Studies show that dance involves extensive areas of the cerebral cortex and several deep brain structures. The latest descriptive systematic review of this therapy included eight studies, all of which showed changes in the brain structure after using dance therapy. Positive changes included areas responsible for memory, motion control and communication between the two hemispheres.
Dance therapy uses movement to strengthen body and mind integration and reduce unwanted symptoms for some psychiatric conditions. In contrast to verbal therapies, dance therapists try to reach an agreement with the patient on an intuitive level, which means that the moving body is both a carrier of therapeutic content and its direct recipient.
As with more traditional forms of psychotherapy, this form of treatment can be used in many different ways – it can combine dance with conversation, it can take place with music or in complete silence. Some therapists dance with their patients, while others prefer to observe them and thus read what their brain has to convey. There is no golden mean – if the therapy involves dance, all methods are effective.
One of the most convincing studies supporting this idea has identified and examined unique sets of motor elements that can cause feelings of happiness, sadness, fear or anger. Exploration of new movements can evoke new feelings and emotions in patients, as well as help to see a greater range of possibilities in difficult situations.
Some new or old movement patterns can evoke suppressed emotional material and help those struggling with mental problems to better understand themselves and their surroundings.
Associations between emotions and individual motor sequences have been used in the past to diagnose or recognize emotions, but modern science goes further looking for newer motor prescriptions for improving mental state.