What is DMT?
Dance movement therapy (DMT) is based on the premise that thoughts, feelings and the experience of self are expressed through the body and movement. It is a relational process that integrates emotional, cognitive, physical and social aspects of self.
The DMT approach incorporates knowledge from psychotherapeutic approaches, psychology, sensorimotor and developmental movement, movement analysis and neuroscience. The elements of dance (body awareness, rhythm, time, space, gesture, posture, dynamics) are applied as a framework for exploration, discovery, learning and change. DMT focuses on movement behaviour as it emerges in the therapeutic relationship. Expressive, communicative, and adaptive behaviours are all considered for group and individual treatment. Body movement, as the core component of dance, simultaneously provides the means of assessment and the mode of intervention.
A dance movement therapist has a master's or PhD level of education that is followed by an extensive supervised internship prior to the onset of DMT practice. For more information about how to become a dance movement therapist in Canada, please see the education section.
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How DMT Works
Dance movement therapists apply dance and movement in a therapeutic context. The goal of DMT is not to teach a dance technique. Rather, dance movement therapists apply the elements of dance and movement to facilitate a process that meets the needs and treatment programs of the clients with whom they are working. Dance and movement are applied as a supportive intervention and can also serve as a diagnostic tool. Dance movement therapists work as members of multidisciplinary teams with other educational, medical and mental health professionals.
Why choose DMT?
Dance movement therapy is one of the creative arts therapies. This innovative approach to psychotherapy aligns with current research into the brain and behaviour, and the importance of movement for human development and mental health.
Dance movement therapy recognizes the creative potential of individuals, and values both verbal and non-verbal aspects of expression. The provision of a safe and contained environment offers clients an opportunity to test the impact of self on others. Dance and movement play engages people in a process where relational skills and inner resources can be developed. Increasing an understanding of movement behaviour enables new insights into the connection between inner and outer realities. Accessing creativity through movement allows for new experiences of the self and the rehearsal of adaptive coping behaviours.
Who can benefit?
Dance movement therapy is an effective treatment for people with developmental, medical, cognitive, physical, social and psychological impairments.
Dance movement therapy is practiced in mental health, rehabilitation, medical, educational, community, social service and private practice settings.
Dance movement therapy can be adapted to the needs of people of all ages and backgrounds and practiced in individual, couple, family, and group therapy formats.
Where do DMT's work?
Dance movement therapists work with a wide variety of populations in many different settings. Some examples are:
Detention and correctional facilities
Mental health institutions
Physical rehabilitation centres