Dance Therapy

What Is Dance Therapy?

Dance therapy is the psychotherapeutic use of movement to promote emotional, social, cognitive, and physical integration. Dance therapy can help people with physical health by increasing strength, improving flexibility, decreasing muscle tension, and boosting coordination. It can also offer important mental health benefits including stress reduction and even symptom relief from conditions such as anxiety and depression.

Dance therapy is a creative art psychotherapy that utilizes movement and dance to support the physical, intellectual, and emotional health of an individual.

 Dance therapy uses movement and nonverbal communication in addition to talk therapy to manage psychological and behavioral concerns that words alone do not address. “It’s about finding the places inside that you might not know or have chosen to deny, and giving a voice to the experiences and emotions.


Dance therapy looks different for everyone depending on a sense of safety, access to the body, and personal familiarity with an authentic expression of the body. The process may range from mostly verbal or speaking to mostly nonverbal or movement.

In a dance therapy session, a therapist may:

  • Help you explore and make meaning on the connection between movement and your emotions.
  • Encourage tracking of bodily sensations and breath
  • Help guide you through self-expressive and improvisational movements
  • Offer specific movement or verbal therapeutic interventions to promote healing
  • Help you process the feelings evoked by the movement


Dance therapists may utilize a technique known as mirroring, which involves copying another person’s movements. It can be a way to help people feel more connected to others and to build empathy.

Dance therapists provide the space for individuals to experience an invitation, a sense of choice, validation, and to tolerate internal sensations. They also offer compassionate and supportive ways to feel a sense of control and autonomy within your body. 

What Dance Therapy Can Help With

Dance therapy can be used to treat a number of physical and mental health issues. It can be helpful for improving self-esteem and can be useful for people who struggle with body image issues. Some conditions that it may help with include:

  • Anxiety
  • Arthritis
  • Chronic pain
  • Communication issues
  • Dementia
  • Depression
  • Disordered eating
  • Low self esteem
  • Body image and eating disorders

Benefits of Dance Therapy

Dance therapy has a number of benefits that can make it a helpful addition to other treatment approaches. Where many treatment modalities, such as , dance therapy incorporates body-based strategies.

Promotes calm

Dance therapy can provide body-based strategies to support down-regulating the system, which allows for an increased sense of calm.


In the treatment of eating disorders, building self-awareness can help people feel more connected to their body's physical signals.

Coping skills

Dance therapy, can also serve as a way to build coping skills to use outside of the therapy setting. "With the support of the therapist, you can use movement and understanding of your movement preferences to explore strengths and signals of stress.

How to Get Started

Working with a trained, board-certified dance therapist can help you focus on both the mind and the body processes as you gain insight and tools for managing daily life.