Dance often is related to leotards, tights, shoes, recitals, performances or celebraties participating in a ballroom competition. While these are valid aspects of dance there is more to the realm of dance. Dance therapy is a vehicle that helps people deal with and overcome their emotional and physical ailments. It is therapeutic and offers a journey of self discovery and appreciation.
History of Dance Therapy
Dance therapy was developed through the genre of modern dance. The modern dance pioneers known as Martha Graham, Doris Humphrey and Isadora Duncan broke away from the traditional ballet repertoire and created movement that encouraged creativity, spontaneity, individuality and personal expression. The psychoanalytic philosophy movement developed by thinkers such as Sigmund Freud and Alfred Adler encouraged the beginning of using dance for therapeutic purposes.
How does Dance Therapy work?
Dance therapists believe that emotional and physiological ailments often represent themselves in the body as muscle tension. Dance provides a way to release the tension through movement while allowing the inner feelings to be expressed via movement. Everyone has their own unique way of moving, even professional dancers who learn new choreography daily have their own specific way of moving. Discovering one's own way of moving is energizing, it's like learning how your body speaks, for movement is language of the body. A Dance therapist's goal is to develop a safe environment that helps the client to discover their own body movement.
Whatever a person's problem, whether is be in their mind, spirit or anatomical it is encased within their body. Dance is movement, and movement is created by the beautiful instrument The Human Body. Yes, the body is an instrument and in order to understand it one must use it. The gift of a mortal, tangible body make's life on earth a physical experience yet many people spend so much time focusing on their emotional and intellectual needs that they forget to experience life physically. The beauty of Dance Therapy is that is doesn't take the place of emotional and intellectual needs surprisingly it is a tool to better understand the body as a whole being.
Dance is often refereed to as the most complete of all the Arts. This is argued because dance can utilize intelligence, spirituality, discovery and spontaneity while the body is producing art. It is an amazing feeling to experience movement spontaneously being created within ones body, it is awe inspiring and fulfilling.
Obviously there are the physical health benefits that come with the realm of Dance Therapy but equally or more importantly are the healing benefits. Moving in unison with others expels isolation that we often place upon ourselves; instead it has the power to fuel feelings unity and strength. Rhythm has the ability to energize while loosening muscles and reducing anxiety. Fostering spontaneity helps the body freely speak it is a wonderful tool to explore emotions and realize your personal limitations. Moving creatively offers an opportunity to express what is within while discovering new aspects of the surrounding environment. These are all wonderful tools' that help you release the needs your body has.
What to expect out of Dance Therapy
Obviously Dance Therapy can appear intimidating especially if you have never danced. Dance Therapy is unlike attending a regular dance class at a studio, there is no pressure to perform or increase your flexibility. Dance Therapy is a place where you experience your body regardless of its abilities.
Dance Therapist's may work for a treatment team or have their own private practice. Dance Therapist may teach group sessions, individual sessions or both. Often you personal situation and needs will determine whether you will work individually or in a group. Depending on your reasons for using dance as therapy will alter what type of movement your trainer will introduce you to. Some people may move very little other might work up a sweat.
For sessions with a Dance Therapist it is wise to wear clothing that is comfortable and unrestrictive.
How to become a Dance Therapist
The American Dance Therapy Association explains Dance Therapy requirements as:
Entry into the profession of dance/movement therapy is at the Master's level. The title "Dance Therapists Registered" (DTR) is granted to entry level dance/movement therapists who have a master's degree which includes 700 hundred hours of supervised clinical internship. The advanced level of registry, "Academy of Dance Therapists", (ADTR) is awarded only after DTRs have completed 3,640 hours of supervised clinical work in an agency, institution or special school, with additional supervision from an ADTR.