughts, feeling or emotions arise – appropriate support will be offered.