Description: If you were experiencing anxiety or struggling with trauma would dancing be good for you? If you first thought is, “well it might be a distraction but other than that….” You might benefit from a look at and some reflection upon research that looks directly at this question. If you know something about the sub-cortical systems that drive our stress responses (check out the information videos on stress on this website!), then you may already have a sense that for some things that challenge us thinking and talking about it may not be enough and certainly are not the only ways to take up challenges arising from stress and anxiety. To prime your thinking about this, consider that lifestyles in recent years have become increasingly sedentary and this is rather counter to how we are evolutionarily built. You may have also run across research pointing to the mental health benefits of exercise. As well you may have run across research or discussions of how young children are less able to talk about their anxieties and stressor and more likely to experience then somatically (e.g., anxiety over school challenges presents as a morning tummy ache). So, think a bit about what dance or movement therapy might involve and what benefits it might provide and then ready the article linked below to see what research is suggesting.
Source: Dance and movement therapy holds promise for treating anxiety and depression, as well as deeper psychological wounds, Lana Ruvolo Grasser, The Conversation.
Date: September 3, 2021
So, are you going start to look for opportunities to move, dance and create the next time you are feeling tressed and anxious? The research (see links below to read further) suggests dance and movement reduces perceived stress, lowers bodily inflammation, and contributes to cognitive flexibility and self-direction. Great payoffs for a bit a creative movement or dancing. Give it a try!
Questions for Discussion:
- Why might dance or movement therapy have a positive impact on anxiety and trauma?
- Why might active therapies such a movement therapy be more effective with children than other, more cognitive approaches??
- How do you see movement therapies potnetially fitting in or being strategically employed around other approaches to treating anxiety and trauma in adults?
References (Read Further):
Gleeson, M., Bishop, N. C., Stensel, D. J., Lindley, M. R., Mastana, S. S., & Nimmo, M. A. (2011). The anti-inflammatory effects of exercise: mechanisms and implications for the prevention and treatment of disease. Nature reviews immunology, 11(9), 607-615.
Bräuninger, I. (2014). Specific dance movement therapy interventions—Which are successful? An intervention and correlation study. The Arts in Psychotherapy, 41(5), 445-457. Link
Van der Kolk, B. A., Hopper, J. W., & Osterman, J. E. (2001). Exploring the nature of traumatic memory: Combining clinical knowledge with laboratory methods. Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment & Trauma, 4(2), 9-31. Link
Child Mind Institute (2021) 2018Children’s Mental Health Report Link
Dieterich-Hartwell, R. (2017). Dance/movement therapy in the treatment of post traumatic stress: A reference model. The arts in psychotherapy, 54, 38-46. Link