Dance therapy with individuals surviving brain injuries

Dance/movement therapy in the rehabilitation of individuals surviving severe head injuries. 1985. Cynthia F. Berrol PhD, ADTR, and Stephanie S. Katz ADTR. American Journal of Dance Therapy, 1985, Volume 8, Issue 1, pp 46-66.

Abstract: “Approximately 700,000 individuals are admitted to hospitals annually as a result of severe brain injuries. Of the survivors, upwards of 70,000 suffer pervasive, long-term disruption of all domains of human function and marked alteration of the quality of life. Effective treatment requires a well-orchestrated multidisciplinary team approach. This paper will address rehabilitation issues in relation to dance/movement therapy. First the pathological consequences of neurotrauma will be reviewed. Likewise, basic mechanisms of recovery, treatment principles and special therapeutic considerations will be addressed. Finally, intervention strategies will be discussed within the context of both group and individual settings and illustrated via case studies.”


Dance therapy group effects on stress management & stress reduction

Dance movement therapy group intervention in stress treatment: A randomized controlled trial (RCT). 2012. Iris Bräuninger. The Arts in Psychotherapy Volume 39, Issue 5, November 2012, Pages 443–450.

“This randomized controlled trial compares the effect of a dance movement therapy (DMT) group intervention on stress management improvement and stress reduction with a wait-listed control group (WG). 162 self-selected clients suffering from stress were randomly assigned to a WG or a DMT intervention that received 10 group therapy sessions. Stress management [Stressverarbeitungsfragebogen/SVF 120], psychopathology and overall distress (Brief Symptom Inventory/BSI) were evaluated at baseline (t1: pre-test), immediately after completion of the ten sessions DMT group intervention (t2: post-test), and 6 months after the DMT treatment (t3: follow-up test). Analysis of variance was calculated to evaluate the between-group (time × condition) and within-group (time) effect of the DMT intervention. Negative stress management strategies decreased significantly in the short-term at t2 (p < .005) and long-term at t3 (p < .05), Positive Strategy Distraction improved significantly in the short-term (p < .10), as well as Relaxation (p < .10). Significant short-term improvements were observed in the BSI psychological distress scales Obsessive-Compulsive (p < .05), Interpersonal Sensitivity (p < .10), Depression (p < .05), Anxiety (p < .005), Phobic Anxiety (p < .01), Psychoticism (p < .05), and in Positive Symptom Distress (p < .02). Significant long-term improvement in psychological distress through DMT existed in Interpersonal Sensitivity (p < .05), Depression (p < .000), Phobic Anxiety (p < .05), Paranoid Thinking (p < .005), Psychoticism (p < .05), and Global Severity Index (p < .01). Results indicate that DMT group treatment is more effective to improve stress management and reduce psychological distress than non-treatment. DMT effects last over time.”

“Keywords: Dance movement therapy (DMT) research; Stress management and stress reduction; Randomized controlled trial (RCT); Treatment effectiveness; Group therapy”

Meta-analysis: Effects of dance movement therapy & dance on health-related psychological outcomes

Effects of Dance Movement Therapy and Dance on Health-Related Psychological Outcomes: A Meta-Analysis. 2014. Sabine Koch, Teresa Kunz, Sissy Lykou, & Robyn Cruz. The Arts in Psychotherapy Volume 41, Issue 1, February 2014, Pages 46-64. *Article does not have free open access.


Abstract: “In this meta-analysis, we evaluated the effectiveness of dance movement therapy1 (DMT) and the therapeutic use of dance for the treatment of health-related psychological problems. Research in the field of DMT is growing, and 17 years have passed since the last and only general meta-analysis on DMT (Ritter & Low, 1996) was conducted. This study examines the current state of knowledge regarding the effectiveness of DMT and dance from 23 primary trials (N = 1078) on the variables of quality of life, body image, well-being, and clinical outcomes, with sub-analysis of depression, anxiety, and interpersonal competence. Results suggest that DMT and dance are effective for increasing quality of life and decreasing clinical symptoms such as depression and anxiety. Positive effects were also found on the increase of subjective well-being, positive mood, affect, and body image. Effects for interpersonal competence were encouraging, but due to the heterogenity of the data remained inconclusive. Methodological shortcomings of many primary studies limit these encouraging results and, therefore, further investigations to strengthen and expand upon evidence-based research in DMT are necessary. Implications of the findings for health care, research, and practice are discussed.”
“1: This term includes the practice of dance movement psychotherapy (UK) and dance/movement therapy (USA).”


“Keywords: Dance movement therapy; Therapeutic use of dance; Meta-analysis; Review of evidence-based research; Randomized controlled trials; Integrative medicine.”

Well-being and dance movement therapy interventions (including dance improvisation)

Specific dance movement therapy interventions – which are successful? An intervention and correlation study.
Iris Bräuninger. The Arts in Psychotherapy, Available online 19 August 2014, In Press, Accepted Manuscript. *Article does not have free open access.


•Specific DMT [Dance Movement Therapy] interventions could be identified that relate to the improvement of well-being.
•Dance Improvisation, Spatial and Effort Synchrony, and working with a Focus were effective individual DMT interventions.
•Improvement of QOL [Quality of Life], coping, stress with Psychodynamic, Chace DMT, directive-non-directive Leading and Interpersonal Closure.
•A small number of specific DMT interventions should be used cautiously until further research proves their effectiveness.
•970 intervention checklists on individual and 120 on group DMT interventions were analyzed.”

Abstract: “This intervention study examines the correlation between specific DMT interventions and the improvement in quality of life, stress management, and stress reduction. Dance therapists (N = 11) filled out 970x Intervention Checklist 1 (specific interventions at the individual level) and 120x Intervention Checklist 2 (specific interventions at the group level) while leading 10 sessions. Individual level therapists’ scoring of the Intervention Checklists were correlated with individual level clients’ scoring from the standardized questionnaires of the treatment group (n= 97). Therapists worked successfully when applying a self-selected approach and mixing in-depth DMT approaches and specific interventions. The findings show that a relationship exists between clients’ improvement in Quality of Life, coping, reduction of Stress and the use of Psychodynamic-oriented DMT, Chace approach, a combination of a Directive/Non-Directive Leadership Style, and an Interpersonal Closure. Clients’ Daily Life improved and Somatization symptoms decreased when Dance Improvisation, Spatial Synchrony, Synchrony in Efforts and working with a Focus were used. Results indicate that specific DMT interventions could be identified that relate to the improvement of well-being while some single DMT interventions should be used cautiously until further research proves their effectiveness. There is a continuing need to identify successful specific DMT interventions in future studies.”

Review of dance therapy for schizophrenia

Dance therapy for schizophrenia. 2013. Juanjuan Ren, Jun Xia. Editorial Group: Cochrane Schizophrenia Group. Published Online: 4 OCT 2013; Assessed as up-to-date: 10 JUL 2012.


Plain Language Summary written by Ben Gray:

“The first line of treatment of schizophrenia is usually antipsychotic drugs. Usually, these drugs are more effective in treating the ‘positive symptoms’ than ‘negative symptoms’ of schizophrenia. Moreover, antipsychotic drugs have debilitating side-effects such as weight gain, shaking, tremors and muscle stiffness.

“Dance therapy (also known as dance movement therapy, DMT) uses movement and dance to explore a person’s emotions in a non-verbal way (without language or words). The therapist helps the individual to interpret their dance and movement and link them with people’s personal feelings. Dance has been used as a healing ritual since earliest human history, but the establishment of dance therapy as a profession is quite recent. Dance therapy can be used with people of all ages, races and genders. It can be effective in the treatment of people with medical, social, developmental, physical and psychological impairments. The review included one study with 45 participants. The aim was to compare dance therapy with standard care or other interventions. The one included study compared dance therapy plus routine care with routine care alone. In the main, there was no difference between those who engaged in dance therapy versus those who did not (for outcomes such as satisfaction with care, mental state, leaving the study early, quality of life). However, those who engaged in dance therapy showed significant improvement in negative symptoms. 

“Overall, because of the small number of participants, the findings are limited. There is little evidence to support or refute the use of dance therapy. Larger studies and trials are needed that focus on important outcomes (such as rates of relapse, quality of life, admission to hospital, leaving the study early, cost of care and satisfaction with treatment). Further research would help clarify whether dance therapy is an effective and holistic treatment for people with schizophrenia, especially in terms of helping people cope with negative symptoms that do not respond so well to antipsychotic drugs.

“This summary was written by a consumer Ben Gray (Benjamin Gray, Service User and Service User Expert Rethink Mental Illness,”

Effects of dance-movement therapy: meta-analysis

Effects of Dance/Movement Therapy: A Meta-Analysis. Meredith Ritter, BA, Kathryn Graff Low, PhD. (1996). The Arts in Psychotherapy Volume 23, Issue 3, 1996, Pages 249–260. *There is not free public access.

“The present study addresses methodological problems that have affected the DMT [dance/movement therapy] literature and evaluates quantitative studies of DMT using meta-analytic techniques. […] The purpose of the present study was to calculate standardized effect sizes for case-control studies of dance/movement therapy and to produce summary statistics reflecting the average change associated with DMT compared to controls. The study also examined the effectiveness of DMT in different samples (e.g. children, psychiatric patients, elderly) and for varying diagnoses (anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, developmental disabilities) using meta-analysis.”