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Dance therapy, also known as dance/ movement therapy (DMT), emerged in the 1940s as early innovators, began to realize the benefit of using dance and movement as a form of psychotherapy. This form of therapy relies on movement as the primary tool to address clinical goals. It aims to promote emotional, social, cognitive, and physical integration of the individual, for the purpose of improving health and well-being. Further, empirical evidence suggests that dance/ movement therapy may be a valuable approach to strengthening aspects of the self, particularly in children. The American Dance Therapy Association (ADTA) explains that dance/ movement therapy relies on the following premises: 

  • Movement is a language that begins in utero and this nonverbal communication continues throughout the lifespan. 
  • Mind, body, and spirit are interconnected.
  • Movement can be functional, communicative, developmental, and expressive. 
  • Movement is both an assessment tool and a primary mode of intervention.

Dance/ movement therapists rely on various methods during sessions, such as creative and expressive dance and movement, role-playing, gross and perceptual motor activities, and a blend of improvised and structured movement experiences, to introduce and nurture its healing elements (e.g., rhythm, synchrony, vitalization, integration, cohesion, and symbolism). It can be used with children who have an array of social, emotional, psychological, cognitive, and/ or physical concerns.

Benefits Of DMT

Dance is an embodied activity and, when applied therapeutically, is known to have several specific and unspecific benefits. A randomized pilot study, for example, concluded that the utilization of grounding techniques (focusing on stability and balance), which are integral to DMT, increases awareness of physical abilities, strengthens sensory perception and the sense of security, enhances sensory awareness, and contributes to mental relaxation. Findings from other studies further indicate that dance/ movement therapy techniques can improve body awareness, somatic sensations, and mental experiences. DMT allows kids to use movement to express a wide range of emotions. A systematic review investigating the effects of dance interventions on aspects of the self (e.g., self-concept/ self-esteem) found that dance therapy produced notable benefits in children and adolescents, such as enhanced body-related perceptions, greater self-trust, and improved self-esteem. 

Further Information and Support

For most of us, life can be very stressful, leading us to feel emotionally charged, which can cause anxiety, panic attacks, depression, and getting stuck in a cycle of being burdened with negative thoughts. Navigating through the challenges and emotional turmoil of life can be overwhelming, but you do not have to go through it alone. Engage Treatment is a Joint Commission Accredited professional psychological practice. We specialize in treating children, teens, and young adults struggling with depression and anxiety through community-focused treatment plans that incorporate a carefully selected combination of therapeutic interventions. Our compassionate, multidisciplinary practitioners are devoted to providing the highest quality of care that helps ignite positive change and enables clients to reach optimal health and well-being. Please do not hesitate to reach out for guidance. We are happy to answer questions and provide you with any additional information. Feel free to call us at 805-497-0605 or email us at [email protected]. You are also welcomed to get in touch by filling out our contact form. We look forward to connecting and having the opportunity to discuss how we might best be able to support you.

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