Dance Movement Therapy

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Daylight, full of small dancing particles and the one great turning, our souls are dancing with you, without feet, they dance. Can you see them when I whisper in your ear?

(Rumi, 1260)

Dance movement therapy is all about listening to the body’s message. As small children we express our feelings long before we learn to talk. One of the ways humans talk is through body movements. Once we begin to speak, we forget that our bodies are still in touch with feelings that are worrying, embarrassing or simply hard to talk about.

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Why should I be aware of this?

This alternative therapy is known to help adults suffering from emotional problems including anxiety, depression and difficulties in terms of relationships. It can also help people suffering from Schizophrenia, manic depression disorder, anorexia and bulimia and even with drug and alcohol addiction patients.

Dance Movement therapy is also known to have successful results in people suffering from acute shyness, stammering, learning disability and stress related physical illnesses.

This movement has had particularly positive results amongst children especially those with limited ability to concentrate, emotional or learning difficulties and even those who find it hard to get along with other children. Children with behavioral problems resulting from family stresses, including physical or sexual abuse and even severely mentally handicapped children and those with Autism are successfully treated. Physically disabled children, such as the blind and deaf, may also benefit from the therapy.

All about dance movement therapy?

Dance Movement therapy uses the connection between body movement and emotion in order to help us express and manage feelings too deep to recognize or even difficult to put in words. It serves as an effective non-verbal form of psychotherapy.

History

From earliest times, most tribal communities and indigenous people have recognized the healing power of dance but modern societies did not become aware of its relevance to modern ailments until the mid 1940’s when dancers in the United States began to develop ways of using it to help people suffering form mental health problems.

According to the oral tradition handed down through generations of Middle Eastern women, belly dancing originated as an exercise during pregnancy, which helped women prepare their abdominal muscles for labour. Even today, dance therapy movements similar to those of belly dance are used as birth rituals in some Middle Eastern and North African communities. Women gather around a friend or family member undergoing labour, and perform the undulating movements as she prepares to give birth.

What can I do?

Consulting a therapist

In many countries the evolution of dance movement therapy is within education areas and community environments rather then in the mental health sphere. Treatment can be on an individual basis or for groups. Treatment also varies according to the clients needs and the therapists personal style. People need not have any previous experience with dance or such movements to benefit from this therapy. The emphasis is always on exploring movements and expanding the scope as one discovers resources within oneself.

Therapists work with all kinds of people- whether they are hyper, overweight, elderly and frail. All sessions are tailored to suit individual needs.

Contribute your own themes

You can contribute your own ideas to the therapy. In fact, that is something that is actively encouraged.

Sessions normally start with a warm up period to loosen muscles. Music can be used but is not essential. Most times , a theme will usually emerge from the movements and this would be explored by the patients working either as an individual, in pairs or in a group. For example, a theme that emerges might be the way in which a person always makes movements that are fast and forceful at first but then fizzles out; or even in the way in which a group always has its members moving at arm’s length, never coming closer but neither moving further apart.

Discuss your feelings

In the start of the therapy, the therapist would probably step in, picking up the theme that patients have introduced and use that to explore problems and help find solutions. Patients are also encouraged to discuss the feelings that arises during the therapy and integrate their insights into further movements so that there is a continuous interplay between feelings, talk and movement.

Therapists who work with severely disturbed or handicapped people do not rely on words. In fact, they use body language to support the patients through the experiences of excitement, sadness, frustration and fear that are part of normal development.

Tell your problems to the therapist

Always tell the therapist at the start about any health problems such as high blood pressure, back pain etc. Communicate with your therapist at any step to be comfortable.

90 degrees

Though modern medical science does not completely agree with the results, most conventional practitioners do agree that there are no risks involved in dance movement therapy so long as one is with a qualified therapist. Enough research is pointing in the direction that this movement has psychological and emotional benefits.

See Also

References:

  • What is dance movement therapy?
  • Learndirect
  • Dance-Movement Therapy Association of Australia
  • Dance/Movement Therapy
Discussion

An evolving area of specialization is using dance/movement therapy in disease prevention and health promotion programs and with those who have chronic medical conditions...... Read more inside