Dance Movement Psychotherapy (DMP) recognises body movement as an implicit and expressive instrument of communication and expression. DMP is a relational process in which client/s and therapist engage in an empathic creative process using body movement and dance to assist integration of emotional, cognitive, physical, social and spiritual aspects of self. DMP is practiced as individual and group therapy in settings such as health, education, social services and in private practice. The profession is continually informed by research and by initiatives and projects that open up and extend the field of DMP practice.
Dance has been fundamental to human life and culture since the time of our earliest ancestors; a form of self-expression, communication and celebration of life and community. However, by the turn of the 20th century, the potential for dance to promote healthy growth and change was also recognised. This recognition came with the development of more expressive and improvisational forms of dance popular at that time, as well as the acceptance of the integral relationship between mind and body. Dance movement therapy emerged as a profession in the US in the 1960s. By the 1970s it had reached Australia and is now an established profession.
We found no evidence for an effect of dance/movement therapy on depression (standardized mean difference (SMD) = , 95% confidence interval ( CI ) - to , P = , I 2 = 0%) (two studies, N = 170), stress (SMD = -, 95% CI - to , P = , I 2 = 0%) (two studies, N = 170), anxiety (SMD = , 95% CI - to P = , I 2 = 0%) (two studies, N = 170), fatigue (SMD = -, 95% - to , P = , I² = 80%) (two studies, N = 170) and body image (SMD = -, 95% CI - to , P = , I 2 = 0%) (two studies, N = 68) in women with breast cancer. The data of one study with moderate risk of bias suggested that dance/movement therapy had a large beneficial effect on 37 participants' quality of life (QoL) (SMD = , 95% CI to ). One study with a high risk of bias reported greater improvements in vigor and greater reduction in somatization in the dance/movement therapy group compared to a standard care control group (N = 31). The individual studies did not find support for an effect of dance/movement therapy on mood, mental health, and pain. It is unclear whether this was due to ineffectiveness of the treatment, inappropriate outcome measures or limited power of the trials. Finally, the results of one study did not find evidence for an effect of dance/movement therapy on shoulder range of motion (ROM) or arm circumference in 37 women who underwent a lumpectomy or breast surgery. However, this was likely due to large within-group variability for shoulder ROM and a limited number of participants with lymphedema.