What Happens During a Dance Therapy Session?
Dance/Movement Therapy (DMT) is a type of therapy that uses movement to help participants 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.
At Honey Lake Clinic, dance movement therapy is used in correlation with other forms of treatment and education, offering you a deeper awareness of self and a perfect environment in which to explore your feelings, behaviors and interactions with others.
What happens during a dance therapy session?
Dance therapy sessions can look very different depending on the clinician, client, and setting. There are a variety of techniques and styles of dance/movement therapy. Each therapist finds his or her own way to sculpt a practice matching the needs and abilities of their client.
In a dance therapy setting, a therapist can observe movements, assess body language, nonverbal behaviors and emotional expressions to address your specific needs. Movement is the primary way dance therapists observe, evaluate, and implement therapeutic intervention.
Dance Therapy Techniques and Benefits
Dance therapy may include a wide variety of different dance and movement activities and techniques in addressing your needs. A few examples include—
Mirroring. Matching and echoing movements can show empathy and validate what you are feeling. A therapist may mirror your movements, or have participants mirror for one another, allowing each person to see a reflection of themselves.
Movement Metaphors. Using a movement metaphor or prop can help you physically and expressively demonstrate a therapeutic challenge or achievement. For example: a therapist may give a participant 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 nonverbal movements into insights that can be used in recovery.
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.
Feelings and life experiences live inside your 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 used in correlation with other therapies to help you achieve 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 you address your health across all three spheres—spirit, mind and body—offering you your greatest potential for wholeness and transformative growth.