The joy dance: Specific effects of a single dance intervention on psychiatric patients with depression. Sabine C. Koch, Katharina Morlinghaus, Thomas Fuchs. (2007). The Arts in Psychotherapy Volume 34, Issue 4, Pages 340–349.
Abstract: “This study investigated the specific effects of a dance intervention on the decrease of depression and the increase of vitality and positive affect in 31 psychiatric patients with main or additional diagnosis of depression. Patients participated in one of three conditions: a dance group performing a traditional upbeat circle dance, a group that listened just to the music of the dance (music only), and a group that moved on a home trainer bike (ergometer) up to the same level of arousal as the dance group (movement only). While all three conditions alleviated or stabilized the condition of the patients, results suggest that patients in the dance group profited most from the intervention. They showed significantly less depression than participants in the music group (p < .001) and in the ergometer group (p < .05), and more vitality (p < .05) than participants in the music group on post-test self-report scales immediately after the intervention. Stimulating circle dances can thus have a positive effect on patients with depression and may be recommended for use in dance/movement therapy and other complementary therapies.”
The Value of Arts and Culture to People and Society: an evidence review. Arts Council England. (2014).
The report references other reports, including:
“The [Consilium] report (2013) concluded that the use of art, when delivered effectively, has the power to both facilitate social interaction and enable those in receipt of social care to pursue creative interests. The review highlights the benefits of dance for reducing loneliness and alleviating depression and anxiety among people in social care environments. Dance has the ability to promote creativity and social integration and allow nonverbal stimulation and communication. The review evidence demonstrates the considerable physical and psychological benefits of using arts with people in receipt of social care.” (page 26)
“In 2011 BUPA published the Keep Dancing report which highlighted a number of issues relating to old people and exercise, and identified the key benefits of dance. Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance (TLCMD) published a literature review on the impact of dance on health and wellbeing in older people, also in 2011, called Dancing towards wellbeing in the Third Age.
“TLCMD’s literature review (2011) makes a distinction between dance therapy (a psychotherapeutic activity focusing more on therapeutic than artistic outcomes) and dance interventions and focuses on studies looking at dance interventions. They acknowledge that this boundary is sometimes blurred and included some therapy-weighted studies that are relevant to a dance and health research context.
“The reports from BUPA and TLCMD shared key findings relating to the physical and psychological benefits of dance. Many featured studies focused on activities that were specific to particular conditions such as arthritis, Parkinson’s, dementia and depression. The benefits of dance in relation to the prevention of falls were also evidenced (BUPA, 2011). Alongside evidenced benefits related to particular conditions, overall physical improvements include increased cardio vascular, strength and flexibility and improved balance and gait. These physical benefits vary depending on the individual participant and style of dance undertaken.
“Evidenced psychological benefits include quicker reaction times and cognitive performance”… “The physical benefits when contrasted with sports or other exercises are bolstered by the social and creative aspects which can enhance overall wellbeing. Dance activities create a sense of community and can help counter feelings of isolation. ” (page 29)
“Dance is a key component of many cultures and traditional dance activities can present a more relevant choice of activity for individuals in particular communities. Both reports reference pieces of research that highlight the value of culturally specific dance.” (page 30)
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.”
An Evaluation of Dancing Inside: A creative workshop project led by Motionhouse Dance Theatre in HMP Dovegate Therapeutic Community. Brown, J., Burchnall, K., & Houston, S. (2004). Forensic Psychology Research Unit, University of Surrey, England.
“The present study examines year two of the Dancing Inside project. […] The findings reveal that the use of dance in a prison TC [Therapeutic Community] can facilitate emotional awareness and expression, encourage new ways of thinking, and help participants to discover an emerging sense of a new self. This has a significant contribution to the ‘process of change’ for each participant, as it aids self-disclosure, increases willingness to talk about themselves, their experiences and their offending behaviour. There was evidence of the short term impact experienced after the workshop. There is further evidence to support the longer term sustainability of change.
“A note of caution however needs to be struck when considering the generalisability of our findings. […] Thus the report evaluates the particularities of the conjunction of the Dovegate TC [Therapeutic Community], Motionhouse [Dance Theatre] and [the facilitator] rather than attempts to consider the role of Dance in prison more generally.”
Fixing the mirrors: A feasibility study of the effects of dance movement therapy on young adults with autism spectrum disorder. Sabine C Koch, Laura Mehl, Esther Sobanski, Maik Sieber, Thomas Fuchs. (2014). Autism . 02/2014 (E-pub ahead of print).
ABSTRACT: “From the 1970s on, case studies reported the effectiveness of therapeutic mirroring in movement with children with autism spectrum disorder. In this feasibility study, we tested a dance movement therapy intervention based on mirroring in movement in a population of 31 young adults with autism spectrum disorder (mainly high-functioning and Asperger’s syndrome) with the aim to increase body awareness, social skills, self-other distinction, empathy, and well-being. […] After the treatment, participants in the intervention group reported improved well-being, improved body awareness, improved self-other distinction, and increased social skills. The dance movement therapy-based mirroring approach seemed to address more primary developmental aspects of autism than the presently prevailing theory-of-mind approach. Results suggest that dance movement therapy can be an effective and feasible therapy approach for autism spectrum disorder, while future randomized control trials with bigger samples are needed.”
“Keywords: autism spectrum disorder, embodiment, dance movement therapy, mirroring, clinical controlled trial, treatment manual, intersubjectivity, social competence, empathy, well-being, self-other distinction, body awareness”
Expressive arts therapies: Working with survivors of torture. Amber Elizabeth Lynn Gray. (2011). Torture Journal (Journal on Rehabilitation of Torture Victims and Prevention of Torture) Volume 21, No. 1, 2011, pages 39-47.
Excerpt from the article: “Dance/Movement Therapy (“DMT”) is both a somatic and an expressive arts therapy. A primary theoretical underpinning of this psychotherapeutic practice is that movement is a primary language for all human beings and, as such, is a powerful means to access implicit memory and stored history, trauma-related or not. From a developmental perspective, DMT acknowledges the non-verbal roots of all human language, communication, and experience, and therefore may be particularly suited to work with survivors of torture who have literally experienced the unspeakable directly to their bodies. Dance may be considered the creative or expressive aspect of movement, and for many cultures where the creative process is included in ritual, healing and daily life, DMT may be more appropriate than conventional talk therapy. The non-verbal and pre-verbal nature of trauma also supports the use of this modality.” (pages 42-43)