The Center for Eating Disorders Blog

Dance/Movement Therapy for Eating Disorders

“Based on the understanding that the body and mind are interrelated, dance/movement therapy is defined as the psychotherapeutic use of movement to further the emotional, cognitive, physical, and social integration of the individual.” 

– American Dance Therapy Association

Photo courtesy of http://www.bowsart.org/

Dance/Movement Therapy (DMT) is one of several types of expressive therapy provided to patients at the Center for Eating Disorders.  This type of therapy provides patients with the opportunity to use guided movements and dance as a creative, nonverbal outlet for thoughts and feelings that are often masked by their eating disorders.  DMT is also a beneficial tool for helping patients re-establish a healthy connection with their body.

Using carefully monitored movements and breathing techniques, Dance/Movement Therapists help to guide patients in developing body awareness and tolerance. This can be beneficial for individuals with eating disorders because eating disorders, characteristically, interfere with natural body cues such as hunger and satiation.  DMT groups may also utilize props and imagery to assist in the therapeutic process.  Patients are encouraged to challenge body image distortions and address destructive behaviors that are sometimes influenced by media or societal pressure.  DMT encourages the opportunity for patients to welcome and attend to physical and emotional needs, while strengthening their self-esteem and self-worth. 

DMT groups also help patients build trust and safety through group interactions, leading them to reflect on how eating disorders can affect relationship dynamics.  During DMT groups at The Center for Eating Disorders, education is provided about the dangers of compulsive, excessive exercise and how it can be detrimental or counterproductive to successful recovery from an eating disorder.  Patients are guided through DMT to explore healthy activities and behaviors that support their recovery. 

DMT is a specialized form of expressive arts therapy and is practiced by a master’s level therapist.  Dance/movement therapists are educated in foundations of counseling and developmental theory while integrating dance/movement techniques.  As part of the treatment process at the Center for Eating Disorders, DMT aims to treat the whole person and enhance the journey toward healing and recovery.  For more information on the uses and benefits of DMT, visit the American Dance Therapy Association at http://www.adta.org/.  

Written by Erin M. Alfree, MA, ADTR, Dance/Movement Therapist at the Center for Eating Disorders

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