On my recent trip to Montreal, Canada, I met with Cindy Navratil of Joy-A Danse, a therapy center that integrates life coaching, music, and dance. With a background in psychology, communication, neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), and dance, Cindy is the creator of Joy-A’s innovative methods and trains practitioners in East Canada, France, and Morocco.
Her methods were profoundly inspired by her late father who dealt with acute drug addiction for the majority of his life. For years, doctors, social workers, detox centers, and other traditional methods failed. To gain the skills and knowledge to help, Cindy earned a psychology degree, but even this was ineffective. Unexpectedly, while traveling in Spain, she met a preacher from her hometown who, upon his return to Canada, invited Cindy’s father to help renovate his church. Cindy’s father accepted and started pouring himself into a mural project. Later he was asked to join the chorus, which he did. This had a social function; he met friends, and as Cindy explained,
It was the first time of all my life that I saw him sober, and it was through art; he was glowing. I think it was that day that I realized wow! this, this is so-so-so powerful.
He tried for 35 years to get clean, but it wasn’t until he found identity, community, and purpose in his art that he succeeded. Cindy remarked that trying to convince people with words is useless,
We don’t change because of reason or rationality. We change because of emotion.
This doesn’t only apply to helping people with addictions, it pertains to people in general. Cindy’s father overcame his addictions because he was emotionally connected to the work. Painting, singing, and dancing are forms of play, and research persistently illustrates that learning is accelerated in virtually all fields when a person is having fun. According to Cindy, this is the most ignored element of our modern world,
We are disconnected from sensation, and art brings sensation.
Perhaps the reason Joy-A Danse’s methods are so successful is because the arts, especially music and dance, connect us to our emotions and amplify our senses. In his acclaimed book titled, “How the Mind Works,”cognitive scientists, Steven Pinker, explains,
Music appears to be a pure pleasure technology, a cocktail of recreational drugs that we ingest through the ear to stimulate a mass of pleasure circuits at once.
If this is true, employing music and dance as therapy is an obvious treatment. I want to thank Cindy for being brave enough to follow her intuition, create a powerful art based therapy, and share her powerful story.