What Is Dance Therapy?
Use of dance movements to promote emotional, physical and social integration is called dance therapy. It is also popularly known as dance/movement therapy (DMT) which is the psychotherapeutic use of movement to find places inside you that you might not know and to give voice to those emotions. This therapy emerged as a field in the 1940s as early innovators. Many accomplished dancers felt that using dance and movement is a holistic approach to healing based on the theory that mind, body, and spirit are inseparable and interconnected. Hence a change in the body has a direct effect on the mind and vice versa. In short a physical and mental journey to unearth repressed emotions.
What To Expect During Dance Therapy Programs?
Every session can look very different depending on the client and setting. Approach of each therapist towards their client may vary based on the needs and abilities of the client. Movement is the primary way dance therapists might help you to develop a better awareness of your body. Therapists observe movements, body language and might ask you to make a gesture, change it in some way to address your specific needs. After observing, evaluating a dance therapist might create a sequence of movements or dance that is symbolic of your inner experience.
Benefits Of Dance Therapy
Studies have shown that dance therapy helps people with dementia, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, cardiovascular conditions, people with learning difficulties and many more. However here, we will touch upon various benefits of dance therapy from the physical and mental aspect.
Helps Express Emotions
Many find it difficult to express emotions verbally, but dance therapy is a great way to deal with this. Some songs can make a person feel happy, another sad, and another energized. Dancing to different music and sounds can affect people so differently. Studies have shown that someone who may not have shown any expression earlier has been able to express themselves through dance therapy.
Improves Physical Fitness
One of the greatest benefits of dance therapy is promoting fitness in a fun and musical driven atmosphere. Every session starts with a warm-up of some sort to get everyone comfortable and moving. Dance therapy includes stretching, deep breathing and even use of props. If the clients have limited mobility, then they are asked to move that part of their body they are most comfortable moving. By doing so everyone is active and develops gross motor skills.
Treatment For Trauma
Dance therapy is an effective treatment for trauma that might be too painful to address otherwise. This will help clients to explore, and express emotions and this in turn releases trauma that’s imprinted in the mind. Dance therapy is used to bring positive sensations and feelings in clients, who have suffered severe abuses, which include torture, human trafficking, and sexual abuse.
Like any other form of exercise, dance therapy is great for relieving stress in the mind and body. Dancing causes your body to release endorphins that act as natural painkillers. Dance therapy movement has mood-enhancing benefits and also improves the ability to sleep, which in turn reduces stress. Movement dance therapy can bring changes to attitudes and relieves stress almost instantly.
Effective For Eating Disorders
Studies have shown that people with eating disorders found dance therapy to be most effective when combined with traditional eating disorder treatments, such as talk therapy. People with eating disorders describe their relationship with their body as that of one with a stranger, however dance therapy can help someone struggling with an eating disorder reclaim their connection with the experience of living in their body.
Increases Confidence And Self-Esteem
Dance allows people to be more active, socialize and improve physical skills. This in turn increases confidence, social and communication skills as well as improves self-esteem and over all attentiveness in individuals. Dance therapy has been shown to create a sense of accomplishment and promotes a great work ethic. The confidence gained through these achievements can build self-confidence and self-esteem.
Helps Beat Depression
Dancing, as an exercise promotes physical wellness and mental wellness. Anyone who dances looks happy and at ease as it releases an increased supply of oxygen to the brain and stress-reducing neurochemicals which keep you afloat. People who regularly practiced dance therapy reported lower levels of depression and anxiety.
Dance Therapy Techniques To Help Connect With Oneself
There are different techniques to help a person connect to their body. Let’s take a look at a few common methods.
Mirroring: Here one person performs a spontaneous movement while other people imitate the same. It can be done either with a group or with only the instructor. A therapist may mirror your movements, or have participants mirror for each other. This technique is very simple as this involves copying another person’s movements. By doing so one feels more connected to others and can build feelings of empathy.
Authentic Movement: This technique requires the client to keep their eyes closed to keep away from distractions that will help connect the mind with the body better. Here the clients explore their subconscious emotions and thoughts by acting them out through dancing.
Chacian: Here the focus is more on rhythmic body movement and symbolism to promote communication and expression. The therapist gives verbal and nonverbal cues to understand the group’s emotional state. The group then engages in repetitive and simple body movements which connect to their feelings.
This therapy is not just for people who need help, it is for everyone! From Bollywood dancing to classical, salsa to hip hop and from Zumba to aerobic dancing, the options are many. You can either enroll yourself in a local dance studio or hire a dance therapist to help you get started. Now that you know it all, dance your way through to a healthy life!