Researchers of dance therapy discovered tiny infants have the ability to respond to beats in a music and match movements to sounds. Moving feels good and is hardwired in every person. Individuals with dementia may be able to respond to music and movement. Dancing helps break down barriers and provide healing on many levels.
Dance therapy has been considered an approved form of treatment for people with severe cognitive dysfunction since the mid-1990’s. Any individual dealing with a mental health issue including addiction, eating disorder, depression or interpersonal conflict can benefit from dance. Other ways a person may experience benefits from dance therapy include communication and emotional connection which helps people more fully participate in care. Dance therapy differs from traditional dance classes in some of the following ways:
- Help individuals heal from specific mental health disorder through movement and connection
- Use of mirroring techniques to make it more playful
- Trade movements, messages and stories through dance technique
- Utilize group setting to interpret a song or other medium which gets people involved
When an individual and the therapist set specific goals, it helps bring focus and clarity to the dance experience. A quick meeting before the session along with a meeting involving a primary therapist can help the teacher understand underlying issues and problems the person wants to work towards healing. Goals can vary in range including:
- Development of a realistic vision of self
- Provide outlet for nervous energy
- Enhance social skills
- Learn to love and appreciate the body
A therapist can review goals to develop activities which make each one achievable so by the end of the session, the therapist can note progress. At the end of a session, the person may become aware of new sensations or feelings for deeper exploration. The primary therapist is a great place to process what comes up in a dance therapy session.
Myriad benefits are available to individuals who experience a dance therapy session, including an increase in the person’s quality of life and reduction of anxious and depressive feelings. The person may become more aware of underlying issues which need to be addressed with a traditional therapist and experience more positive emotional regulation as a result. A treatment program plan can be developed which may include dance therapy to support an individual’s growth and progress in recovery that helps the person actualize goals and achieve desired outcomes long after therapy ends. The most important thing is to explore different ways to engage in the recovery process and utilize all the tools and resources available at one’s disposal. Dance is a fun, engaging way to bring healing to a person’s life in recovery from addiction.
Dance and movement have positive benefits for people who use what is learned as part of a larger treatment plan. If you are seeking help with addiction, call The Villa to find out how we can support you in finding different resources and therapy techniques to support a healthy recovery.