The healing benefits of movement are undeniable. Just think of how much better you feel taking a brisk walk after sitting in an office all day or how much clearer your head is after engaging in a dance class. Movement Therapy is based on the interconnection of body and mind and the assumption that moving one’s body has abundant mental and emotional benefits. As with all expressive arts modalities, movement therapy acts as an outlet to help facilitate self-expression, emotional regulation, and the movement of energy through the body. Negative emotions can literally get “stuck” and cause a number of physical issues if they are not processed. Engaging in movement, singing, writing, painting, and other expressive arts processes can help get these emotions “unstuck” and result in a healthier body and mind.
Some might find the idea of engaging in movement to be intimidating, but the good news is that one does not need to be a professional dancer to experience the benefits of movement therapy, as all that is required is moving the body in a way that feels good. Additionally, “movement” doesn’t necessarily mean dance. There are countless ways to move one’s body—jumping, bouncing, walking, skipping...the sky’s the limit! Again, the idea is to simply do what feels good to you. Additionally, the same endorphins that make you feel better when moving also help you concentrate and sleep better, have more energy, and can help you become more resilient when faced with the mental or emotional challenges of life.
While the simple act of moving one’s body is highly therapeutic, Dance Therapy is the formal use of “dance as therapy.” Defined, dance/movement therapy (DMT) in the United States is the psychotherapeutic use of movement and dance to support the intellectual, emotional, and motor functions of the body. As a modality of expressive arts therapy, DMT looks at the correlation between movement and emotion. Also called “movement psychotherapy,” there is no one primary type of movement style used within this therapeutic practice. DMT programs range from the use of traditional dances like ballroom to more subtle forms of movement like yoga and stretching to calm the body. Dance therapists help people work on issues through the use of a “movement vocabulary” that is centered around physical expression instead of words and hold Master’s degrees in Dance/Movement Therapy.
Check out this video for an introduction to movement therapy exercises: