Dancing is not only fun and enjoyable; engaging in this type of physical activity also has plenty of health and social benefits for everyone.
As a form of creative art therapy, Dance Movement Therapy (DMT) can help reduce anxiety, help someone become more mobile, build self-confidence and create social connections.
And unlike an ordinary dance class where the main focus is purely on motor skills and choreographed steps, DMT is generally more tailored to individual needs. DMT helps support people with disability to express their emotions through their bodies. It also helps participants to:
- Discover a connection between body and mind through creative movement
- Ground the body through breathing
- Understand themselves better and increase feelings of wellbeing and self-worth
- Provide an opportunity to enhance imagination and creativity
- Practise relating to others
- Improve communication, body language and interpretation of others’ body language
- Develop improved coordination and motor skills
NDSP Plan Managers chatted with Creative Therapy Adelaide to learn more about their Dance Movement Therapy program.
What can a participant expect when they engage in Creative Therapy Adelaide’s DMT program?
The session starts with a body warm-up, focusing on the breath and moving various parts of the body. Sometimes music is used in the sessions while sometimes the focus is only on how the body moves without the influence of music.
The participant may create simple movements on their own and/or with the therapist. They may work on choreography or move freely depending on their goals. Often, the Dance Movement Therapy session will end with a breathing or a calming exercise of their choice.
The goal of practising and trying these movements within a supported therapeutic space is so that they have more resources to draw on outside of therapy. For example, when they are at home and are needing strategies to relax or regulate, they may practise movement and breathing strategies learnt in DMT.
In sessions with children, they not only dance, but they also play at the same time. Play involves fundamental movement skills and it helps them to coordinate their body. Play allows children to take risks, learn about turn-taking and most importantly how to relate to others.
What are some of the examples where a participant benefitted from DMT?
- An autistic child accessed DMT on parent referral. He first started to explore his sensory needs and over the first eight sessions, would usually engage in play for five minutes out of a 45-minute session. By session 20 (over five months), he was able to play for 20 minutes. At around session 40, he was able to play for the full 45-minute session. He was able to create a game, movements and allow his therapist to be in the same space with him. As his play time got longer, his focus visibly increased and his imagination started to flourish. The stories of his creations also became coherent throughout the therapy sessions. His strengths were discovered in the process of engaging with the therapist through creative movement and the parents were supported and coached to provide similar opportunities for play in his home environment.
- A teenage girl with an ADHD diagnosis was referred for DMT to support her wellbeing and reduce anxiety. She used the DMT space for her creative expressions through dancing, movements and drawing. She was supported to focus on fewer movements and maintain focus to create a simple story in the space. She tended to move a lot between different activities, however this supported her to regulate herself and express her thoughts. Her creativity was acknowledged as her strength and she built strategies for self regulation through being able to explore this in a supported therapeutic environment.
- An autistic child with Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA) profile developed a story about his father whom he had lost touch with. He used the puppets in the therapy room to characterise them as him, his sister and his father. He expressed his sense of loss through imaginary play. His frustrations and anger were acknowledged by the therapist and embodied them safely. His energy needed to be exhausted and he was able to use the DMT space to do so. He was supported to calm down after the energetic movements.
About the Organisation: Creative Therapy Adelaide offers creative art therapy programs (music, dance and drama) to people of all ages. They provide clinical, evidence-based therapies for participants to work towards their goals while having fun.
All their therapists are registered with the The Australian Music Therapy Association (AMTA) or the Australian, New Zealand and Asian Creative Arts Therapies Association (ANZACATA). Learn more by visiting their website: creativetherapyadelaide.com.au.
If you are an NDIS participant, did you know that you can use your NDIS plan to help fund your Dance Movement Therapy (DMT) sessions?
DMT can be accessed using a participant’s Capacity Building budget.
- Line item number: 15_005_0118_1_3 Capacity Building For Early Childhood Interventions – Other Professional or
- Line Item number: 15_610_0128_1_3 Assessment Recommendation Therapy or Training – Art Therapist
If you have questions about your NDIS plan, contact us via email at email@example.com or call us at 1800 820 418.