Dance therapy or dance movement therapy (DMT)
The creative arts therapies, which includes art therapy, music therapy, drama therapy, and dance movement therapy have been developing quite rapidly as adjuncts to the more traditional psychotherapeutic procedures, besides serving as supportive and educational methods in their own right. Recognizing and inculcating the usefulness of these modalities especially with the chronically mentally ill and severely disturbed children and adolescents, legislation was formalized during the late 1970s in the Mental Health Systems Act that resulted in new federal job classifications in the creative arts therapies thereby vitalizing these fields of therapeutic activity. The American Journal of Dance Therapy provides the proper guideline regarding the practices and procedure about Dance and Movement Therapy. The procedure comprises complete flexible involvement of body movements and postures and therefore reducing symptoms of mental ailment, beside increasing the overall well being of the individual.
What to expect?
An individual’s movements—posture, gait, carriage, and muscular coordinations—reveal tensions and character traits (Birdwhistell, 1952, 1959). The way people dance—their body direction, coordination, and use of space, sometimes communicates many of their conflicts. Free dance improvisations frequently bring forth gestures and movements of special parts of the body. Sequences of expression, hesitations, and aggressive or submissive motions have meaning for the dancer.
How does it work?
The techniques employed are drawn from various sources, ranging from Yoga and Tai Chi Chuan to Jacobson’s “Progressive Relaxation.” The object is to induce relaxation beside promoting emotional catharsis, mental and physical alertness, and greater awareness and acceptance of the body (Winston, 1966). Awareness about muscle tension, of posture and body alignment and of freedom or inhibition in breathing and body movements helps to focus attention on the self, its defenses, and its conflicts. Exercises which aims to improve muscle tone and posture help reduce anxiety, release energy and enhance self-confidence. Focusing on selected groups of muscle may release an outpouring of memories and encourage the reexperiencing of affect related to past events. As the patient is instructed to move body parts that are held rigid, the patient slowly begins to work through the fantasies and fears that have sponsored the original immobilizations. Obviously there exist a relationship of the movement therapist, and the latter’s ingenuity and sophistication, will have a determining influence on results (Smallwood, 1974).
When is it used?
Thus, dance may be employed and exploited, not only to secure emotional release, giving an outlet for energy, but also as a way of bringing out attitudes and conflicts. Solo dance performance and improvisations ,ballroom dancing, and folk dancing help externalize feelings and act as a bridge to greater social participation (Rosen, E, 1957). As in music therapy, the greatest effect on the patient is the interpersonal involvement. In a dancing relationship the patient has an opportunity to work through some of his or her shyness and embarrassment toward greater assertiveness and self-expression. Movement therapists also include body-awareness techniques on an individual and group basis.
Role of therapist:
Dance and movement therapists work in clinics, day-care centers, psychiatric hospitals, correctional centers, and special schools all over the world on an individual and in group basis. In this way it serve as adjuncts to primary psychotherapists. Technical terms like movement empathy, interactional synchrony, and replication refer to how body movements have symbolic meanings and reveal information about inner emotions and mental process.