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Dance/Movement Therapy

What is Dance/Movement Therapy?

According to the American Dance Therapy Association (ADTA), Dance/Movement therapy (D/MT) is the psychotherapeutic use of movement to address the physical, emotional, social, psychological and spiritual needs during the healing process. The foundational belief in D/MT is that the body, mind, and spirit are interconnected. Body movement is the core component of dance. Movement can facilitate assessment, a therapeutic relationship, expression, communication, and adaptive behaviors. D/MT is a therapeutic tool that is designed to address physical, emotional, social, psychological and spiritual needs during the healing process.

  • D/MT is practiced in mental health, rehabilitation, medical, educational and forensic settings, It can also be found in nursing homes, day care centers, disease prevention initiatives, health promotion programs and in private practice.
  • D/MT can be effective for individuals with developmental, medical, social, physical, and psychological impairments.
  • D/MT can be used with people of all ages, races, ethnic backgrounds and with individuals, couples, families, or group formats.

What is Dance/Movement Therapy at UF Health Shands Hospital?

Within the Arts in Medicine program D/MT is offered in an effort to provide whole person care for individuals living with medical illness and the people who care for them. Even the most compassionate care can be traumatic for patients and families.

A dance/movement therapist may visit a patient or their loved one individually or in a small group setting, and may provide therapy in a single session, or in multiple visits, depending upon participation availability and the treatment plan.

During a D/MT session participants may be invited to:

  • Identify therapeutic goals for the session such as relaxation or increased energy
  • Notice without judgment the breath, heart beat and physical sensations
  • Move with and without music as desired
  • Use small gestures and/or whole body postures to imagine wholeness and health
  • Imagine healing words, symbols or phrases, and dance them
  • Practice ancient healing movement traditions using dance, music, or drumming
  • Write poetry and sing songs from select movement patterns or phrases
  • Connect with others in the room through movement and music

The benefits of D/MT may include:

  • New ways to express feelings about hospitalization, living with illness and the healing process
  • Improved communication with loved ones and the clinical care team
  • Increased sense of peace, meaning, relaxation and restfulness
  • Increased circulation, physical energy, range of motion and vitality
  • Improved compliance with the medical plan of care
  • Enhanced sense of self and connection to others including peers, family members or staff
  • Reduced pain and anxiety
  • New tools that can be actively used to cope with future obstacles