What is Dance/Movement Therapy?
Dance/movement therapy is the psychotherapeutic use of movement as a form of communication and self-expression that promotes social, emotional, cognitive, and physical well being1.
It is a form of therapy that emphasizes the mind-body connection. Dance/movement therapy does not involve teaching a set movement style or technique, but rather the therapist working with the client using natural, genuine movement and building a relationship with the client through movement. In this way the therapist can help the client expand skills and provide new tools for the client to develop a better understanding of self, others, and environment.
Who Benefits From Dance/Movement Therapy?
Dance/movement therapy is accessible to people of all ages, ethnic backgrounds, races, genders identities, and abilities, because movement is a universal language. Whether you are dancing to music, gesturing toward someone, walking, or even breathing you are moving. Dance/movement therapy uses various forms of natural and expressive movement to support people with psychological, social, developmental, medical, and physical impairments1.
Dance/movement therapy can address the same goals as traditional talk therapy. Some of those goals may include but are not limited to: improving self-esteem and body image, building social skills, increasing coping skills, building self-awareness, and increasing emotional awareness. In an outpatient setting, people with anxiety, depression, ADHD, mood disorders, Autism, perinatal mental health challenges, anger management issues, body image issues, relational issues, and low-self esteem may benefit from dance/movement therapy.
What to Expect in a Dance/Movement Therapy Session…
Any psychotherapy session regardless of the modality used for treatment (talking, dancing, art, play, etc.) will look different depending on the goals, needs, abilities and interests of the client. However, in a dance/movement therapy session the client can expect some movement and processing of a movement experience whether movement is part of the session or the majority of the session.
For example, in a session with a child struggling with self-regulation dance/movement therapy may include exploring through movement starting and stopping, fast vs slow, and moving with props that inspire focus and calmness. In a session with an adult struggling with anxiety and depression, movement may become a means of exploring relaxation techniques, embodied self-care, and self-awareness through symbolic movement explorations, mirroring, breath, and prop use. Dance/movement therapists may also incorporate other modalities, including: talking, art, play, music, drama, and writing into session work as well to complement the movement experiences. These are general ideas intended to give some insight into the dance/movement therapy experience, but are by no means intended to be an exhaustive explanation of the potential of dance/ movement therapy.
If you are interested in dance/movement therapy as a means of exploring your mental health needs or feel dance/movement therapy may be beneficial for your child please consider completing the new client registration form on our website to connect with our intake team.
*1 Admin, A. (n.d.). FAQ. Retrieved October 26, 2020, from https://www.adta.org/faq
Ashley Abesamra, BC-DMT, LMHC, MA
Board – Certified Dance/Movement Therapist and Psychotherapist