Dance as Therapy

As some of you know, in addition to teaching through Dancing with Class and at May I Have This Dance, I am a student nurse.  For one of my classes I had to do a report on a Complimentary Alternative Therapy.  Naturally, I chose Dance Therapy.  Sorry for such a long blog, but this is a topic that I find fascinating.
I learned that Movement/Dance Therapy has a great many benefits.  It is effective for individuals with developmental, medical, social, physical and psychological impairments.  I found it interesting that this therapy can be especially helpful for those with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Movement/Dance Therapy helps when someone's experience is so traumatic they can't talk about it; it has the potential to access emotions and issues that may be inaccessible in verbal therapy.

I am clearly in a unique position to report on the benefits of dance because I have all of my fellow instructors experiences, as well as my own.  None of us are certified Movement/Dance Therapists but we have all seen the benefits of dance. Here are some of the things that I learned from other Dancing with Class instructors:
Rachel Singer spoke with me at length about a workshop she took with Dance for Parkinson's Disease (  She told me about one man who couldn't raise his arms much higher than parallel to the ground. However, after a few months of dance he was able to reach for the sky.  Some other patients found that their tremors would often decrease or even temporarily disappear during and after class, sometimes giving them relief for 1 or 2 weeks!!  Here is a quote from Rachel that I liked a lot, "Dance and movement is a way for them (Parkinson's patients) to escape; but to escape through the thing that challenges them the most."
Nicole Gifford told me about her experience teaching a dance class to widows and widowers.  She was able to help them remember joyful thoughts that not only gave them a temporary escape, but also gave them something to look forward to in their lives.  They then brought these thoughts to life by enacting them physically through dance.
Dawn reminded me of students who have used dance to mend their bodies and minds.  With a doctor's consent, these students saw much faster recovery from physically problems and surgeries like shoulder and hip ailments.  Their doctors were impressed with the speed of their recovery.  Other students have used dance to get over a bad break-up or divorce.
Personally I have worked with autistic and blind children.  It was so fulfilling to see the caring showed by the other students when dancing with the autistic or blind children.  It was clear to me that the other students were sweet and sensitive but their other classes did not give them the opportunity to share this side of themselves.Additionally, I have seen children who dislike gym class and sports embrace dance.  Their faces light up when they find this physical activity in which they are able to excel.

Movement/Dance Therapy is used as a Complimentary Alternative Therapy for many illnesses including Alzheimer's disease, dementia, autism, PTSD, depression, eating disorders, rape victims and survivors of sexual abuse and incest.  It is also helpful for those with chronic and life threatening illnesses such as cancer to help deal with pain, fear of death and changes in body image.  This therapy can be utilized to aid the deaf, blind, physically handicapped, mental retardation and learning disabilities.  It is even helpful for those confined to wheelchairs.  And health insurance may cover some or all costs.
If you're interested in learning more about Movement/Dance Therapy check out the American Dance Therapy Association at


  1. Such a fascinating topic and so many great perspectives here. Thanks for opening our minds with this post, Michael!

  2. love this! thanks for sharing :)