Article by Aïka Mathelier, MSW. 2022.

“Dance therapy is a form of psychotherapy that focuses on the use of movement as the medium of change” (Chaiklin, 1975: 701). It contemplates the psycho-dynamic relationship to movement, to dance, and the transformation of the self. Dance Movement Therapy is not about performance, skill, or beauty. It is about a personal connection, and an understanding of the bidirectional mind-body and body-mind connection, it is about the appreciation of a different way of expressing emotions, thoughts, feelings, conflicts. Dance Movement Therapy can also be about exploring strength and regaining control of what was lost through a movement expression.

“Movement change and psychological change are integrally connected. Cognition and intellectual awareness are […] necessary for change. In dance therapy, the body and its movement are the prime tools that work toward that awareness and the unity of self” (Chaiklin, 1975: 703).

As one goes through the dance movement therapy process, they begin by finding a way to ground themselves, be present in the here and now. The starting point to a dance movement therapy session being the warm-up, it allows one to [re]center oneself, be attune with what is happening in one’s body prior to taking in what would be happening in one’s surroundings. The relationship with oneself impacts the relationship with our environment, likewise the environment impacts our perception of self.

Through Dance Movement Therapy we recognize the importance of movement in our lives. We acknowledge that through breath we move and interact with our surroundings; movement is our first connection with ourselves and with our environment. Additionally, we welcome a central connection to our body prior to engaging with others. Dance and movement can lead to powerful experiences and significant growth within the relationship we have with ourselves, which will then transform one’s external relationships. Dance Movement Therapy is not limiting, on the contrary, it is a physical, but also a psychological, emotional, and/or verbal endeavor. It considers all that has to do with existing in order to foster change, transformation, and healing.



Aïka Mathelier, MSW. 2022.