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Alternative and Complementary Therapies



Dance Therapy


Dance therapy is also called as Movement therapy. It is the use of choreographed or improvised movement as a way of treating physical, emotional, social and cognitive problems. People of various cultures, throughout ages have used this dance therapy to express emotions, to tell stories, to treat illness, to maintain communal bonds, and to celebrate important events. It helps us to promote personal health, growth, and well being.

How Dance therapy works :

Dance therapy is based on the principle that the mind and the body are interrelated. Dance therapist found that the emotional and the mental problems are held in the body in the form of constrained movement patterns and muscle tension. It helps in promoting the healing process in many ways. People moving as a group brings them out of isolation, being with others brings us good feelings, also helps in creating powerful emotional and social bonds. It helps to ease the muscular rigidity by moving the body rhythmically, diminish anxiety, and also increases the energy. Moving creatively encourages self-expression and opens up new ways of thinking and doing.

Dance therapist addresses specific problems in specific ways. The dance therapist first identifies the person's problem by examining the body, then they will explore specific movement techniques to increase circulation, deepen breathing, and reduce muscle tension.

It works on three levels as physical, mental, and emotional level and they are as follows :

Physical level :
In physical level dance therapy benefits well-being, improved health, muscle tone, and coordination.
Emotional level :
In emotional level, it benefits to explore issues such as anger, frustration, and some loss that may be very difficult to explore verbally, also helps people to feel more confidet and joyful.
Mental level :
In mental level, dance therapy seeks to enhance memory, motivation, and cognitive skills.

Patient Expectation :

The result is depend on the person's ailment, whether the person is the only patient or part of a group, and whether the patient is working with the dance therapist in private practice or in the context of the treatment team. To get the benefit from this dance therapy, you need not have dance training.

The patient should wear a comfortable dress for the treatment. Then the therapist will talk to the patient about the needs and the reasons for wanting the treatment. Then the therapist may do some test by asking the patient to walk around the studio to analyse the body shape, posture, and the body movements.Then the dance therapist will discuss the treatment goals with the patient, duration and nature of the therapy.

In regular sessions, the dance therapist will watch the patient's dance, encourage them to express the feelings through movement, and, at times, imitate those movements (this is called "empathic mirroring") to establish rapport and make the patient feel accepted. The therapist may also try to help you connect your thoughts, feelings, and memories to your movements. If you are part of a dance therapy group, the dance therapist will typically assess how the group works together, how you all interact and share emotional expression through movement, and intervene or direct the action accordingly. The number of sessions, both for individual and group work, will vary. You might have to commit to at least six months of treatment, depending on your ailment.

Dance therapists work independently or as part of a treatment team, which might include an M.D., psychiatrist, psychologist, and/or other health-care provider. Whichever you prefer, your primary-care physician might be able to provide a referral.

Health Benefits

The health benefits of dance therapy is more. It is clinically effective in improving body image, self esteem, attentiveness, and communication skills. Also reduces stress, anxieties, fears, to lessen the feelings of isolation, body tension, chronic pain, depression and also to enhance the functioning of the body's circulatory and respiratory systems.

It has been shown that dance therapy also benefit adolescent and adult psychiatric patients, the learning disabled, the visually and hearing impaired, the mentally handicapped, and the elderly especially in nursing homes. Dance therapy has also been used successfully to help people deal with brain injury, AIDS, arthritis, amputation, stroke, cancer, and a number of other physical ailments.

Cautions :

Consult the primary care physician first, if you have a physical or some psychological ailment. Your physician can refer you to a dance therapist or supervise your care as part of a treatment team that includes a dance therapist.

It is important to find a dance therapist with whom you feel comfortable, since the dance therapy experience involves spontaneity, trust, and the expression of sometimes difficult emotions.


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