Dance Movement Psychotherapy is a body based psychotherapy
The body in motion
Dance Movement Psychotherapy (DMP), also referred to as Dance Movement Therapy (DMT) is, with Art Therapy, Music Therapy and Drama Therapy, one of the four expressive art therapies.
DMP is a body based psychodynamic psychotherapy. Based on the body-mind connection, DMP considers spontaneous and improvised movement as a reflection on and expression of the inner emotional world of the person.
No dancing experience is required, let alone “knowing how to dance”! When we walk, sit down or talk, our movement, stillness, breathing, body posture, etc., express much more than we imagine.
…every movement can lead to changes in the psyche, enabling well-being and personal development… [ ] DMT works with movement, emotion, body and its own language.
– Spanish Dance Movement Therapy Association (ADMTE), 2012
DMT traces its roots back to the 1940s in the USA, and the pioneering work of Marian Chace. After finishing her professional career as a dancer, Chace started teaching modern dance in Washington D.C.
Chace soon realized that some of her students were much more interested in the emotions expressed in movement than in learning a dance technique as such. It was at this point that she started to explore how dance could be used as a way of expressing oneself.
At the same time as Chace was beginning to explore the expressive and therapeutic potential of dance, group therapy, first put in practice in 1920s, was also beginning to gain recognition. The first full-time dance therapist was employed in 1947 at the St. Elizabeth Hospital, Washington D.C. Chace called the sessions “Dance for communication”. It was the beginning of what we currently know as Dance Movement Therapy (DMT)/Dance Movement Psychotherapy (DMP).
Who can benefit from DMT?
WE can ALL benefit from it!
DMT can be used with many different groups of people, from different backgrounds, at different life stages and with diverse needs. DMT does not require any dancing expertise or any special artistic, physical or psychic skills. In fact, DMT has often been used with people whose mobility is severely limited. As such, it is more a matter of attitude: of being willing to try to connect with our bodies, and to use our body movement as a mode of expression, and complement it with words.
The scope is broad, but I highlight and include bibliographic references of some empirical studies:
Psychotherapy and personal growth
For people interested in experiencing the body-mind relationship in movement and how this influences the general well-being
For healthcare professionals
“Taking care of yourself” is fundamental to practice as a therapist, nurse, pshysician,etc.
Trauma and violence
Victims of violence (gender and/or sexual abuse)