Dance/Movement Therapy

Dance/Movement Therapy

Welcome to the world of Dance/Movement Therapy (DMT), where the language of movement and expression becomes a powerful tool for self-discovery and healing. Whether you are seeking a creative outlet, looking to process emotions, or simply curious about how movement can positively impact your well-being, DMT offers a safe and supportive space to explore the mind-body connection.

No prior dance experience is required, as DMT is all about your unique movement journey. Our trained therapists are here to guide you through this transformative experience, helping you unlock your inner wisdom, gain insights, and enhance your emotional and psychological well-being. Step into the dance of self-discovery and embark on a journey of healing and personal growth with DMT.

Find a therapist.

Dance/Movement Therapy

What is Dance/Movement Therapy?

Dance/Movement Therapy (DMT) is a form of psychotherapy that utilizes movement and dance as a means of expression, self-discovery, and healing. It is based on the understanding that the mind and body are interconnected, and that movement can be a powerful tool for processing emotions, improving mental health, and promoting overall well-being.

Dance/Movement Therapy sessions are facilitated by trained therapists who guide clients in exploring their thoughts, feelings, and experiences through various forms of movement, including dance, improvisation, and body awareness exercises.

History of Dance/Movement Therapy

Dance/Movement Therapy (DMT) has a rich history that spans several decades. Here’s a brief overview:

  • Early Roots: The use of dance and movement for therapeutic purposes has ancient roots in various cultures, from Native American healing dances to ancient Greek practices. However, the formalization of Dance/Movement Therapy as a psychotherapeutic approach began in the early 20th century.
  • Modern Origins: DMT as we know it today emerged in the mid-20th century. Dancers and artists like Marian Chace, Isadora Duncan, and Rudolf Laban played essential roles in pioneering the use of dance and movement for emotional expression and healing.
  • Marian Chace: Marian Chace, a dancer and movement enthusiast, is often considered the mother of Dance/Movement Therapy. In the 1940s, she began working with patients at St. Elizabeths Hospital in Washington, D.C., using dance and movement to improve their mental health. Her work laid the foundation for the development of DMT as a formalized therapeutic approach.
  • Formation of Professional Organizations: The American Dance Therapy Association (ADTA) was founded in 1966, establishing professional standards and promoting research and education in the field of DMT. Similar organizations formed in other parts of the world.
  • Growth and Recognition: Over the decades, Dance/Movement Therapy gained recognition as a valuable form of psychotherapy. It was integrated into clinical settings, including mental health facilities, schools, and rehabilitation centers, to address a wide range of emotional and psychological challenges.
  • Research and Validation: Dance/Movement Therapy continued to evolve with ongoing research and validation of its effectiveness. Studies have demonstrated its positive impact on individuals with conditions such as trauma, anxiety, depression, and eating disorders.
  • Global Reach: Dance/Movement Therapy has expanded beyond the United States and is now practiced worldwide. It has adapted to different cultural contexts and continues to grow as a respected therapeutic modality.

What Types of Things Do People Come to Dance/Movement Therapy For?

What Types of Things Do People Come to Dance/Movement Therapy For?

Dance/Movement Therapy (DMT) is used to address a wide range of emotional and psychological issues, including trauma, stress, anxiety, depression, body image concerns, and more. It can be practiced in individual, group, or family settings, and sessions are tailored to the specific needs and goals of each client.

DMT can be particularly effective in addressing certain concerns in ways that may be unique compared to traditional talk therapy. Here are some common issues for which individuals may turn to Dance/Movement Therapy and how this therapy can offer distinct benefits:

Trauma and PTSD

Dance/Movement Therapy provides a non-verbal avenue for processing traumatic experiences. It allows individuals to express and release pent-up emotions, reduce physiological symptoms of trauma, and regain a sense of control and safety through movement.

Depression and Anxiety

Movement in DMT can help alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety by promoting the release of endorphins, enhancing mood, and reducing muscle tension. The creative expression in movement can also foster a sense of empowerment and self-efficacy.

Body Image and Eating Disorders

Dance/Movement Therapy can facilitate a deeper connection to the body and a more positive relationship with it. It helps individuals explore body sensations, emotions related to body image, and develop a healthier self-image through movement.

Stress Reduction

Engaging in expressive movement can reduce stress levels by promoting relaxation, enhancing body awareness, and offering a healthy outlet for emotional tension. Dance/Movement Therapy encourages mindfulness and being present in the moment.

Self-Exploration and Self-Expression

Dance/Movement Therapy allows individuals to explore their inner worlds and express thoughts, feelings, and experiences in a non-verbal manner. This can be particularly helpful when verbal expression is challenging or limited.

What Types of Things Do People Come to Dance/Movement Therapy For?

Communication and Relationship Issues

Dance/Movement Therapy can improve communication skills, both with oneself and with others. It can help individuals become more attuned to non-verbal cues, improve body language, and foster empathy and connection.

Creativity and Personal Growth

Dance/Movement Therapy taps into one’s creative potential, allowing for personal growth and self-discovery. It encourages the exploration of new movement patterns, emotions, and ways of self-expression.

Childhood and Developmental Issues

Dance/Movement Therapy is beneficial for children and adolescents with developmental challenges, as it provides a playful and non-threatening way to enhance physical coordination, emotional regulation, and social interaction.

Grief and Loss

Movement can serve as a powerful medium for processing grief and loss. Dance/Movement Therapy enables individuals to express complex emotions, find closure, and ultimately integrate the experience into their lives.

Empowerment and Resilience

Dance/Movement Therapy fosters a sense of agency and empowerment. Clients can discover their strengths, build resilience, and develop coping strategies through movement.

Cultural and Identity Exploration

Dance/Movement Therapy can be a platform for exploring cultural identities and bridging cultural gaps. It honors diverse cultural expressions and perspectives.

Wellness and Holistic Health

Dance/Movement Therapy promotes overall well-being by addressing the mind-body connection. It encourages a holistic approach to health by nurturing physical, emotional, and spiritual aspects.

Dance/Movement Therapy: What to Expect

Dance/Movement Therapy: What to Expect

In Dance/Movement Therapy (DMT), clients can expect a therapeutic process that integrates movement and creative expression to address emotional, psychological, and physical concerns. Here’s what one can typically expect in a DMT session:

  • Initial Assessment: The therapist begins with an initial assessment to understand the client’s goals, needs, and any relevant history. This assessment may involve discussing current challenges, mental health history, and physical abilities.
  • Safe and Supportive Environment: DMT sessions take place in a safe and supportive environment, often a studio or therapy room. Clients are encouraged to feel comfortable and free from judgment.
  • Movement Exploration: Clients engage in movement exercises and activities tailored to their specific needs and goals. These may include structured movements, improvisation, dance, or guided relaxation.
  • Emotional Expression: Movement is used as a tool for emotional expression. Clients are encouraged to express their feelings and thoughts through their bodies. This can include gestures, postures, and dance sequences.
  • Body Awareness: DMT promotes increased body awareness. Clients learn to become more attuned to physical sensations, tensions, and emotions held within the body.
  • Verbal Processing: While DMT is primarily non-verbal, clients are encouraged to share their experiences and reflections during or after movement activities. Verbal processing helps connect the movement to emotions and insights.
  • Creative Exploration: Clients have the opportunity to engage in creative and imaginative movement. This can include using props, music, or guided imagery to enhance self-expression.
  • Empowerment and Choice: Clients are given choices in their movement and creative expression. This empowerment allows them to take ownership of their therapeutic journey.
  • Therapeutic Goals: DMT sessions are designed to address specific therapeutic goals. These goals may relate to emotional healing, self-discovery, symptom reduction, or personal growth.
  • Integration: Throughout the session, the therapist helps clients integrate their movement experiences with their overall emotional and psychological well-being.
  • Body-Mind Connection: DMT emphasizes the connection between the body and mind. Clients gain insights into how physical sensations and movements are linked to emotions and thoughts.
  • Closure and Reflection: Sessions typically end with a reflection on the experiences and insights gained. Therapists may encourage clients to journal or engage in further self-reflection.
  • Ongoing Exploration: DMT is often a dynamic and evolving process. Clients can expect an ongoing exploration of their movement and emotions throughout their therapeutic journey.

Dance/Movement Therapy: What to Expect

Dance/Movement Therapy Integrated With Other Therapy Types

Dance/Movement Therapy (DMT) is a specific and recognized modality within the field of psychotherapy just like CBT or psychodynamic therapy. It is distinct from other therapeutic approaches and is defined by its use of movement and dance as primary methods of exploration, expression, and healing.

DMT practitioners, often called dance/movement therapists, are trained professionals who specialize in using movement and creative expression to address emotional, psychological, and physical concerns in their clients. They adhere to specific principles and techniques that are unique to DMT, making it a well-established and distinct therapeutic modality.

Therefore, Dance/Movement Therapy (DMT) can be used both as a standalone therapeutic modality and in combination with other types of therapy, depending on the needs and preferences of the client. The choice to use DMT alone or in combination with other therapies is typically made in consultation between the client and their therapist, considering the client’s specific goals and the nature of their presenting issues.

Here’s how DMT can complement different therapeutic approaches:

Expressive Arts Therapy

DMT aligns seamlessly with expressive arts therapy, as it enhances the creative expression and exploration of emotions through movement. The combination allows clients to integrate dance and visual arts, music, or drama for a more holistic therapeutic experience.

Narrative Therapy

DMT can be integrated with narrative therapy to help clients explore and reframe their life stories and narratives through movement. Clients use their bodies to embody and externalize their narratives, facilitating a deeper understanding of their personal journeys.

Transpersonal Therapy

DMT can support transpersonal therapy by helping clients access altered states of consciousness or spiritual experiences through movement. It can serve as a means of transcending the ego and connecting with deeper aspects of the self.

Somatic Therapy

DMT is inherently somatic, focusing on the mind-body connection. When combined with somatic therapy, it enhances clients’ awareness of bodily sensations and supports the processing and resolution of trauma stored in the body.

Dance/Movement Therapy: What to Expect

Attachment Therapy

DMT can facilitate attachment therapy by providing a non-verbal platform for exploring attachment patterns and dynamics. It allows clients to express attachment-related emotions and experiences through movement.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Integrating DMT with CBT can enhance the cognitive restructuring process. Clients can use movement to challenge and reframe negative thought patterns and behavioral responses.

Mindfulness-Based Approaches

DMT can complement mindfulness-based therapies by promoting present-moment awareness through movement. Clients can practice mindfulness while engaging in expressive dance, enhancing their self-awareness and emotional regulation.

Gestalt Therapy

DMT aligns with the gestalt approach by allowing clients to embody and express unresolved feelings and conflicts. It can help clients gain insights into their present experiences and unfinished business through movement.

Family and Couples Therapy

In family or couples therapy, DMT can facilitate non-verbal communication, improve empathy, and help individuals express emotions that may be difficult to articulate verbally. It can promote connection and understanding within relationships.

Dance/Movement Therapy: What to Expect

Trauma-Informed Therapy

DMT is effective in trauma-informed therapy by providing a safe space for trauma survivors to process and release stored traumatic experiences through movement. It complements other trauma-focused approaches.

Holistic and Integrative Therapy

DMT naturally aligns with holistic and integrative approaches to therapy, as it addresses emotional, physical, and spiritual dimensions of well-being simultaneously.

Next Steps:

DMT is a flexible and adaptable therapy that can be tailored to each client’s unique needs and preferences. It offers a creative and embodied approach to healing and self-discovery, allowing individuals to explore and transform their emotional and psychological experiences through movement and expression.

Are you ready to find a therapist who utilizes Dance/Movement Therapy? Search our therapist directory today to find the one who is right for you. Or call us for more information.

Contact Our Team

Saw someone on our team that you think would be a good fit for you? Use the form here to send them your questions!
Use this dropdown to select the counselor or therapist that you wish to send a message to using this form.