“Movement Therapy”: Moving Your Body to Heal Your Mind

movement therapy

We all know that physical activities make our bodies fit and healthy. Simple walking, running, and even cleaning the yard are good forms of exercise. However, moving your body is also a great way to take care of your mind. Movement therapy can help you with your mental health. Read on to find out how this interesting form of therapy works.

What Is Movement Therapy?

Dance or Movement therapy is a form of therapy that uses movement to improve mental and physical well-being. It helps people express themselves through their body which leads to emotional, physical, and cognitive integration. This therapy promotes mood management, reducing stress, releasing muscle tension, muscular strength and coordination.  

For thousands of years, dance and movement have been used for healing. Movement therapy takes dancing to another level, though. You communicate your conscious and unconscious feelings. The therapist helps you work on your issues using physical expression instead of words.

Conditions Movement Therapy Can Treat

According to research, movement therapy can be effective in treating particular mental health issues. Here are some of them:

  • Low Self-Esteem 
  • Learning Difficulties
  • Eating Disorders
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder)
  • Substance Abuse
  • Family Conflict/Relationship Problems

Movement therapy is great for those who can’t express themselves verbally and have trouble opening up. It can do what traditional talking therapy can’t.

The Process

When you’re in treatment with a qualified dance therapist, you’re entitled to confidentiality. The therapist provides a safe space for you to freely express yourself. Only then can they start assessing your non-verbal behavior (body language and emotional expressions). Treatment interventions are tailored to address your needs. Interventions may include:

  • Mirroring – matching or echoing a person’s movements to show empathy and validate their feelings.
  • Using a Movement Metaphor – helping a person physically demonstrate a therapeutic challenge or achievement. For example, the therapist gives a white flag to the client to help them celebrate emotional surrender.
  • Jumping Rhythms – research has shown how incorporating jumping rhythms into a dance helped a group of people experiencing depression.

Movement therapy is not only for people who can dance, nor is it a dance class. It doesn’t focus on form, technique, or style. Skill and appearance are not a priority. You are encouraged to share whatever’s happening within you. During a session, you’re not expected to start dancing once the music plays. The therapist will guide you through a variety of movement activities until your body is at ease. You experience several movements first. The therapist will only give you ideas and you’ll lead the movement. You set your own pace.


Just like any other form of psychotherapy, it’s important to seek professional advice first before trying movement therapy. You need to make sure that it’s appropriate for your physical and mental health condition. People with acute injuries and chronic physical or mental conditions need to be careful in choosing a form of movement therapy. Moreover, training and certification the therapy requires varies widely depending on each kind. Many approaches require years of extensive training and experience with a particular movement form. Finding the right type and the right therapist for you are essential.

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Written by Hannah Grace

A B.S. Psychology graduate who fights both real and imaginary shadows every day with music and words.

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