A woman wearing a long skirt, with long blonde hair, is dancing and spinning, while silhouetted against the evening sky

Dance Movement Therapy is a specialty of conventional psychotherapy. Unfortunately, it’s not yet as widely discussed out of alternative healing and psychotherapy circles as it needs to be. Most of the books and websites on the topic are geared towards the area’s professionals or for those studying for their credentials.

What’s Dance Movement Therapy?

As a Dance Movement Therapist, I know there is so little info on the topic. So here are a couple of elements that helped to create Dance Movement Therapy a bit less mysterious.

Dance is a really primitive mode of communication that’s deeply connected to the human mind. Although it’s now often relegated to more of a performance and spectator event in western society, it’s present in every historical period of time of each culture around the world. We all should know the importance of using the element of dancing.

So Dance Movement Therapy isn’t about being a dancer or having the ability to “do it right.” Both the desire and the ability to dance are an intrinsic part of the human experience. It’s not possible to “do it wrong.”

Dance Movement Therapy Session

There are various sorts of sessions that are developed for certain circumstances and levels of operation within the person or group. Authentic Movement is one such strategy. The mind and body are “danced” from the unconscious. This procedure enables one to move the self or the censor from the way. The client enters a kind of waking dream state, where the process of active imagination, a Jungian idea, becomes engaged. In this condition, you follow the vision that appears, pays attention to the quality of the motion and works with the metaphors reflected in these variables.

For instance, I recently had a session where I felt like I had been at the edge of a cliff. Then the quality of the motion become a type of floating quality. This was a metaphor for being carried through or over whatever crossroads or precipice I was converging upon in my own life.

Authentic Movement

Authentic Movement usually happens in a dyad, where you have a mover (customer) and a witness (therapist or other band members when in a group setting.) The watching is as important as the movement itself. Some movements can be subjective to the mover, and feelings might be subjective to the witness. The reflecting back of what is experienced and what’s witnessed helps the consumer to have an entire picture and deeper comprehension of what transpired during motion. It’s much like the analyzing of a fantasy, and in addition, it enables the customer to feel seen. In a group session, training is provided on the way to witness. Authentic movement is ideal for highly functioning individuals.

Acceptable sort of sessions

The session must be structured. You should work with any of the 5 components of effort, shape, time space or weight. For instance now I had a session with a girl who spoke very extremely fast. It was even difficult to keep up with her. It came up in the conversation that she felt like she never had enough time. Further discussion revealed that in her childhood, her relationship with her dad was cut short. Consequently, she felt the need to always be racing if she ran out of time. In cases like this, I chose to work with the element of time. Se we began with music which was slow and deliberate, and took it from there.

There is always some degree of dialogue that occurs before the dance element session starts to determines the way you move. Session begins with a general conversation about what is happening in your life and some other issues or feelings that might be pressing are discussed. This determines what components and emotions we’re working with and the music is selected so. For instance, the element of time would entail either very fast or very slow, meditative music. For somebody processing anger, I might play drum audio or even have the customer beat on real drums.

What’s the difference between Dance Movement Therapy and other kinds of psychotherapy?

It helps the patient to have a psychological release on the physical level. For instance instead of just talking about anger, you get to punch, stomp or conquer to release that anger. This makes it ideal for people who might not have the verbal skills, (e.g. children and teens) to articulate their feelings and frustrations.

Dance therapy is ideal as an advanced recovery following step, useful for processing feelings and states that one becomes aware of after a 12 step program, yoga and bodywork, for instance. Additionally it is great for folks that are developmentally arrested. So it significantly simplifies any other kinds of healing work where you’re already engaged.

Sort of people who are attracted to it

It’s for everybody, but can be particularly appealing to creative, intuitive and sensate men and women. You will find it especially helpful when you feel disconnected and out of touch with your body, stuck or if you’re not accomplishing your goals through routine treatment. If you are the sort of person who prefers to take an active part in your recovery, rather than having work “done” on you (which can be beneficial in its own way), then Dance Movement Therapy would definitely appeal to you.