Dance Movement Therapy

What is it?

Based on the recognition that children express emotions through their bodies more freely than adults, dance movement therapy aims to help participants regain some of the freedom and spontaneity of expression that is lost through inhibitions created by their emotional and physical experiences. Using movement, hidden emotions are accessed and expressed non-verbally, allowing them into the conscious mind.

Conditions that may respond to Dance Movement Therapy

Abused and traumatised people
Behavioural disorders
Depression Eating disorders
Learning difficulties
Psychotic conditions

How does it work?

For those with physical disabilities it can help to increase awareness of, and improve their relationship with their environment, enabling them to cope better with their disability. For highly articulate people it can be a way to express emotions not easily expressed verbally, while for those who have difficulty using words it can offer a new way of communicating.


Participants can work individually or in a group and treatment usually lasts between 6 weeks and 5 years. Practitioners can work in a number of ways. In an individual session they may move with the participant, mirroring their movements; or they may act as an empathetic observer; or they may reflect their perceptions by dancing alone. At the end of the session time is given to discuss the feelings that have been raised. In a group session the therapist gains insight by watching the participants interact and work with each other.

Most doctors recognise the benefits of dance therapy for those who have physical disability, emotional problems or mental illness and there is a large body of research focussed on the relationship between personality and movement and on movements that are characteristic of certain conditions.

Further Information

Dance movement therapy was developed in response to the large number of returning war veterans physically disabled and traumatised by their experiences. It built on earlier work by Carl Jung, Wilhelm Reich and Rudolf Laban, and was pioneered in the 1940's by Marian Chace, among others, who used dance in her work with schizophrenics.

To find a practitioner contact:

Association for Dance Movement Therapy
32 Meadfoot Lane
Devon TQ1 2BW

Tel: 01803 402142

Email: admin@admp.org.uk 


If you have back pain or high blood pressure you need to check with a doctor before doing vigorous exercise.

If undertaking any therapy always check its suitability for a specific condition.

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