Other common name(s): movement therapy
Dance therapy is the therapeutic use of movement to improve the mental and physical well-being of a person. It focuses on the connection between the mind and body to promote health and healing. Dance therapy can be considered an expressive therapy.
Few scientific studies have been done to evaluate the effects of dance therapy on health, prevention, and recovery from illness. Clinical reports suggest dance therapy may be effective in improving self-esteem and reducing stress. As a form of exercise, dance therapy can be useful for both physical and emotional aspects of quality of life.
How is it promoted for use?
Dance therapy is offered as a health promotion service for healthy people and as a complementary method of reducing the stress of caregivers and people with cancer and other chronic illnesses. Physically, dance therapy can provide exercise, improve mobility and muscle coordination, and reduce muscle tension.
Emotionally, dance therapy is reported to improve self-awareness, self-confidence, and interpersonal interaction, and is an outlet for communicating feelings. Some promoters claim that dance therapy may strengthen the immune system through muscular action and physiological processes and can even help prevent disease. Dance therapy is based on the belief that the mind and body work together. Through dance, it is thought that people can identify and express their innermost emotions, bringing those feelings to the surface. Some people claim this can create a sense of renewal, unity, and completeness.
What does it involve?
Dance therapists help people develop a nonverbal language that offers information about what is going on in their bodies. The therapist observes a person’s movements to make an assessment and then designs a program to help the specific condition. The frequency and level of difficulty of the therapy is usually tailored to meet the needs of the participants. Dance therapy is used in a variety of settings with people who have social, emotional, cognitive, or physical concerns. It is often used as a part of the recovery process for people with chronic illness. Dance therapists work with both individuals and groups, including entire families.
American Journal of Dance Therapy Publication of the American Dance Therapy Association, is published twice a year. This journal of the American Dance Therapy Association reports the latest findings in dance/movement therapy theory, research, and clinical practice. The American Journal of Dance Therapy (AJDT) presents original contributions, case material, reviews, and studies by leading educators and practitioners in the field.