“Dance/Movement Therapy is the psychotherapeutic use of movement to promote emotional, cognitive, physical and social integration of the individual.”
– American Dance Therapy Association (ADTA), n.d.
Benefits of Dance/Movement Therapy (DMT)
- Complements and supports a multi-disciplinary team approach
- May increase cognition
- Promotes the feeling of control over one’s own body
- Engages sensory systems, yielding increased well-being and focus
- Increases socialization
- Provides a safe space for expression of thoughts and feelings
- Promotes nostalgia
- Cultivates a support system
- Promotes overall relaxation
- Encourages physical exertion
Dance/movement therapy reintegrates previous tactile, visual, auditory, and kinesthetic experiences (Matherly, 2014).
Dance/movement therapy improves quality of life for older adults with cognitive impairment by engaging the sensory systems and simultaneously stimulating physical, emotional, and cognitive functioning (Bräuninger, 2012, 2014; Karkou & Meekums, 2017).
Themes that often emerge and are then explored within the DMT session
- Anxiety & fears
- Relationships & support systems
- DMT sessions are facilitated with persons of all ages, races, and ethnic backgrounds.
- Each member is encouraged to participate at his or her own pace/comfort level.
- Appropriate music of the group’s choice may be played in the background to provide structure, rhythmic synchrony, and a sense of comfort.
- Memories and feeling states that are stored in the body and mind are accessed through movement and validated by the members.
- DMT is most effective with groups of 12-15 persons. Smaller or larger groups are beneficial as well, provided that most members do not require 1:1 attention and/or are not markedly cognitively impaired.
- DMT sessions can be facilitated in many different types of settings (recreation rooms of healthcare establishments, wellness centers, hospital rooms, psychiatric units, schools and classrooms, community centers, etc.).
- Members are situated in a circle formation prior to the start of the DMT session
- The entire DMT session is often seat-based for older adults and/or individuals with physical limitations.