If you enjoy dancing, you already know the emotional and physical benefits associated with this kind of dynamic movement. You likely know how dancing can help you feel strong and confident. You also probably know that it can help reduce stress, promote mindfulness, and encourage a sense of spiritual connection.
Dance and dance/movement therapy provides these same incredible benefits. When dancing is used as a therapeutic tool, it can significantly improve your mental health and reduce unwanted symptoms. Here's what you need to know.
What Is Dance Therapy?
Dance therapy incorporates a combination of movement and other forms of nonverbal communication for emotional expression. Dance therapy sessions differ, but most include phases like observation, assessment, warm-ups, interventions, and warm-downs.
Some therapists engage in non-directive sessions (meaning that there is no formal agenda). Others have a more structured approach with specific guidelines. Finally, it's not uncommon for dance therapists to mix and match their approaches based on what their clients need.
Dance therapy can occur in individual or group sessions. While it's normal to feel nervous or even awkward at first, many people find that this therapy encourages a sense of playfulness, spontaneity, and freedom. They often look forward to the sessions and feel rejuvenated afterward.
Some key principles of dance therapy include:
strengthening the mind-body connection
building a therapeutic rapport through non-verbal activity
identifying symbolism and meaning in various movements
recognizing how movement expresses unconscious parts of the self
becoming more aware of other ways of living and feeling
Like other therapies, dance therapy is confidential. That means that your therapist respects your privacy and will not share what you do outside of the session. Ideally, having this sense of safety will help you feel safer in your treatment.
Research on dance therapy tends to be positive. Many studies have found that this therapy yields healthy outcomes and boosts emotional functioning. However, because it isn't as popular as other therapy interventions, more research is still needed.
The length of treatment will depend on the individual. Some clients experience tremendous relief after just a few sessions. Most people attend dance therapy about once a week for 50-120 minutes.
Remember that good therapy is always collaborative and informative. Therefore, you can always ask your therapist what they recommend when it comes to your treatment.
Why Is Dance Therapy Beneficial?
Dance therapy offers a unique approach to treating your mental health. Nonverbal communication can reduce some of the pressure of needing to "talk it all out."
Some people find it easy to share their emotions or ask for the help they need. But most people- especially those with serious mental health problems or addictions- tend to be more guarded, aloof, or skeptical of such vulnerability. If treatment hasn't been beneficial, they might be even warier.
If you've been hurt in the past, it can be hard to feel safe with someone. For that reason, traditional talk therapy may be challenging. Even if you want the support, your defense mechanisms often make it difficult to truly open yourself to the process.
Experiential therapies allow you to express your feelings and needs without discussing them directly. A trained therapist will observe how you move, and they will attune to how your body reacts to various interventions. Using this information, they can work with you to create a sustainable path towards healing.
Experiential therapies also tend to be enjoyable! They are novel, refreshing, and (sometimes) silly. Most importantly, you're allowed to fully be yourself. And when you enjoy something, you're more likely to stick with it. So, if other therapies aren't getting you the results you want- or you simply want to try something new- dance may be a great option.
What Does Dance Therapy Treat?
Therapy can help with a variety of emotional and physical issues. Dance therapists often work with clients struggling with:
chronic pain or autoimmune disorders
poor body image
Dance therapy can be a standalone treatment. However, most clients benefit from dance interventions when they coincide with other mental health treatments. For example, you may engage in this therapy along with traditional talk therapy, psychiatric medication, or support groups.
Ideally, dance therapy should help you feel more confident and empowered. You'll also feel more attuned to your body and internal needs, all of which can improve your mental health.
Dance therapy can help you harness your authentic self and embrace a more dynamic, meaningful way of living. It's a fun, expressive approach to understanding your mental health.
At The Resurface Group, we are passionate about offering various experiential therapies for our clients. We understand that treatment should be effective and fulfilling. Subsequently, we work with our clients to find the best solutions for them.
We are here for you and your loved ones! Contact us today to learn more.