Dance Therapy: Harnessing the Power of Movement to Heal

For millions of people around the world, dancing isn’t just a fun way to socialize and let loose; it’s a powerful tool for emotional and mental health. Dance therapy, also called movement therapy, is the use of dance and movement to help people improve their mental and physical well-being. From depression and anxiety to chronic pain and trauma, dance therapy can help people of all ages and backgrounds find relief and strength through the power of movement.

The History of Dance Therapy

The use of dance as a therapeutic tool has been around for centuries. From ancient Greek and Egyptian cultures to Native American communities, dance has long been recognized as a way to promote health, healing, and spiritual connection. However, the modern practice of dance therapy as we know it today began in the 1940s, when a dancer named Marian Chace began using movement to help psychiatric patients communicate and express their emotions. Since then, dance therapy has grown into an innovative and widely used treatment approach for a variety of conditions.

The Benefits of Dance Therapy

Dance therapy can benefit people in many ways, including:

  • Reducing stress and anxiety: Movement can help reduce the levels of stress hormones in the body and promote relaxation.
  • Improving mood: Dancing can stimulate the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals.
  • Enhancing self-esteem: Through dance, individuals can experience a sense of accomplishment and pride in their abilities.
  • Promoting physical health: Dancing can help improve cardiovascular health, balance, coordination, and flexibility.
  • Facilitating emotional expression: Dance therapy provides a safe and supportive environment for individuals to express their emotions through movement.
  • Supporting socialization: Joining a dance class or group can provide a fun and inviting social outlet.
  • Reducing symptoms of chronic pain and illness: Movement can help ease physical symptoms and improve overall quality of life.

Who Can Benefit from Dance Therapy?

Dance therapy can benefit people of all ages and abilities, from children with autism to seniors with Parkinson’s disease. It can be used to treat a variety of mental and physical health conditions, including:

  • Depression and anxiety
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Eating disorders
  • Chronic pain
  • Cancer and other illnesses
  • Neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis

How Dance Therapy Works

Dance therapy sessions are typically led by a trained therapist who uses movement and dance as a way to help clients achieve their treatment goals. These goals may include improving physical health, expressing emotions, reducing anxiety, or improving self-esteem, among others. Dance therapy can be conducted in group or individual settings, depending on the needs and preferences of the client.

The therapist may use a variety of techniques to engage clients in movement, including improvisation, choreography, and structured dances. As clients move their bodies, they are encouraged to become aware of their physical sensations, emotions, and thoughts. This can help them connect with their own inner experiences and gain insight into their feelings and behaviors.

Dance therapy can also incorporate other forms of creative expression, such as music, painting, and writing, to help clients explore different aspects of their emotional and mental states. For example, clients may use music to inspire their movements or create collages that represent their feelings and experiences.

Getting Started with Dance Therapy

If you are interested in exploring dance therapy as a treatment option, there are several steps you can take:

  • Find a trained dance therapist: Look for a therapist who has received education and certification in dance therapy. The American Dance Therapy Association can help you find a qualified therapist in your area.
  • Discuss your goals: Before beginning therapy, talk to your therapist about your treatment goals and what you hope to achieve through dance. This will help your therapist tailor your sessions to your specific needs.
  • Wear comfortable clothing: Make sure you wear clothes that allow you to move freely and comfortably.
  • Be open and willing to participate: Remember that dance therapy is about using movement to express yourself and explore your inner experiences. Be willing to let go of self-consciousness and embrace the process.

The Future of Dance Therapy

As the field of mental health continues to evolve, dance therapy is becoming an increasingly recognized and respected form of treatment. More and more research is being conducted to understand the benefits of dance therapy and how it can be used to help people from all walks of life improve their well-being. With its focus on creativity, self-expression, and physical movement, dance therapy has the potential to help millions of people find healing and hope in their lives.


Dance therapy is a powerful tool for promoting emotional and mental health. By using movement to express feelings, connect with others, and improve physical health, dance therapy offers a unique and effective approach to healing. Whether you are dealing with depression, anxiety, chronic pain, or other issues, dance therapy can help you find relief and strength through the power of movement.


FAQs about Dance Therapy in Australian English

What is Dance Therapy?

Dance Therapy is a form of therapy that involves the use of movement and dance to help people improve their emotional, cognitive, and physical well-being. The therapy is based on the belief that movement and dance can help people express their emotions and feelings, and that this can lead to a greater sense of self-awareness and personal growth.

How does Dance Therapy work?

Dance Therapy works by encouraging people to express themselves through movement and dance. The therapist will work with the client to create movements and dance routines that help to express their emotions and feelings. The therapy can also involve dance improvisation, which allows people to explore their emotions and feelings through movement.

Who can benefit from Dance Therapy?

Dance Therapy can benefit people of all ages and backgrounds. It can be particularly beneficial for people who are dealing with emotional issues, such as anxiety, depression, or trauma. It can also be helpful for people who are dealing with physical issues, such as chronic pain, or for those who are looking to improve their overall well-being. Dance Therapy can be done in individual or group settings, and can be tailored to meet the needs of each client.


1. American Dance Therapy Association. (2019). What is dance/movement therapy?
2. Koch, S. C., & Fuchs, T. (2011). Embodied arts therapies. Handbook of Complementary and Alternative Therapies in Mental Health, 209-222.
3. Schulz, K., & Kaschak, E. (2011). Dance therapy and the healing power of movement: A transformative approach. American Psychological Association.