What is Dance Movement Therapy?

According to the American Dance Therapy Association, dance/movement therapy is the therapeutic use of movement to “further the emotional, cognitive, and social integration of the individual.” Dance/movement therapy utilizes a holistic approach by working with the mind-body connection to help patients experience physical and emotional sensations in a safe way. Emotions, thoughts, and memories are reflected in the body through body language, gestures, and movements.

Dance Movement at Reasons

At Reasons Eating Disorder Center, dance/movement therapy is a modality used to support the treatment process. Through group and individual sessions, patients are supported through each stage of their recovery in order to help develop body awareness, increase expression, challenge thoughts about body image, and work on relational issues. Therapists guide exposure for patients to connect to their body which may bring up discomfort and anxiety around the idea of taking up space, sensations inDance Movement WEbsite
the body, or expressing oneself nonverbally. Attunement, empathy, and the therapeutic relationship are used to create a safe environment for exploration and increase the client’s self-regulation. By gaining awareness into the physical experience, the
patient and therapists can collaboratively develop gestures and movements that foster growth and healing. Sessions may include observing breath and sensations, exploring different qualities of movement, expressing emotions nonverbally, or relating with other group members by creating expressive choreography.

Specifically when someone is struggling with an eating disorder, they often have difficulty regulating their emotional arousal and organizing thoughts, actions, and interactions. This therapy helps expand their window of tolerance for body connection, builds somatic empathy, provides self soothing techniques, and encourages the patient to explore discrepancies between what they already know and what they are discovering through the process of dance and movement.

Our Dance Movement Therapists work on creating a safe space for all people. This is not a choreographed dance or calorie-burning exercise requiring experience or training. You do not need to have ever danced before to participate in this group in a meaningful way. Instead it is about unique expression of feelings through gesture and movement and paying careful attention to how these movements mirror the ways in which one moves through life and relationships.