Dance therapy is the therapeutic use of movement to improve the mental and physical well-being of a person. It focuses on the connection between the mind and body to promote health and healing. Dance therapy can be considered an expressive therapy.
Dance therapy is offered as a health promotion service for healthy people and a complementary method of reducing stress for people with chronic illnesses. Physically, dance therapy can provide exercise, improve mobility and muscle coordination, and reduce muscle tension. Emotionally, dance therapy is reported to improve self awareness, self confidence, and interpersonal interaction. It is also an outlet for communicating feelings. Some promoters claim that dance therapy may strengthen the immune system through muscular action and physiological processes, and even help to prevent disease.
Dance therapy is based on the belief that the mind and body work together. It is thought that by engaging in dance people can identify and express their innermost emotions, bringing those feelings to the surface. Some people claim this can create a sense of renewal, unity and completeness.
Dance has been an important part of self-expression, ceremonial and religious events, and health in most cultures throughout history. For example, medicine men and women of many Native American tribes used dance as part of their healing rituals.