Meta-Analysis on the positive effects of Dance and Movement Therapy, 2015

Movement is a human’s first form of expression. As children we learn to move first, before we even learn to speak. And as we grow we allow ourselves to be moulded by our culture and lifestyles. We let our movements be restricted within certain self-made boundaries. This then becomes a norm of our life.

Dance and Movement Therapy (DMT)

Dance/movement therapy is the psychotherapeutic use of movement to further the emotional, cognitive, physical and social integration of the individual.

– American Dance Therapy Association

Dance and movement therapists use nonverbal language expressed through a person’s body and design interventions to meet that person’s needs.

Review of Literature:

Research has proved that dance is a healing art. That creative movement works wonders on adults and children alike. It helps in increasing a sense of vitality. DMT is seen to be beneficial for a wide range of individuals; ranging from those who are generally healthy as well as those who are emotionally or mentally disturbed, physically or intellectually disabled

Dance interventions can help in reducing depression, increase positive feelings, improving moods, increasing a sense of well-being and bringing new life and energy in lives where it may be low or missing. DMT is not about performance or getting skilled in a particular form of dance. DMT is about creative expression where an integration of the mind and body takes place which further fortifies, increases and speeds up the healing and recovery process. According to the American Cancer Society, dance and movement therapy is recommended as a complementary treatment for individuals suffering with cancer to reduce stress and improve self-esteem.  The ACS indicates that supporters of dance/movement therapy state that it is beneficial for:  providing exercise, improving mobility, muscle coordination, reducing muscle tension, improving self awareness, self-confidence, interpersonal interaction, communicating feelings, and potentially strengthening the immune system.

A study from the journal, The Arts in Psychotherapy (2007) found that dance therapy had a positive effect on participants experiencing symptoms of depression.

Many other studies including a study from the American Journal of Dance Therapy (2004), in which 54 students participated in a dance therapy violence prevention program, found that aggression among participants decreased and pro-social behaviors increased with the use of DMT. A literature review from the American Journal of Dance Therapy indicated that DMT may be a treatment option for children on the autism spectrum.


This meta-analysis is a compilation of case studies done by the participants for the partial fulfilment of the Dance Therapy Certificate Course. The research studies were mainly qualitative and discuss the benefits of dance therapy for elderly population as well as children with special needs.

Discussion and Conclusion

Based on the studies, a considerable amount of qualitative data has been obtained which can be further used for research purposes. The in-depth case studies done by the researches show that DMT indeed has positive effects on middle aged, elderly as well as physically/psychologically impaired populations.

In a study conducted by Anita Gugale, it was found that the DMT interventions conducted on Children with autism to enhance their social and communication skills were successful. The children were more responsive and engaging at the end of the 3 month intervention. There were improvements in their vocabulary, cooperation and concentration. There was a considerable reduction in the tantrums of the children and they enjoyed the sessions.

Supritha Aithal conducted another study on ‘Effectiveness of Dance Movement Therapy for Well Being of Children with Hearing Impairment’. The study was intended to establish if there was a significant difference in overall well being of children with hearing impairment through dance movement therapy. The study also aimed at analyzing several underlying factors and variables affecting each domain of well being of children with hearing impairment and possible strategies that could be effective through DMT. The researcher focused to design and identify a set of movement activities, which acted like therapeutic and recreational games to facilitate the well being of these children. This was done by pre and post training comparison of 24 participants with profound hearing loss. Statistical analysis and descriptive analyses were carried out. The results revealed that DMT is effective in building psychological, physical and social resources in order to face the challenges and maintain the balance. The children with hearing impairment have been benefitted extensively through this process.

In Sheeja and Naina’s study, the research work was done in a corporate environment in Pune with 6 employees. Their ages ranged between 25 and 45 years. The participants improved extensively in the domains of Group cohesiveness, Understanding and taking ownership, being responsible for what they care about, and their awareness levels at the end of the DMT intervention.

Neha and Vanita wanted to study if ‘Dance movement therapy reduces anxiety and tension and leads to a relaxed state of being free in the elderly’. This study was based on the effects of Dance and Movement Therapy on a group of six adults between the age group of 55 to 75 years. The participants took part in extracurricular activites at a community centre for the aged. With DMT, Neha and Vanita believed that the elderly could break away from the general monotony and unproductive nature of their existence and become useful participants of society. The research work done with men and women who felt unwanted , non-productive, and constricted was successful with an increase in confidence and participation.

This meta-analysis observed that DMT is beneficial for both physical and mental health. Dance therapy can be used to reduce stress, prevent diseases, and mood management. In addition, DMT is highly beneficial in promoting self awareness, confidence, self esteem and free expression. Team building, cohesiveness anger management are some other factors that can be enhanced with the help of DMT. Dance/movement therapy can be used with individuals, couples, families, or groups.

But it is also imperative that this process of DMT needs to be administered on a regular basis to see long term results.