Dance therapy can be
defined as the healing system that makes use of movement and dance, on
psychotherapeutic level, to treat emotional, cognitive, social, behavioral and
physical problems. It aims at the connection between the body and the mind,
with the overall well-being of a person being the core objective. The therapy
works on the premise that movements and emotions are directly related to each
other and by affecting the former, we have can have a positive effect on the
latter as well. Apart from dance therapy, it is also known by the name of dance
movement therapy and movement psychotherapy.
The basic premise
behind the dance therapy is that “the body and mind are inseparable”, in
fact they always go hand in hand. Apart from this, there are certain other
principles around which the overall therapy revolves. These are:
§ The body and mind
are in constant interaction with one other. So, whenever there is any change in
movement, it is bound to have an effect on the total functioning of the body as
§ The way a person
moves can be taken as indicative of his/her overall personality.
§ In dance therapy,
the therapeutic relationship is mediated, to a certain extent, non-verbally.
§ Movement contains a
symbolic function and can be taken to mean the evidence of unconscious process.
§ Improvisation in the
movements of a person allows him/her to experiment with new ways of being.
§ Dance therapy
concentrates on body, mind, and spirit as a whole, uniting it with the aim of
providing a sense of wholeness to a person
therapy is creative process that can be divided into four stages, with each of
them having a smaller set of goals. These goals associate with the larger
purpose of the therapy and might change from one person to the other. The
stages in dance therapy are progressive in nature. However, through the course
of the whole therapy, they may be revisited several times. Four stages.
Preparation: It is also known as the warm-up stage, in
which safety is established
Incubation: This is the relaxed stage, in which a
person lets go of his conscious control and his movements become symbolic
Illumination: in this stage, the meanings become
evident, which can have positive as well as negative effects
Evaluation: In the last stage, the significance of the
whole process is discussed with the person undergoing it, after which the
therapy comes to an end
therapy is used to treat a number of diseases and disorders, some of which are
quite serious as well. Though its basic aim is to reduce stress and center the
body, this therapy is very effective in healing many disabilities and diseases
as well. For instance, it can prove beneficial for people suffering from
autism, learning disabilities, mental retardation, deafness and hearing
impairment, blindness and visual impairment, physical handicaps, eating
disorders, PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and Parkinson’s disease. It
can also be used for holistic birth preparation, by helping the mother cope up
with labor, birth and early parenting.
PHASES IN MOVEMENT
THERAPY GETTING STARTED
Beginning of the
Warm-up. Each session starts with a warm-up. The
warm-up was emphasized as an important time for the therapist to assess the
movement qualities that she would be working within the session. The warm-up is
usually the most structured component of the session.
Movement lexicon development. The movement
patterns identified during the warm-up can develop the movement lexicon that
will be used throughout the rest of the session.
Movement guidance. A DMT session is
not like a dance class, in which students are taught a routine and then perform
the routine for the teacher and class. Instead, DMT relies on the creative
impulse of the client and is about expression, not just movement. That being said,
the therapist does have a role in guiding movement when necessary. Guiding the
client’s movement relies on astute assessment of clients and being present with
the client. This assessment often involves movement on a very small level.
Building rapport. Just as expressing
oneself verbally demands a relationship built on trust, it is imperative to
establish rapport and trust in the DMT setting. When trauma is the presenting
problem, the need for rapport is exacerbated.
Just as in verbal
therapy, one of the most important elements in establishing rapport is meeting
the client where the client needs to be met.
Resistance can often be an issue in therapy. Although questions
about issues of resistance were asked to all of the respondents, no one
identified it as a major problem once rapport was established. However, the
responses generally suggested that women are less resistant to DMT than men
are, even in the earlier stages before rapport has been established. Resistance
can be represented in the form of fear of movement, especially in the early
stages of the therapeutic process.
The therapist can
use the self to help guide the client into experiencing movement in a setting
that feels safe. One tactic used by the therapist to overcome fear of movement
and resistance is the creation of a holding space.
Metaphor. All of the therapists spoke about tools
that they use in practice to help clients ease into the movement process. When
guiding the client in the movement process, the therapist will frequently use
metaphor as a tool for developing and understanding a movement.
.Metaphor can be
used to explore the mind. Opposing themes like open and closed, hard and soft,
and high and low can be integrated to assist the client in exploring the
expression of feelings. Music can also be used to explore these dichotomies. Additionally,
the rhythm in the music can add a structure to the session, when useful.
Music and props. Although music can
be a useful tool in the session, the participants were careful to note that the
therapist needs to be careful in picking the music. Lyrics can influence the
client’s movement process. Additionally, many therapists incorporate the use of
props into their practice. Props can help to ground the client or ease them
into the movement process. Specifically, in working with women and trauma,
there are props that can be powerful in establishing boundaries and experiences
Body awareness. The body holds the
trauma; therefore, it is important to involve the body in accessing those
stored memories. Many of the respondents discussed the need to turn to the body
for the expression.
Mirroring. Mirroring is a very important tool in
movement therapy and appears throughout the movement session. In an individual
session, the application of mirroring involves the therapist mirroring the
client’s movement with her own movement, or vice versa. One of the roles of the
therapist in the use of mirroring is to pinpoint and exaggerate the subtle
movement of the client. The therapist observes the movement that the client is
performing and amplifies it in her own movement to help the client gain
Empowerment. An important subtheme from the middle of a
session is empowerment and decreasing self-identification as a victim.
Many of the
participating therapists explained that feeling empowered is often a result of increasing
mastery and decreasing shame or guilt. DMT can be effective in establishing a
sense of empowerment because there is a notion of reclaiming and honoring the
body involved in the treatment. Often, in the case of trauma, the victim does
not feel ownership of the body. DMT is a modality that allows for the building
or rebuilding of that ownership and honoring the body. Such ownership may be
achieved through gained muscle strength or establishing boundaries. DMT can
help individuals to be aware of their position in space: to recognize where
their bodies end and where others begin.
Trust. Developing a fluid sense of personal
boundaries can be very challenging for victims of trauma. However, through the
use of DMT, a positive sense of self is established, which can ultimately
enable the individual to invite other people into their space.
client is learning to trust his or her own body again through the use of movement.
The therapist helps to show the client that the things happening in the body
are supposed to happen in response to trauma.
Self-care. In the case of trauma, the body has often
been violated. DMT uses tools to help the individual to reconnect with the
body, to care for and nurture the body, and to trust the body again by being
able to use it for healthy forms of expression and communication. These skills can
be taken outside of the session and integrated into the lives of the clients,
ultimately helping them reduce stress, anxiety, depression, and, ultimately,
End Phase of the
Processing. In summary, the middle of the session develops
based on what happens in the warm-up, and the session closes with a cool down
and verbal processing of the session. The end phase is a time when change is
Integration of other modalities. DMT is not intended
to be used alone and without the integration of other treatment modalities; it
is a modality that works well when integrated with other methods, such as
verbal therapy or other expressive art therapies.