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What is Dance and Movement Therapy?

movement therapy

In order to help you understand what Dance and Movement Therapy is, I need to tell you what it’s not. 

  • It is not dancing to feel better. 

  • It is not the high we experience from exercising. 

  • It is not wiggling your body for a quick release of emotion. 

Sessions may include one or all of those elements, but the scope is much broader and deeper. 

Okay, now that that’s out of the way, the American Dance Therapy Association defines Dance/Movement Therapy as The psychotherapeutic use of movement to promote emotional, social, cognitive and physical integration of the individual. 

Practically, what this means is that all of our experiences as well as those of our ancestors live in our bodies. These memories are physically held and carried in our tissues, muscles, bones and organs. This is not new information-indigenous communities all over the world have always activated the body, music and ritual in service of healing. 

When we connect with our bodies in service of our healing, deeper pathways are formed and more possibilities are unlocked than what arises from verbalizing our experiences alone. 

It is important to say that this modality is available to everyone regardless of differences in physical mobility. Neuroscience tells us that just by visualizing a part of the body moving, we are activating the neural pathways in that part of the body, so working with a diverse range of abilities and movement capacities is available and 

First and foremost, my sessions with clients are oriented around the experience taking place in their bodies, moment to moment, which can look a million different ways. Sometimes it simply looks like inviting my clients to notice what sensations come up as they share a piece of their story, and perhaps place a hand on this area to notice how it responds. Sometimes it looks like embodying or trying on the movement of a particular part of themselves or someone they are in a relationship with. Sometimes it does look like more of an active movement practice that is aimed at freedom of expression. Sometimes we move together, and sometimes they move while I act as a nonverbal, nonjudgmental witness and support them in integrating the experience afterward. As we engage in the creative process together, we trust the moment-to-moment unfolding that inherently opens up more possibilities than were available before. As they widen their nervous system’s capacity to experience life without shutting down or becoming too overwhelmed, they come to trust and authentically express themselves from the inside out. 

My favorite thing about working with the body is how little I know and how curious I get to be. I know nothing about how it physically feels to move through the world as anyone other than me, and there is no need to pretend I have an answer that I don’t. In sessions, I am constantly interplaying between the response that my client’s movement elicits in me and getting curious about what it elicits in them. My job is to hold the sense of deep compassion and genuine curiosity that allows them to connect with the wisdom they already carry. 

What a dream!

If you’d like to explore working in this way, you can book a free 15 minute consult with me, Grace!,  to see if you’d be a good fit. 

somatic healing

Blog Disclaimer - These posts are not meant to treat, diagnose, or serve as a replacement for therapy.  If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health emergency, please contact your local crisis center or dial 911.  Here are more immediate resources as well.


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