What Is Dance Therapy And How Can It Help You?

What Is Dance Therapy And How Can It Help You?

From Imran Ali

One of the best things about dancing is that it’s versatile. It can act as a sport, an art, and a form of exercise, allowing people of all ages and skill levels to enjoy it.

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The article is developed in partnership with BetterHelp.

One of the best things about dancing is that it’s versatile. It can act as a sport, an art, and a form of exercise, allowing people of all ages and skill levels to enjoy it. There are numerous genres to pick from, including ballet, hip-hop, jazz, and tap. Other popular forms of dance include salsa, belly dancing, two-step, and swing. Some people may choose to dance for fun, while others might dance competitively or even professionally.

Beyond being a hobby, career choice, or competitive sport, dancing can also be a therapeutic approach, known as dance therapy. Dancing engages the mind and body while emotionally and even spiritually connecting people to the experience. Thus, individuals who participate in dance therapy can reap numerous benefits that can improve their well-being and quality of life. Here, we’ll discuss what dance therapy entails and how it can help you with a variety of concerns.

What Is Dance Therapy?

Dance therapy is a therapeutic approach that incorporates movement to help people heal from a range of emotional, physical, social, and mental health concerns. This holistic technique rests on the idea that the mind, body, and spirit are connected, meaning that when someone works on and improves in one of these areas, all the others also benefit.  Likewise, when an area is neglected, the others suffer as well.

Dance therapists focus on helping their clients achieve all-around wellness by encouraging them to care for their bodies, develop healthy habits, and expand their skills. Therapists often equip their clients with new coping methods to help them deal with symptoms of stress, depression, or burnout. They may also assist clients in developing healthier levels of self-esteem and improving their body image. Above all, they’re there to help their clients recognize and reach their full potential.

Dance therapy may take place in a group or individually, depending on an individual’s needs as well as the options available in their area. If you’re interested in participating in dance therapy, a quick web search can often connect you to local dance therapists who may be able to help you reach your goals.

How Can Dance Therapy Help You?

While almost anyone can gain something from dance therapy, the outcomes each person experiences can vary. The following are some of the benefits you may experience when you participate in dance therapy:

       Heightened self-esteem: Dancing can help you develop higher levels of self-esteem as you learn new moves, grow stronger, and receive praise from your instructors and peers. Regardless of your skill level, you can begin to master new dance techniques and routines, boosting your self-confidence and filling you with a sense of accomplishment. Dancing may also assist you in reaching your fitness goals, which can help you feel more positive about your body and physical capabilities.

       Lowered risk of disease: Because dancing gets your heart rate going and allows you to stay physically fit, it can be instrumental in preventing numerous diseases and physical health conditions including type 2 diabetes, dementia, heart disease, obesity, chronic pain, and more. You can participate in dance therapy no matter how old or skilled you are, allowing you to go at your own pace as you work your way toward improved health.

       Improved interpersonal skills: While you always have the option to dance alone, choosing to participate in this activity with other people can give you the chance to build new connections, foster a sense of belonging within your community, and improve your social skills. Regularly interacting with other people can reduce feelings of social anxiety by helping you feel more confident in approaching new people and finding ways to relate to them. It can also fill you with a sense of belonging and stave off feelings of loneliness or isolation.

       Enhanced ability to express oneself: Self-expression can be challenging for many people, as we’re often concerned with fitting in and being accepted by other people. If you’ve ever struggled to express your thoughts and feelings, dance therapy could offer a solution. Through different movements, exercises, and routines, you can dig deep into your emotions and express them in a safe, supportive environment. While you may not be able to express yourself verbally, dance therapy can offer an alternative routine for saying what you need to say without ever opening your mouth.

       Increased strength and flexibility: Dancing can be a very demanding activity, as it requires you to engage multiple muscle groups all at once. This can increase your strength and improve your muscle tone, enabling you to do more challenging movements over time and hold different positions for longer periods. You may also choose to stretch before dancing, which can improve your flexibility and posture and allow you to perform with a greater range of motion.

       Reduced mental health concerns: One of the most promising outcomes of dance therapy is its ability to alleviate symptoms of mental health conditions like anxiety and depression. Dancing can provide you with a sense of purpose while giving you something to look forward to. It can also be a powerful way to relieve stress, as it gives you a healthy outlet for any negative or overwhelming emotions you might be experiencing. Rather than turning to unhealthy coping mechanisms, you can engage your mind and body in dance, improving your physical and mental wellness.

       Enhanced coordination: Dance therapy can help you improve your coordination by teaching you how to maintain your balance, match your movements to other dancers, and pay close attention to your timing. Dancing often relies on repetitive movements and the use of different motor skills to form a routine. By practicing and learning how to execute these unique movements, you can master control over your body and enhance your coordination skills over time.

       Improved self-awareness: When you participate in dance therapy, it’s crucial that you stay focused and present in the moment. Staying in tune with your body and mind can help you become more aware of the sensations and emotions you’re feeling as well as what you’re thinking. As you grow in self-awareness and introspection, you can come to understand yourself on a deeper level, allowing you to recognize your desires and needs more easily and ultimately leading you to live more authentically.

       Sharpened focus: Dancing often requires staying on beat and keeping your focus to avoid being late on a move or even getting injured. Because dance therapy helps you stay in the moment, it can teach you how to remain focused and engaged in your daily life, even when there are distractions around you. This improved concentration can enhance your productivity at work, school, and home, leading you to develop a greater sense of control over your life.

Dancing is more than a hobby or form of exercise. Rather, it’s a powerful tool for improving your physical and mental well-being, enhancing your interpersonal skills, and helping you achieve personal growth. Whether you’ve been dancing for years or feel like you have two left feet, you may find that participating in dance therapy helps you forge a path to improved wellness and a higher quality of life. It might be intimidating to try something new, but the host of benefits you can experience may make jumping into the unknown worth it. 

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