What are Some Dance Movement Therapy Techniques?
Dance/Movement Therapy (DMT) is a type of therapy that uses movement to help individuals achieve emotional, cognitive, physical, and social integration. Beneficial for both physical and mental health, dance therapy can be used for stress reduction, disease prevention, and mood management. DMT has become a popular and successful therapeutic approach.
DMT can be used with all populations and with individuals, couples, families, or groups. In general, dance therapy promotes self-awareness, self-esteem, and a safe space for the expression of feelings.
At Honey Lake Clinic, dance movement therapy is used in correlation with other forms of treatment and education, offering clients a deeper awareness of themselves and a perfect environment in which to explore their feelings, behaviors and interactions with others.
How Effective is Dance/Movement Therapy?
Research suggests dance therapy can be effective in the treatment of mental health issues like disordered eating, depression, and anxiety. Some recent examples include:
- A study from the journal The Arts in Psychotherapy (2007) found that dance therapy had a positive effect on participants experiencing symptoms of depression.
- A study from the American Journal of Dance Therapy (2004), in which 54 students participated in a dance therapy violence prevention program, found that aggression among participants decreased and pro-social behaviors increased.
- A study from Alzheimer’s Care Today (2009) suggests that DMT can directly improve memory recall in people with dementia.
- A literature review from the American Journal of Dance Therapy indicated that DMT may be a treatment option for children on the autism spectrum.
Dance Therapy Techniques and Benefits
Dance therapists may utilize a number of different dance and movement activities and techniques in addressing client needs. A couple of examples include—
Mirroring. Matching and echoing movements can show empathy and validate what a person is feeling. A therapist may mirror a client’s movements, or have clients mirror for one another, allowing participants to see a reflection of themselves.
Movement Metaphors. Using a movement metaphor or prop can help a person physically and expressively demonstrate a therapeutic challenge or achievement. For example: a therapist may give a person in treatment a white flag to celebrate emotional surrender.
Jumping Rhythms. Therapists may incorporate jumping into a dance for clients experiencing depression because research has shown decreased levels of vertical movement in people with depression.
Important skills can be acquired during the dance movement therapy process. Here is a short list of some of those skills—
- Learning how to develop and trust your ability to be present empathetically.
- Being able to respond authentically and truthfully.
- Learning how to translate the nonverbal movements into insights that can be used in recovery.
Feelings and life experiences live inside the body and can get trapped there. The body can be the key to unlocking profound levels of healing. DMT is not a dance class. It is a therapeutic exposure that can be used in conjunction with other therapies to help access genuine, long lasting change.
Dance movement therapy is another example of the unique treatment options available at Honey Lake Clinic which enable us to help clients address their health across all three spheres—spirit, mind and body—offering each client his or her greatest potential for wholeness and transformative growth.