Dance Movement Therapy


The Dance Movement Therapy Association of Australia is the professional body for practitioners, students, researchers and others interested in Dance-Movement Therapy".


Links to their websites:    www. 


The modality of dance/movement therapy had its beginnings in the USA in the 1940’s. It came into existence as a partnership between modern dance and psychiatry. Pioneered by Marian Chace whose dance classes provided unique opportunities for self-expression, communication, and group interaction, Dance therapy (also called dance/movement therapy) is the use of  improvised movement as a way of treating social, emotional, cognitive, and physical problems. Since the 1940’s, dance/movement therapists have developed methods for clinical use with clients representing most areas of healthcare. Several papers have presented dance/movement therapy as a treatment model for non-pain, chronic pain and psychosomatic clients. (Lewis et al 1995, Ambra 1995, Theorell et al 1998, Cohen et al 1999, Boris 2001, Ellis 2001, Nystrom 2002).



                                                                                                              Dance Therapists

 Dance therapists can  address specific problems in specific ways. For example, to help a client reduce stress, a dance therapist would first identify how the person's body reacts to stress, and then explore specific movement techniques to increase circulation, deepen breathing, and reduce muscle tension. Moving as a group can bring people out of isolation, creates powerful social and emotional bonds, and generates the good feelings that come from being with others. Moving rhythmically eases muscular rigidity, diminishes anxiety, and increases energy. Moving spontaneously helps people learn to recognize and trust their impulses, and to act on or contain them as they choose (Hanna 1995). 'Moving creatively encourages self-expression and opens up new ways of thinking and doing'. Different dance therapists have different styles, but you need absolutely no previous dance training to benefit from dance therapy. Most therapists stress on creative movement that helps a person to know within himself and in time reach out to others. People develop the power to express themselves, their creative process improves and they feel confident (Cruz, 2004).

The body movement reflects the inner state of the person and in dance therapy you move the body within guided therapeutic settings, thus triggering a healing process.   Dance therapy can also be used as a meditation practice to quiet the mind, foster self-knowledge, and increase awareness. In addition, dance therapy is beneficial in alleviating emotional distress that is expressed through the body. (Payne, 2006) These conditions include eating disorders, excessive clinging, and anxiety attacks. Since movements are related to thoughts and feelings, movement therapy can also bring about changes in attitude and emotions (Meekums, 2002). People report an increase in self-esteem and self-image. (Hornack & Baker, 1989, Chodorow, 1999, Goodill, 2004).  Communication skills can be enhanced and tolerance of others increased. The physical openness facilitated by movement therapy leads to greater emotional openness and creativity (Levy 1992, Thurlin 1995).

Who benefits from participation in individual and group Dance/Movement Therapy

People from any background who are interested in creative approaches to healing themselves

Anyone who has interpersonal communication and/or emotional problems.
Neurotic Individuals
Psychotic individuals
Physically challenged
Developmental disabled
School children at risk
Learning Disabled
Stroke victims
People with AIDS
Substance Abusers


Authentic Movement

Authentic Movement is a  self-directed form in which individuals may discover a movement pathway that offers a bridge between the conscious and the unconscious. Authentic Movement is derived from a Jungian method of analysis and was created by Mary Starks Whitehouse - Pioneer in Dance Movement Therapy. 'Authentic Movement explores the relationship between a mover and a witness, being seen and seeing. (Pallaro, 2007).   The mover and witness together can achieve a level of perception of self and other that evokes deep respect and empathy" (Whitehouse, Adler & Chodorow 1999).


The trans-formative power of this work is profoundly connected to the creative source of therapy, artistry and our humanity.Therapists will have an opportunity to gain an embodied understanding of the somatic intricacies in the therapeutic relationship. Artists will have an opportunity to move through old patterns, and to reconnect with the lifeblood of their own aesthetic impulse.Educators may replenish by returning to the wisdom of the body, as our original text.Those who seek will have an opportunity to embody questions of the spirit' (Levy, 1995, Chodorow 1991).

                                                                                                                                       "The symbols of the self arise in the depths of the body." - C.G. Jung