Dance Therapy Effect in the Treatment of Psychological Issues

Dance Therapy Effect in the Treatment of Psychological Issues
Written By: Counselling Psychologist
M.Sc. Psychology - Swansea University, UK.
Reviewed By: Counselling Psychologist
MA Psychology Pennsylvania State University, USA
Last Updated: 28-03-2023

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Dance therapy involves the movement of the body to achieve cognitive, emotional, social, and physical benefits. Moving is good for the mind, body, and soul. Dance therapy is said to reduce stress and help in mood management. This kind of therapy can be helpful to all kinds of people in the population like couples, families, or groups. DMT’s (dance movement therapy) components help provide increased muscular strength, mobility, coordination, focus, and decreased muscular tension. In general, it provides self-awareness, boosts self-esteem, and provides a safe space to express your feelings.

It is commonly used to treat physical, cognitive, psychological, and social issues such as:


  • Childhood obesity
  • Chronic pain
  • Arthritis
  • Hypertension
  • Cardiovascular disease


  • Communication issues
  • Dementia


  • Anxiety
  • Disordered eating
  • Depression
  • Poor self-esteem
  • Post-traumatic stress
  • Autism


  • Aggression
  • Social interaction
  • Domestic violence trauma
  • Family conflict

DMT sessions include assessment, observation, warm-ups, verbal processing, and warm-downs which are focused on closure. Although all therapists have different styles of dance/movement there are certified dance movements that they adhere to. Sessions can be very structured or unstructured and may be conducted in groups or individually.

The mission of this therapy is to facilitate life-span development, assess, evaluate, and develop treatment goals, implement planned interventions, etc. Most people know that dancing is good for health, it improves coordination, balance, cardiovascular endurance, muscle tone, etc. Dance can help boost anyone’s mood. Improve body image and provide opportunities for fun and can lower stress and anxiety. People in treatment with dance therapists have the right to confidentiality, therapists provide a safe space for expression. People in treatment tend to express their emotions- conscious and unconscious through dance. It becomes like a language that the therapist understands and helps the patients work on issues through the use of “movement vocabulary”.

Treatments are usually modified according to the patient’s needs. Some examples include:

  • The use of mirroring (matching/echoing the person's movements) is used to show empathy for an individual and validation for their experience.
  • Incorporating jumping rhythms into dance for a group of people with high anxiety and stress or signs of depression has been shown to decrease vertical movement.
  • Using “movement metaphor” to help patients physically show a therapeutic challenge or achievement.

Dance therapy can be traced back to the 19th century with the start of the modern dance movement. The movement was started from the idea that dance can be more than just entertainment and can also be used as a way to express one’s emotions, desires, thoughts, etc. In a way, dance was sought out to be a medium through which people could express their emotions. The foundation of dance therapy was formed by pioneers like Marian Chase, Trudy Schoop, and Mary Whitehouse. They added observation, manipulation and interpretation, and other dance elements into practice.

Dance therapy was influenced by psychodynamic theory in the 1940s. Today, it is mostly influenced by grouping theoretical frameworks including gestalt theory, psychodynamic theory, and humanistic theory.

From the above-mentioned information, it can be concluded that dance therapy is vital for physical, emotional, and mental stability.  It helps regulate the peace and integrity of mind, body, and soul. This approach unites both dance and psychology, which helps the patient gain self-knowledge, develop creativity and improve communication skills. Dance therapy makes you experience the feelings and sensations in your body. it helps in reclaiming the authentic connection between words and actions.



Swaine, B., Poncet, F., Lachance, B., Proulx-Goulet, C., Bergeron, V., Brousse, É., Lamoureux, J. and Mckinley, P., 2020. The effectiveness of dance therapy as an adjunct to rehabilitation of adults with a physical disability. Frontiers in Psychology, 11, p.1963.

Koch, Sabine C., Roxana FF Riege, Katharina Tisborn, Jacelyn Biondo, Lily Martin, and Andreas Beelmann. "Effects of dance movement therapy and dance on health-related psychological outcomes. A meta-analysis update." Frontiers in psychology 10 (2019): 1806.



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