What Is Dance Movement Therapy?

Dance movement therapy, also known as DMT, is carried out by a professional therapist to help with anxiety and depression. It allows people to feel better within themselves and helps to release negativity. Any age group can participate in it, and the benefits are emotional, mental and physical.

When you move your body in dance, it releases feel-good hormones known as endorphins. By partaking in DMT, you are investing in yourself, and the exertion felt is your payment to feel good afterwards. But it’s not only about exercise, far from it, the dance is also guided and designed to help release emotions stored within the body.

As I said before, it is for everyone, but it can also be used as family therapy and group sessions where you are in a safe environment and show your emotions freely.

What Can Dance Movement Therapy Help With?

There are many conditions it can help you with, and I have listed them below. I will say I was amazed to discover the variation covered.

  • Anxiety and Depression
  • Eating Disorders
  • Those lacking in confidence
  • PTSD
  • Social issues such as those who are aggressive or antisocial
  • Cancer Patients
  • Arthritis (this is one of the conditions I have in my toes, so I am seriously considering this alongside my mental health)
  • Hypertension
  • Chronic Pain
  • Cardiovascular Disease
  • Obesity in Children

There are possibly many more conditions it could help with, but these are the main ones. Your therapist may specialise in one area or cover all the areas within a group setting.

Why Is It Different From Other Forms of Dancing?

dance movement therapy a room of people dancing

The dance sessions focus on creativity and the flexibility needed in our cognition. It is sometimes called movement psychotherapy because it works by attuning to your inner being. The dancing can range from ballroom to yoga movements.

The trained practitioner will guide the whole session, so you don’t need to worry if you are unsure what to do or expect. You won’t be left in the corner waiting for a partner. The therapist will consider any movement problems you have and if you are feeling shy about being emotional in a group setting. You have to remember that every person is there for the same or different reasons, but ultimately they all want to be helped.

What you learn from dance movement therapy will last a lifetime and can help build coping skills and help you learn how to relax, especially important for anxiety and depression.

Instead of talking, you express yourself with movement, which will release emotion or build confidence; it could be both. It releases conscious and unconscious feelings, the therapist watches and learns about your non-verbal behaviours.

How Does It Work?

There hasn’t been too much study done in DMT, but the research that has been undertaken has shown that there is an excellent benefit for the participant.

Based on studies with moderate to high quality, we concluded that DMT is an effective intervention in the treatment of adults with depression.

Frontiers In

You don’t have to be able to dance to gain benefits from dance movement therapy, which is a good thing. It means nobody is ruled out from this, and you can express yourself in a safe setting.

There is an element of deep breathing through the diaphragm, much like you get with yoga and meditation. This helps to release inner emotions, and with the fluidity of movement, your non-verbal self will express itself. The therapist will pick up on these cues and guide you into a differing action or allow you to go through the healing process if this is what is happening.

You may also use tools to help release negative emotions, such as ribbons and string. The tools symbolise the negativity and then be discarded at the end of the session, representing freedom from those thoughts.

woman standing in a field with dance ribbons to help anxiety

Where Can You Access DMT?

You can search for your local class quite easily through a search browser, all you need to type in is dance movement therapy near me, and you will find many classes listed near you. It is growing in popularity, so there is more around than there was a few years ago. Seeing as doctors now recommend physical activity for mental health problems, more DMT places are coming to the fore.

In Summary

Dance movement therapy is a suitable therapy for almost everyone and of every age. It will help you to grow in self-esteem and confidence. You can also take what you learnt from the class back home with you and use it to help with coping mechanisms. You can also do this while undergoing other forms of therapy, as it is entirely different. I hope you will consider this as an option when you are thinking about starting a new therapy.


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Lou Farrell

Hi and welcome to Mentriz, where all manner of mental health issues are discussed, from anxiety to bipolar disorder. You can find what you are looking for by using the search function at the top of the screen. All articles are for information purposes and do not replace the advice of a doctor. I hope you find the website helpful and if you have a suggestion, please contact me.

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