The Role and Benefits of Dance as a Therapy for the Treatment of Mental Illness

Essay by gemmajane25University, Bachelor'sB+, September 2014

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The Role and Benefits of Dance as a Therapy for the Treatment of Mental Illness

This essay will explore the purpose and benefits of dance movement psychotherapy (DMP) in relation to the treatment of mental illnesses. In order to do this, it will look at the history of DMP in particular Marian Chace, who first used dance as a form of therapy for mental health patients. It will also briefly look at the change in treatment for mental health over the past century. The essay will examine the more traditional methods of treating mental illness such as counselling and psychotherapy and how DMP could be just as beneficial to patients. To support dance movement psychotherapy, the essay will study the somatic theory, which considers that there is no distinction between the mind and body and that they work as one. In support of this, the essay will draw upon specific examples of dance therapy in practice for the treatment of mental health such as the Reach4Dance.

Dance has always been used as a means of communication and self-expression, "dance is human thought and feeling expressed through the body" (Hanna 1987), but in 1942, Marian Chace, a dancer and choreographer, really began to explore dance as a means of therapy. Chace was "an original thinker who evolved a theory of clinical practice using basic dance to engage those who were severely disturbed," (Sharon Chaiklin, 1993). To start with, Chace decided that rather than focusing on teaching dance technique, she would change her classes to meet the physical and mental needs of her students. Earlier in life, Chace had an accident, which left her with back injuries. Her doctor had suggested she took dance classes to keep her back mobile, which is when...