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Unlocking the Body's Wisdom: The Journey of Dance/Movement Therapy

If you have ever noticed a mood boost after taking a walk outside (or even on a walking pad these days), exercising at the gym, or dancing around your kitchen, you have experienced firsthand the benefits movement has to offer.


Dance/movement therapy (DMT) is a psychotherapeutic discipline that harnesses the inherent benefits of creativity, dance, and movement and applies them intentionally to the practice of therapy. Combining psychology, dance, and neuroscience, the discipline of DMT builds on the evidence of the mind-body connection. What happens in the mind is going to show up in the body, and therefore what happens on a body level can create change in the mind.


Dance/movement therapy recognizes that emotions are multidimensional and are present in our thoughts, actions, and physical experiences. By pairing movement and awareness of physical sensations with verbal processing, dance therapists are able to support growth towards a variety of social, emotional, cognitive, and behavioral goals in addition to supporting overall health and well-being.


The American Dance Therapy Association (ADTA) defines DMT as “the psychotherapeutic use of movement to promote emotional, social, cognitive and physical integration of the individual.”


Dance/movement therapy’s roots can be traced back to the 1940s. Influenced by psychoanalytic, Gestalt, and humanistic approaches to psychology, dance/movement therapy can be found in a variety of therapeutic settings, including hospitals, residential treatment, therapeutic and public schools, day programs, and private practices. All dance/movement therapists are masters-level clinicians with specialized training in combining movement and verbal counseling techniques overseen by the ADTA.



At RVA Counseling, I am a board-certified dance/movement therapist and a licensed professional counselor. Please don’t let the word ‘dance’ intimidate you; I tailor my therapeutic approach to best suit the needs of my clients and each person’s comfortability with movement. Dance/movement therapy may look different for everyone, and I believe no one is ever too old for playfulness, fun, and movement. When working with children, I may incorporate games, make-believe, and play into sessions to help kids work on impulse control, building body and social awareness, emotion regulation, and discussing difficult experiences.


Adolescence can be a time when teens experience discomfort and distress as they develop their own identities. When working with teens, I focus on building awareness of how emotions and stress manifest themselves in the body and building a positive relationship between teens, movement, and their physical selves. Adults can benefit from dance/movement therapy, too; mirroring and rhythmic movements, cultivating mindfulness and breath work, and physically navigating challenges can help build insight for adult clients and support feelings of joy, stability, and healing.


If you are interested in learning more or exploring how dance/movement therapy can benefit you, please feel free to reach out to RVA Counseling!




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