Dance therapy can bedefined as the healing system that makes use of movement and dance, onpsychotherapeutic level, to treat emotional, cognitive, social, behavioral andphysical 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 therapyworks on the premise that movements and emotions are directly related to eachother and by affecting the former, we have can have a positive effect on thelatter as well.
Apart from dance therapy, it is also known by the name of dancemovement therapy and movement psychotherapy.PrinciplesThe basic premisebehind the dance therapy is that “the body and mind are inseparable”, infact they always go hand in hand. Apart from this, there are certain otherprinciples around which the overall therapy revolves. These are: § The body and mindare in constant interaction with one other.
So, whenever there is any change inmovement, it is bound to have an effect on the total functioning of the body aswell.§ The way a personmoves 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 asymbolic function and can be taken to mean the evidence of unconscious process.§ Improvisation in themovements of a person allows him/her to experiment with new ways of being.§ Dance therapyconcentrates on body, mind, and spirit as a whole, uniting it with the aim ofproviding a sense of wholeness to a personStagesDance movementtherapy is creative process that can be divided into four stages, with each ofthem having a smaller set of goals. These goals associate with the largerpurpose of the therapy and might change from one person to the other. Thestages in dance therapy are progressive in nature.
However, through the courseof the whole therapy, they may be revisited several times. Four stages.Preparation: It is also known as the warm-up stage, inwhich safety is establishedIncubation: This is the relaxed stage, in which aperson lets go of his conscious control and his movements become symbolicIllumination: in this stage, the meanings becomeevident, which can have positive as well as negative effectsEvaluation: In the last stage, the significance of thewhole process is discussed with the person undergoing it, after which thetherapy comes to an end Specialized TreatmentsDance movementtherapy is used to treat a number of diseases and disorders, some of which arequite serious as well. Though its basic aim is to reduce stress and center thebody, this therapy is very effective in healing many disabilities and diseasesas well. For instance, it can prove beneficial for people suffering fromautism, learning disabilities, mental retardation, deafness and hearingimpairment, blindness and visual impairment, physical handicaps, eatingdisorders, PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and Parkinson’s disease. Itcan also be used for holistic birth preparation, by helping the mother cope upwith labor, birth and early parenting.
PHASES IN MOVEMENTTHERAPY GETTING STARTEDBeginning of theSessionWarm-up. Each session starts with a warm-up. Thewarm-up was emphasized as an important time for the therapist to assess themovement qualities that she would be working within the session. The warm-up isusually the most structured component of the session. Movement lexicon development. The movementpatterns identified during the warm-up can develop the movement lexicon thatwill be used throughout the rest of the session. Movement guidance. A DMT session isnot like a dance class, in which students are taught a routine and then performthe routine for the teacher and class.
Instead, DMT relies on the creativeimpulse of the client and is about expression, not just movement. That being said,the therapist does have a role in guiding movement when necessary. Guiding theclient’s movement relies on astute assessment of clients and being present withthe client. This assessment often involves movement on a very small level. Building rapport. Just as expressingoneself verbally demands a relationship built on trust, it is imperative toestablish rapport and trust in the DMT setting.
When trauma is the presentingproblem, the need for rapport is exacerbated. Just as in verbaltherapy, one of the most important elements in establishing rapport is meetingthe client where the client needs to be met. Resistance can often be an issue in therapy. Although questionsabout issues of resistance were asked to all of the respondents, no oneidentified it as a major problem once rapport was established. However, theresponses generally suggested that women are less resistant to DMT than menare, even in the earlier stages before rapport has been established.
Resistancecan be represented in the form of fear of movement, especially in the earlystages of the therapeutic process.The therapist canuse the self to help guide the client into experiencing movement in a settingthat feels safe. One tactic used by the therapist to overcome fear of movementand resistance is the creation of a holding space.MiddleMetaphor. All of the therapists spoke about toolsthat they use in practice to help clients ease into the movement process.
Whenguiding the client in the movement process, the therapist will frequently usemetaphor as a tool for developing and understanding a movement..Metaphor can beused to explore the mind. Opposing themes like open and closed, hard and soft,and high and low can be integrated to assist the client in exploring theexpression of feelings. Music can also be used to explore these dichotomies. Additionally,the rhythm in the music can add a structure to the session, when useful.
Music and props. Although music canbe a useful tool in the session, the participants were careful to note that thetherapist needs to be careful in picking the music. Lyrics can influence theclient’s movement process. Additionally, many therapists incorporate the use ofprops into their practice. Props can help to ground the client or ease theminto the movement process. Specifically, in working with women and trauma,there are props that can be powerful in establishing boundaries and experiencesof support.Body awareness.
The body holds thetrauma; therefore, it is important to involve the body in accessing thosestored memories. Many of the respondents discussed the need to turn to the bodyfor the expression.Mirroring. Mirroring is a very important tool inmovement therapy and appears throughout the movement session. In an individualsession, the application of mirroring involves the therapist mirroring theclient’s movement with her own movement, or vice versa. One of the roles of thetherapist in the use of mirroring is to pinpoint and exaggerate the subtlemovement of the client. The therapist observes the movement that the client isperforming and amplifies it in her own movement to help the client gainawareness. Empowerment.
An important subtheme from the middle of asession is empowerment and decreasing self-identification as a victim. Many of theparticipating therapists explained that feeling empowered is often a result of increasingmastery and decreasing shame or guilt. DMT can be effective in establishing asense of empowerment because there is a notion of reclaiming and honoring thebody involved in the treatment. Often, in the case of trauma, the victim doesnot feel ownership of the body. DMT is a modality that allows for the buildingor rebuilding of that ownership and honoring the body.
Such ownership may beachieved through gained muscle strength or establishing boundaries. DMT canhelp individuals to be aware of their position in space: to recognize wheretheir bodies end and where others begin.Trust. Developing a fluid sense of personalboundaries can be very challenging for victims of trauma. However, through theuse of DMT, a positive sense of self is established, which can ultimatelyenable the individual to invite other people into their space.
Ultimately, theclient is learning to trust his or her own body again through the use of movement.The therapist helps to show the client that the things happening in the bodyare supposed to happen in response to trauma.Self-care. In the case of trauma, the body has oftenbeen violated. DMT uses tools to help the individual to reconnect with thebody, to care for and nurture the body, and to trust the body again by beingable to use it for healthy forms of expression and communication.
These skills canbe taken outside of the session and integrated into the lives of the clients,ultimately helping them reduce stress, anxiety, depression, and, ultimately,PTSD.End Phase of theSessionProcessing. In summary, the middle of the session developsbased on what happens in the warm-up, and the session closes with a cool downand verbal processing of the session.
The end phase is a time when change isnoted. Integration of other modalities. DMT is not intendedto be used alone and without the integration of other treatment modalities; itis a modality that works well when integrated with other methods, such asverbal therapy or other expressive art therapies.