Dancing. Everyone feels differently about it. Some love it. Some find it absolutely terrifying. But before deciding how you feel about it, learn how Dance Movement Therapy for stroke recovery can work for you. *Dancing skills not required*
What is Dance Movement Therapy?
There’s a type of psychotherapy called Dance Movement Therapy (DMT) that uses movement to help patients deal with emotional, cognitive, and physical challenges. DMT can be especially beneficial to stroke survivors because it helps alleviate the depression and anxiety that often accompanies life-threatening illnesses.
The Many Benefits of Dance Movement Therapy
On a physical level, DMT can help improve coordination, movement, and muscle tone while enhancing thinking skills, motivation, and memory on a cognitive level. If that doesn’t sound perfect enough, Dance Movement Therapy can also help participants feel more joyful and confident – and that’s just as important! Stroke survivors can experience relief, even it it’s just temporary, from negative emotions and feel more motivated towards recovery.
Freedom Never Felt So Good
To perform Dance Movement Therapy, all you have to do is… move. You don’t have to be a good dancer or even have rhythm. You just need to move. Try it. Do what feels good. Wiggle your body, wiggle your limbs. Sway side to side on your feet or in a chair. Close your eyes. Get lost in it. And soon you’ll find that you’re more in touch with your body, mind, and spirit. You’ll find a way to express yourself in a truly authentic way that just feels good!
The Story That Touched Our Heart
Dance Movement Therapy doesn’t always have to be practiced on land. In fact, DMT assisted by a therapist or caretaker in a pool is great for stroke survivors because the decrease in weight allows you to move your affected limbs more easily. Here’s a story that Ande Welling, a dance movement therapist, shared through the American Dance Therapy Association that simply touched our heart:
“With another woman, we use water to find increased mobility. On land, gravity wins, the hemi-paresis and blindness keep her in an anatomical prison. In the water her whole body is lighter… and she finds freedom and laughter as she swims, walks, jumps, and falls. In the water, the fear of falling is diminished… and for a few sweet minutes, she can let go… Sometimes, her mood shifts, the hopelessness of being bound in a body that refuses to do what it used to, is temporarily suspended. This also triggers a release of grief, the waves of sadness for what once was, flow freely. All responses seem beneficial – the shift in mood, which typically allows her to find motivation to engage in additional therapeutic activities, or the space to grieve and let go while being supported by myself and the water, she says ‘I feel like a person again, even for just a minute.’”
This story shows just how powerful Dance Movement Therapy can be in stroke rehabilitation therapy. Stroke survivors can experience freedom within their bodies, even if it’s just for a minute, and that’s a precious gift. We encourage you to try it for yourself, even if all you do is sway your head side to side.