Dance therapy works on the principle that there is a direct link between movement and emotions. With this article, explore the principles & stages of dance movement therapy.

What Is Dance Therapy

Dance therapy can be defined as the healing system that makes use of movement and dance, on psychotherapeutic level, to treat emotional, cognitive, social, behavioral and physical problems. It aims at the connection between the body and the mind, with the overall well-being of a person being the core objective. The therapy works on the premise that movements and emotions are directly related to each other and by affecting the former, we have can have a positive effect on the latter as well. Apart from dance therapy, it is also known by the name of dance movement therapy and movement psychotherapy.
The basic premise behind the dance therapy is that “the body and mind are inseparable", in fact they always go hand in hand. Apart from this, there are certain other principles around which the overall therapy revolves. These are: 
  • The body and mind are in constant interaction with one other. So, whenever there is any change in movement, it is bound to have an effect on the total functioning of the body as well.
  • The way a person moves can be taken as indicative of his/her overall personality.
  • In dance therapy, the therapeutic relationship is mediated, to a certain extent, non-verbally.
  • Movement contains a symbolic function and can be taken to mean the evidence of unconscious process.
  • Improvisation in the movements of a person allows him/her to experiment with new ways of being.
  • Dance therapy concentrates on body, mind, and spirit as a whole, uniting it with the aim of providing a sense of wholeness to a person.
Dance movement therapy is creative process that can be divided into four stages, with each of them having a smaller set of goals. These goals associate with the larger purpose of the therapy and might change from one person to the other. The stages in dance therapy are progressive in nature. However, through the course of the whole therapy, they may be revisited several times. Let us know more about these four stages.
  • Preparation: It is also known as the warm-up stage, in which safety is established
  • Incubation: This is the relaxed stage, in which a person lets go of his conscious control and his movements become symbolic
  • Illumination: in this stage, the meanings become evident, which can have positive as well as negative effects
  • Evaluation: In the last stage, the significance of the whole process is discussed with the person undergoing it, after which the therapy comes to an end 
Specialized Treatments
Dance movement therapy is used to treat a number of diseases and disorders, some of which are quite serious as well. Though its basic aim is to reduce stress and center the body, this therapy is very effective in healing many disabilities and diseases as well. For instance, it can prove beneficial for people suffering from autism, learning disabilities, mental retardation, deafness and hearing impairment, blindness and visual impairment, physical handicaps, eating disorders, PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) and Parkinson's disease. It can also be used for holistic birth preparation, by helping the mother cope up with labor, birth and early parenting.
Dance movement therapy is practiced in a wide variety of locations, which include: 
  • Rehabilitation centers
  • Medical settings
  • Educational settings
  • Forensic settings
  • Nursing homes
  • Day care facilities
  • disease prevention centers
  • Health promotion programs

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