Healing Powers of Dance/Movement Therapy

September 5, 2019 -

Dance Therapy, also known as Movement Therapy, is a holistic approach to meeting the comprehensive needs of pediatric cancer patients. Through non-verbal expression, the healing powers of dance act as a natural part in a child’s developmental process. After all, kids were born to dance!

Dance/Movement therapy helps to integrate the emotional, mental and physical aspects of individual life through expressive movement. 

Children freely expressing themselves through spontaneous dance is a natural part of childhood. The healing powers of dance are universal in all cultures across history. Dance/movement therapy (DMT) in pediatric oncology is little known and underutilized.

This article discusses DMT, specifically focusing on pediatric oncology. It defines and clarifies the difference between medical DMT as a psychotherapeutic modality aimed at addressing the patient’s psychosocial needs, and dance and therapeutic dance used recreationally to engage patients during their hospital visits. A literature review of DMT with medically ill children in the United States and worldwide is provided. It culminates with a focus on advancements in the field, discussing the future of pediatric medical DMT.

Grounded in a bio-psychosocial perspective, the intrinsically nonverbal and embodied nature of pediatric medical DMT is uniquely positioned to be a strong component of integrative oncology services. The use of DMT to synthesize potentially traumatic aspects of the medical experience is proposed. It ends with a call for research posing the question: Can pediatric medical DMT support the patient to express feelings while in cancer treatment within the context of a psychotherapeutic milieu, enabling the patient to create an embodied coherent narrative that fosters expressivity and empowerment?

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