Monday Memo 11/05/2018

The Monday Memo

November 5th, 2018                                                                           PITT DPT STUDENTS

Dancing to the Beat of Healing

Physical Therapy is a holistic approach to healing and physical wellbeing, but there are other practices that simultaneously target the body and mind when addressing the needs of each patient.  Dance Movement Therapy, like physical therapy, uses movement as an assessment tool, as well as a primary mode of intervention.  Dance Movement Therapy is defined by the American Dance Therapy Association as, “the psychotherapeutic use of movement to promote emotional, social, cognitive, and physical integration of the individual, for the purpose of improving health and well-being.”  The target of Dance Movement Therapy sessions is to use verbal and nonverbal communication to stage interventions to address the social, emotional, physical, and cognitive integration of an individual.  Dance Movement Therapists see patients with a variety mental health conditions, as well as those with medical conditions such as neurological disorders, traumatic brain injuries, Parkinson’s, Multiple Sclerosis, spinal cord injuries, cancer, fibromyalgia, and chronic pain.  Sessions often take place in moderately sized groups to facilitate the opportunity for touch, socialization, and group creativity. Simply moving together can connect patients without the use of verbal language.

Dance Movement Therapy is commonly practiced in mental health and psychiatric facilities, prisons, schools, nursing homes, eating disorder clinics, crisis centers, military facilities, private practices, hospices, forensic settings, and Alzheimer’s and dementia care facilities.  Dance movement therapy is also practiced in wellness centers, hospitals, physical rehabilitation centers, preschools, and adolescent day treatment centers.

Dance movement therapy has the ability to empower patients through embodiment.  The goal is that this confidence will ooze into their everyday lives and make a positive impact on both their physical and mental wellbeing.  Sessions are centered around each client’s individual needs at that exact moment.  For that reason, in recent studies, Dance Movement Therapy was seen to increase patient quality of life in both the short, and long term.  Additionally, dance movement therapy was seen to effectively decrease depression and anxiety, while simultaneously increasing subjective well-being, positive mood, affect, and body image.

Even in physical therapy, it is clear to see the power music has on each patient.  Whether the patient is using music as a form of motivation and distraction from physical pain, or to sway to the music while they perform an exercise, music can have a big impact on the patient’s experience and progression in therapy.  Collaborating with Dance Movement Therapists in clinical settings could assist in making treatment fun, functional, and patient centered!  The practice of Dance Movement Therapy is on the rise, so get excited to work with DMTs in the future!


-Mariah Callas, SPT



  2. Check out this article: Dance Therapy Helps Alzheimer’s Patients Connect with Loved Ones

  1. Research regarding the effectiveness of dance movement therapy:

November 5, 2018 |

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