Arts therapies

Explains what arts therapies are, what they are for, what happens during therapy and how to find a therapist.

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What is dance movement therapy?

Dance movement therapy (or dance therapy) involves using a range of different dance and movement styles.

During a session, your therapist may:

  • watch the way you move, or copy the way you move to better understand how you are feeling
  • encourage you to change your movements to help change the way you feel. For example, if you are feeling low, you may hunch your shoulders and appear smaller than you are. Your therapist may encourage you to reach up and out and stand more upright, to help to increase your self-esteem.
When doing dance therapy, it's a good idea to wear loose, comfortable clothes and light, flat shoes or bare feet, so you feel comfortable when you are moving around.

How might dance movement therapy help me?

Dancing and moving may help you become more aware of emotions that you find hard to talk about, and feel more comfortable with your body.

Dance therapy can be particularly helpful if you:

  • have negative feelings about your body — for example, if you have a mental health problem related to your appearance, such as an eating problem or body dysmorphic disorder
  • find physical contact with other people difficult
  • feel detached or disconnected from your surroundings, or out-of-touch with everyday life
  • are taking medication that affects the way you move — for example, if you are taking antipsychotics and the side effects make you stiff or slow
  • have been physically or sexually abused, which has affected how you feel about your body or the way you move

This information was published in 2016. We will revise it in 2019.


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