What is dance therapy?
Dance/Movement Therapy (DMT) or Dance Movement Psychotherapy (DMP) refers to the therapeutic use of movement and dance. This has been shown to improve not only motor or physical functions of the body but emotional and intellectual functions as well.
DMT looks at the well-being of the body and mind. Here are some of the specific benefits of Dance Therapy:
Dance Therapy Promotes Increased Physical Fitness
Dance in itself is a great way of staying fit. It promotes muscle strength and flexibility, endurance, and improved balance. Dance therapy has been found to be therapeutic for those with muscular and motor-system disorders such as Parkinson’s disease. Furthermore, it can serve as physical therapy for those recovering from injuries. Dance therapy is an effective way to improve overall wellness.
Likewise, studies have shown that DMT helps lessen the risk of older adults falling, as it improves their sense of balance. They were also shown to have better overall health. In fact, dance therapy offers a wide selection of movements and steps, allowing basically anyone to find the type of exercise that they need.
Dance Therapy Reduces Depression
Exercise and dance typically release endorphins and dopamine into the person’s system. As most are familiar, these substances are typically associated with feelings of happiness. While dance therapy isn’t a single solution to depression, it’s one method that can greatly supplement with seeing your psychiatrist.
In addition to a physical/chemical benefit, dance therapy provides social benefits as well. By going out of the house and being exposed to other people during dance therapy, DMT helps lessen symptoms of depression. It gives the person occupied and distracted from thoughts of sadness and hopelessness.
Dance Therapy Promotes Cognitive Health
Studies have shown that dance therapy exercises improve cognitive and neurological functions. Music is said to stimulate the reward center of the brain while movement activates sensory circuits.
Moreover, dance therapy has also shown positive effects and benefits to the elderly. Specifically, it has positive effects on patients suffering from dementia. Dance therapy provides them something to focus on, keeping their attention. In turn, this helps improve their memory.
Dance Therapy Relieves Stress
“There are so many ways stress creeps into our lives, yet if we take control of our time and make proactive and healthy decisions, we can stop these negative cycles and truly take care of our mental health,” says Sonja Seglin, LCPC. While it may seem daunting to others, exercise can actually be a form of stress reliever. When you find the type of exercise you want to do in dance therapy, it can actually be fun.
Dance is a common form of enjoyable exercise. Hence, DMT provides participants with an avenue to forget their problems and issues and focus more on the dance as an art. The opportunity of socializing with others also provides a way to de-stress. Through dance therapy, people have the opportunity to establish relationships.
Dance Therapy Allows Expression
Everyone has an outlet for their creativity and emotions. Some people make music, others write, and express their feelings through their work. Dance is another way in which people can showcase their creativity and feelings that is why danced therapy is beneficial. It’s another avenue to create something of your own. Molly Bowman, MS, LPC once said, “With attention, curiosity, and permission to be expressed, those emotions start to become unstuck and move through”
Dance therapy participants may create routines or movements out of memories and specific emotions. Think of it as if you were to write in a journal. Although, this way, instead of using words on paper, the words are steps and movements. The space around them serves as the paper and canvas on which people write and paint their thoughts onto.
There are a lot of physical and mental benefits that we can gain from dance therapy.
“The foundation of therapy is based on the relationship you build with your therapist. When seeking someone out it’s important you feel comfortable with them,” says Elana Schechtman-Gil LMFT.