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What is useful dance and movement therapy?

Combining the pleasant and the useful is quite possible, and the extra proof of this is the dance-movement therapy, which will help to know, reveal yourself and solve many psychological problems. Learn more about this interesting direction and appreciate its advantages and disadvantages.

What is it?

What is dance and movement therapy? This is one of the areas of psychotherapy, combining movement and dance and used as a process of physical, psychological and emotional integration of the personality. In other words, through physical activity and dance, a person knows himself, and all aspects of his existence: body, sensations, thoughts, emotions, world perception.

The history of the development direction

It is not known exactly when dance-movement therapy started

The dance was present in the life of primitive tribes and performed several functions at once.

  • First, he personified a kind of symbolic language and provided a connection with something sacred and sacred.
  • Secondly, rhythmic movements were a way of transmitting information through gestures and communications between individuals.
  • Thirdly, the dances were used as a method of identification - the designation of belonging to a particular nation, tribe or nation (this function is partially preserved to this day).
  • Fourthly, with the help of movements the dancer could spit out emotions, show his perception of the world, express thoughts.
  • And, finally, from the most ancient times, dance was used as an accessible way for all to relax and relieve tension. And in some practices, it was perceived as a way to a special state, for example, to nirvana.

The American dancer and teacher Marion Chase, who noticed that her students were changing, began to move to the direction of psychotherapy, and such changes affect not so much the dance technique, as the expression of feelings through movement.Chase decided to give freedom to the dancers and, thus, discovered a positive psychological influence.

At first she practiced in dance schools and worked with children, but later psychotherapists and psychologists became interested in her experience. The formation of dance-motor therapy as an independent direction was influenced by the views of Carl Jung, as well as psychoanalytic theory developed by Harry Sullivan and Wilhelm Reich.

Objectives and principles

Dance movement therapy is based on five basic principles:

  1. The indivisibility of the mind and body, their close relationship, constant interaction and influence on each other.
  2. Dance as a communicative process consisting of three levels: with other people, with the outside world and with oneself.
  3. Thoughts, feelings and behavior are closely interrelated and exist as a whole complex, so changes in one aspect affect the rest.
  4. The body is a continuous process, not an object, subject or object.
  5. Human creative abilities are presented as an inexhaustible and replenishable source of energy and vitality.

The direction pursues such goals as the development of self-confidence,increase of self-esteem, expansion of the sphere of consciousness, search for new opportunities, knowledge of the body and all its parts, improvement of social and psychological skills, gaining experience, and establishing a close and inseparable connection between movements, emotions, feelings and thoughts.

Types of therapy

There are several types of dance movement therapy:

  • Clinical is used in medical practice in combination with other methods of therapy, is conducted by courses and can last for years.
  • Dance psychotherapy is aimed at eliminating psychological barriers and problems and involves focusing on specific requests from patients.
  • Personal dance-movement therapy. Its main goals are the knowledge of oneself, the development of the personality, the assimilation of something unexplored, the reception of new vivid emotions.

In what cases dance and movement therapy will be useful?

Dance-motor therapy is used in a variety of cases, and its main indications are as follows:

  • rehabilitation after severe illness or debilitating and complex treatment (such therapy is used in cancer therapy);
  • emotional overstrain, frequent and severe stress, nervous exhaustion;
  • experienced severe psychological trauma;
  • low self-esteem, lack of self-confidence and self-reliance, shyness and stiffness;
  • living in adverse conditions or dysfunctional families;
  • confusion in thoughts, inability to understand oneself and understand one’s life purpose;
  • serious post-traumatic complications;
  • difficult pregnancy;
  • eating disorders, such as anorexia and bulimia.

In what cases is therapy contraindicated?

At first glance it may seem that almost everyone can dance, but dance-movement therapy as a psychotherapeutic area has contraindications, which include suicidal thoughts, persistent and severe mental disorders, senile dementia, gross behavioral disorders and diseases that limit any physical activity.

Practices and exercises

There are many techniques and exercises, but there are several primary dance rhythms: smooth and soft, crisp and sharp, chaotic and spontaneous, graceful and refined, and motionless, aimed at tracking body pulsations.And in some techniques, three main components are included: awareness of the body, its individual parts and processes; increase the flexibility and expressiveness of the dance and authentic movements involving improvisation and spontaneity.

Advantages and disadvantages

Finally, it is worth mentioning the advantages and disadvantages of dance-motor therapy. First, consider the advantages:

  • Dance - it's nice. The rhythmic movements performed to the music help to relax, escape from bad thoughts, have fun and take a step towards self-expression.
  • This direction is very useful for children, as the dance improves coordination of movements, increases flexibility, gives self-confidence and ensures harmonious psychological and physical development.
  • Dance movements - this is physical activity, and it helps strengthen health, and acts on many important systems of the body: cardiovascular, respiratory and even digestive.
  • Active exercises, which include directions, are useful for adults, adolescents and children who are overweight. Dance will help to normalize body weight, maintain shape and make the body more prominent, because in the process of training, almost all muscle groups work.
  • Such a direction does not require the development of special skills and knowledge, and efforts are minimal.


  • There are contraindications, although few.
  • Therapy is not effective in all cases. So, with serious mental disorders, it may not help.

Try dance-movement therapy on yourself and appreciate its benefits and effects.

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