The Movement for Wellbeing programme is for professionals working in people-centred roles, such as social workers, therapists, special needs teachers, nurses and doctors-

  • To increase awareness of the sensitivity and needs of people who have sensory loss, physical and intellectual needs. 
  • To improve skills in people-centred professions such as empathy, non-verbal communication and informed touch when working with clients of all ages, abilities and sensitivities.
  • To bring the benefits of Movement for Wellbeing to their place of work by becoming a facilitator of a weekly group session with their residents or clients.

This training has been developed since 2015, through residency, practice and research while working with residents and staff of the Anne Sullivan Centre for the Deafblind, the National Council for the Blind, St Michaels House, Vision Sport Ireland, St John of God Outreach Services, Laura Lynn Foundation, Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council initatives such as Rhythm Club and with Community groups across Ireland.

It featured as the cover-story of Health & Living in the Irish Independent in 2018- click below to read the article.

Dancing in the dark – A pioneering dance workshop is helping people experience the world without sight.”

Course Objective:

The purpose of this programme is to give professionals working in the arts, health, therapy and social care services the skillset to provide movement for wellbeing classes in their places of work, to enable:

  • Greater opportunity for client self-expression (especially those who are non-verbal),
  • Social engagement with others
  • Opportunity to experience a level power dynamic that invites them to be the leader and
  • Improve communication between participants and their key-worker, teacher, therapist and family members.

Course Content:

The programme consists of dance exercises inspired by Contact Improvisation and Contemporary dance practices. The use of touch is essential to the work so participants develop skills in sensing and communicating through touch, enabling them to feel confident in dancing.

Participants will be introduced to Social Haptic Touch, a non-verbal language that was developed as a short hand form of communication for people who are deafblind which offers additional value for those who are blind especially in relation to giving and receiving directional and environmental information. Laura has stayed in direct contact with the developers of this communication model since meeting them in 2016.

The programme will support participants in learning and facilitating –

  • discovery and expression through dance practices,
  • an environment that encourages self-confidence
  • increased body-awareness,
  • improving proprioception- strength, coordination and stability,
  • enhanced tactile skill, informed touch and social haptic communication methods to enhance environmental awareness and social interactions,
  • social engagement, new friendships and social confidence
  • techniques for improved physical and mental wellbeing

Who is the training suitable for?

      • Doctors, Nurses, Therapists, Social Care workers, Physical Therapists, Social Studies students, Communications students have taken these workshops to-date and found their learning added value to their professional lives.
      • People who wish to integrate wellbeing activities into their work or home life
      • Professionals wishing to work in an integrated, pan-ability setting promoting social-inclusion.
      •  Professionals who wish to improve their non-verbal communication skills

How can I use this training?

  • Add value by bringing Movement for Wellbeing workshops to your place of work, it benefits staff as well as the clients as it increases morale, staff-carer relationships and creates a positive atmosphere
  • As a team-building workshop for teams or organisations interested in the themes of this work

Course Format:

  • Collaborative, individual and reflective tasks
  • Interactive learning through demonstration, group practice and partner work practice
  • Physically engaging with multiple focus points
  • Self- notated as well as hand-outs
  • Video recordings of tasks to assist learning and revision
  • Peer practice as final assessment

Course Learning Intentions:

  • Confidence in facilitating the physical and creative wellbeing practices
  • Integration of learning into existing skillset and work-home life
  • Personal practice and reflection on task experiences
  • Ability to assess, engage and support different participant needs
  • Implementation of collaborative and individual wellbeing practices
  • Ability to introduce exercises to enhance: Expression, Relaxation, Concentration, Engagement, Stress Management, Self Care

Course Details:

Movement for Wellbeing is available in two formats as a six week training of 2 hours per week with one short break.

The maximum number of attendees per workshop would be 15 people to ensure the quality of the learning experience and enable one to one observation and feedback for participants.


The learning in this programme is specific to developing empathy for people with dual-sensory loss and developing the awareness to better relate, support and communicate with people who are deafblind. Part of the learning will take place with eyes closed and noise cancelling headphones during partner work where the other person has eyes open.

During the programme participants will experience and learn movement tasks that support co-ordination, proprioception, balance, empathy, communication* and creative expression.

*Elements of social haptic communication as developed by Riitta Lahtinen and Russ Palmer are introduced and explored within touch based tasks that develop sensitivity and understanding of all that touch can communicate.


Training includes learning:

How to facilitate key aspects involved in Movement for Wellbeing Workshops and one-to-one sessions and how to adapt to different client needs, mobility and social ease.

Accessible Movement practices taught include:

  • Chair Yoga,
  • Breathing practices to calm the body and mind,
  • Creative Dance and Improvisation
  • Informed touch- Touch that is self-aware, sensitised and clear; directional, communicative and informative; including an introduction to social haptic communication techniques such as: mapping and body stories
  • Partner-work and group- work
  • Creative exercises to improve co-ordination, reflexes and body awareness
  • Techniques to help relieve anxiety, tension and emotion through movement, sound and soothing touch practices

Course Facilitator:

Laura Sarah Dowdall is a professional dancer, movement therapist, yoga and wellbeing expert who has been interviewed for articles in the Health Supplement of the Irish Times, Positive Life Magazine, on TV3 and Irish radio for her expertise working with adults and children of all ages and abilities.

She believes in an integrated approach to wellbeing that holds the client’s immeditate emotional, physical and mental needs first and foremost. She works one to one, in group and workshop settings with adults and children in schools, health organisations and residential centres for adults with additional needs. Her full bio is here!

Laura is the founder of Healing Yoga, Movement for Wellbeing and the Running Blind Accessible Dance Project. The latter project gives people of all background, abilities and ages access to the wellbeing and social benefits of dance. It particularly invites people who are blind, deafblind and deaf to dance and feel more integrated into their communities. This programme has been recognised by Social Entrepreneurs Ireland as an initiative impacting social change in Ireland.

For further details on Movement for Wellbeing Teacher Training please contact:

Learn more about Dance Ability here-

Feedback from the 2018 Workshops from the NCBI:

“It was so lovely to see people who are blind, visually impaired or deaf-blind moving freely around the room, with no mobility aids which some of them would use on a daily basis.  The sense of freedom and safety was felt right through. For me, as a mobility trainer, the Running Blind Integrated Project gives people who are visually impaired or blind, an opportunity to learn how to tune in more into their own bodies as well as their environment .It helps to enhance their ability to respond more appropriately to the environmental clues while traveling independently and therefor to built up their confidence around independent travel, where safety is a main issue. I would recommend this workshop to anyone who is interested in developing their self-awareness and/ or is interested in movement and its influence on our wellbeing.”

  • Aleksandra Okupinska, Community Resource Worker and Mobility and Orientation Instructor for the National Council for the Blind (NCBI)


Feedback from weekly workshops at the Anne Sullivan Centre for the Deafblind:

“There is a sense of group collaboration with each person receiving individual interaction and attention from Laura and and responding by participating in their own individual way. This can be by following a suggested movement or improvising their own individual movement response . It can also be Laura following a person’s movement and showing them she is nearby and has acknowledged their movement.

I have seen Service users appear relaxed, smiling as they move and express themselves. I have also seen a service user improvise a dance and show a sense of pride and awareness that what they did was their own creation.”

  • Stephen Shephard, Support Worker Co-ordinator, Anne Sullivan Centre


Participant Feedback from post-workshop focus group discussion:

Participants to date have cited increased self-confidence, heightened spatial awareness, and a strengthened ability to ‘listen’ through their senses (especially through their feet) which has dramatically improved and supported their daily lives.

* “I thought dance was impossible, these workshops have made the impossible possible”

*‘My self-confidence has improved…through this session, I feel good about myself.’

* “Now I understand that listening is not just with your ears but your whole body”

* “I can feel the world through my feet”

* “I deepened my understanding of touch as a form of communication”

* “I experienced a universal language”

* “We are all equal here”

Read More Participant Feedback by clicking here!*

*All benefits are based on direct feedback from participants of the 2017 programme.

For more info –

Here is a video of the 2017 workshop with the NCBI members: