Dance movement therapy (or DMT) is the use of movement and dancing to help support motor functions and emotions as well as mental activity. It’s also called movement psychotherapy and it involves no set rules or movement styles. The human face and voice may be able to hide emotion extremely well, but the human body cannot. Emotions and thoughts are displayed like a canvas to the world, and those that can read the language know exactly when others are upset, frightened, happy, sad, in love, and more.
DMT helps patients and clients achieve a balance throughout all of their sensory receptors and reduces stress while improving mood management. DMT has been shown to improve self-esteem and body image issues. Movements can be used to express powerful emotions and thoughts that individuals can’t put into words.
Dance therapy isn’t just dancing around the room to random music to let out emotion. Emotions are released, but so are both conscious and unconscious thoughts. DMT therapists are trained to read the language of body movement and evaluate how patients are doing or feeling. There are several techniques used during DMT therapy that are not employed in traditional dance classes, such as mirroring movements to match the person and show empathy and validation.
Individuals have trouble trusting not only themselves but others during the recovery process. Dance therapy allows professionals to learn and develop trust and rapport, and patients can use their sessions to read the body language of friends and family members. Dance is a universal language that, once learned, can be applied to all areas of life.
The body holds in stress and negative emotions, so movement can stretch those muscles and release built-up tension and stress within the body. Neck pain, shoulder pain, back pain, stomach pain, and headaches can all be caused by an increased amount of stress. It can also lead to trouble sleeping or too much sleep, causing further imbalances. DMT gives individuals a chance to process their internal emotional turmoil and conflicts and release them in a tangible way.
Movements that are often repeated can be used to identify recurring themes or thoughts, maybe even parts of the person’s personality that are being reflected in their dance moves. When combined with other traditional therapy methods, dance therapy can lead to breakthroughs in how a person sees themselves and situations around them. A simple shift in perspective can have a profound effect, and dancing helps shift perspective from associating events with negativity to associating them with movements.
DMT lacks chorography and doesn’t focus on skill level, it is all about expression and dissecting the movements of the body and what role they play or story they tell. It can be very active or barely active, individuals can finish a session dripping with sweat or not, but either way progress is made employing techniques that facilitate the discovery of what topics and issues are bothering the individual and how deeply they really affect them, since they are likely to downplay their emotions – the main reason behind DMT and other forms of art therapy.