Dance Movement Therapy for Chronic Pain

Chronic Pain may benefit from body awareness and movement based therapies

Chronic pain is now classified by the World Health Organization as a health condition in its own right. This recognises the condition’s close links with significant emotional distress. It also acknowledges it’s interference with the activities of daily life and participation in social roles .

Dance Movement Therapy

A recently published study suggests that mindfulness based Dance Movement Therapy (DMT)* is a promising therapy approach for people living with chronic pain.

Chronic pain is a body-based condition. Therefore, there may be value in a body–mind intervention. The core components of DMT are somatic awareness and kinesthetic empathy. In addition, DMT is holistic and creative.

DMT is defined as “the therapeutic use of movement to further the emotional, cognitive, physical, spiritual, and social integration of the individual.” In other words, it features movement as creative self-expression and dance as non-verbal interaction. Significantly, there is growing evidence about the positive impact of this form of psychotherapy. In particular, it may have a positive impact on the psychological states of patients with somatic concerns.

A safe therapeutic environment is a key element in all therapy. The creative process underpins all DMT. In addition, the approach includes mindfulness skills and body awareness. That is to say, the process may include relaxation/releasing; distancing and staying with discomfort; meaning making; self regulation; acceptance and integration. Moreover, dance and movement provide a means for self-expression. This allows participants to communicate concerns which they might not be able to express verbally.

Read the full study here

*in the UK the profession is Dance Movement Psychotherapy (DMP)

Majore-Dusele Indra, Karkou Vicky, Millere Inga
The Development of Mindful-Based Dance Movement Therapy Intervention for Chronic Pain: A Pilot Study With Chronic Headache Patients
Frontiers in Psychology VOLUME=12 2021