Benefits of Dance Movement Therapy for Treating PTSD

Guest Post by: Marcela De Vivo

imagery_04_11_08_000765Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition caused by a traumatic event. What defines a traumatic event is hard to pinpoint, often examples include serious near death experience and war are commonly cited.

When a person has PTSD, they may experience nightmares or flashbacks where they feel the same anxiety they felt during the traumatic event. Some people are haunted by uncontrollable thoughts of the particular event according to the Mayo Clinic.

Getting psychiatric treatment for PTSD is important, and medical attention should be sought as soon as possible. While seeking treatment may help with PTSD, it may not cure it overnight.

Along with seeking standard treatment for PTSD, there are alternative treatments that have been getting a fair amount of attention. Dance movement therapy is one of those alternative treatments, and there is some evidence that it may help people with PTSD lead more normal, happy lives when paired with traditional treatment methods.

What is Dance Movement Therapy?

Dance movement therapy is a form of therapy designed to use body movement as a method of exploring feelings and developing connectedness between the body and mind. Practitioners of dance movement therapy believe that individuals with PTSD can benefit from having a better understanding of their body and mind, giving them more control over their feelings and reactions to negative thoughts.

Who Teaches Dance Movement Therapy?

Dance movement therapy teachers are practitioners of psychotherapy in reputable institutions. Many of the people who teach dance movement therapy also have a background in physical therapy, allowing them to help patients who may have PTSD and physical injuries caused by the traumatic event.

If you’re interested in dance movement therapy, don’t be afraid to ask for a particular practitioner’s credentials and experience before enrolling in classes or therapy.

Body Perception

People who have PTSD because of a traumatic event that harmed them physically may have altered body perception – meaning they feel pain or simply disconnected from their own bodies. Dance movement therapy is designed to help these people come to better understand their body after a traumatic accident that may have altered their perception.

Who Can Do Dance Movement Therapy?

Dance movement therapy isn’t just for people with PTSD, but it is commonly used for that purpose. While many people believe they have to be in great shape to participate in dance movement therapy sessions, that isn’t the case.

Almost anybody can participate in dance movement therapy, regardless of their age or physical condition. Dance movement therapy sessions are tailored to the patient, so the activities and movements involved won’t be too strenuous.

The movements involved in dance therapy sessions may also be related to the traumatic event that the person experienced. This is very individualized, and practitioners of dance movement therapy may need to work with the patient a bit before they can tailor their therapy plan accordingly.

What Are Dance Movement Therapy Sessions Like?

When you first start in dance movement therapy sessions, you’ll be taught how to safely move your body. You’ll also start to learn basic movements that will be used throughout all levels of sessions.

Once basic safety is taught, free-form sessions are often initiated, allowing patients to express themselves through movement. Discussion of the movements and their meaning is also commonly part of these sessions.

Dance movement therapy sessions end in an evaluation stage when the patient and practitioner talk about the importance and significance of the process.

Stress Reduction

One of the biggest benefits of dance movement therapy for people with PTSD is stress reduction. Just like with yoga, dance movement therapy can help a patient find their center and come to terms with what has happened in their life.

Dance movement therapy is also a light form of exercise, which can release tension in many people and cause them to feel less stressed and anxious in their daily lives.

While traditional treatment is necessary for PTSD, dance movement therapy can be particularly beneficial when it comes to stress reduction, and many patients that take on dance movement therapy find that they feel more relaxed after sessions.

About the author: Marcela De Vivo is a blogger and mother of three. She has a son that has holoprosencephaly. When she isn’t having fun with her kids she is blogging about skin care health and tips for Skintrium.

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