Also known as dance movement therapy, dance therapy is based on the theory that a person’s movements reflect their thinking patterns and feelings. The aim of dance therapy, therefore, is to use dance and movement to facilitate emotional, mental, spiritual, and social growth.
The body is considered to be the main form of communication and dance therapy can, therefore, be particularly helpful for those who struggle to verbalise their thoughts and emotions. This type of therapy can be offered one-to-one or in groups.
As well as helping those who struggle to verbalise their emotions, it can be particularly beneficial for those who feel negatively towards their body, those who find it difficult to have physical contact with others, those who feel detached from everyday life, and those who have experienced abuse.
It can help to build self-esteem, improve social communication and relationships skills, and has been used to help with many conditions including:
- Body dysmorphic disorder
- Eating problems
- Family conflict
- Low self-esteem
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- And trauma
Each dance therapist will work differently, with some providing more structure and direction in the session and others providing little direction. Despite this, all dance therapists should adhere to the following principles:
- That the body and mind are interconnected
- That physical movement can express aspects of our personality
- That non-verbal means can be used to communicate part of the therapeutic relationship
- That the movements we make can represent our unconscious processes
- That improvisation and experimentation can help to bring about changes and new ways of being