Sick of trying your sweet moves out in the shower, wasting all that showmanship for nothing? Love music but can’t seem to keep rhythm? Feeling down since you can’t go out dancing during the quarantine? Dance therapy may be for you! (Maybe…)

Have you ever heard of dance/movement therapy? Well, neither had I, until my friend suggested I try it out on the podcast I’m a part of for a week! Our podcast (listen here), is called Better Off Better, and it started with me and my two best friends entering into a verbal agreement that affected my life from then on. We do weekly challenges to test out things that people everywhere seem to think make them better people. Now, we know we aren’t great people, so why not try and fix that though very competitive challenges where we purposely pit ourselves against each other? Doesn’t that sound healthy?

I wasn’t too excited about trying this strange form of therapy out, but if we were going to accept this week long challenge, I was going to try to win! I put on some yoga pants, turned up the music, and tried my best to not think about how silly I looked. Here’s how it went, and why you should give dance therapy a try too!

First, lets talk about what it is. Dance/movement therapy in the United States is the “psychotherapeutic use of movement and dance to support the intellectual, emotional, and motor functions of the body. As a form of expressive therapy, it looks at the correlation between movement and emotion”. This form of “therapy” doesn’t limit itself to just busting moves like you’re out on the dance floor. It can range from more yoga-like movements to all out jamming in your bedroom with the shades closed (tightly).

Okay, But What Does It Do?

I know, I know, it seems like an odd thing to try. A night of dancing at the club is very different from jamming alone in your pjs, but here’s a list of ways dance therapy is supposed to make your life better, and my thoughts on them.

1: Decrease depression

Now, right off the bat, I think this is a bit extreme. I read on a lot of dance therapy websites (my search history is going to have to be deleted now…) and I found that a lot of them claimed that dance therapy helped decrease and even “cure” depression. So I’ll say this one clearly: Dancing will not help cure a mental illness, and if you struggle with depression, you should look into medical options.

That being said, dancing may very well help some people suffering from depression feel a little joy and have a positive effect on those struggling with depression, and if that’s the case, by all means, dance your heart out! I however, didn’t feel any significant sustained change in my mental state or mood. I did think the dancing was fairly enjoyable during and a good little bit of exercise after sitting in front of my computer all day.

So although it didn’t help me kick any sadness permanently, it was definitely a good little midday mood booster, and it was fun to have a slot carved out in my day to feel silly and jump around. I just think it would be helpful for these sources to state their results a bit more clearly next time!

2: Decrease Childhood Obesity

Again, this seems a bit crazy to me. Sure dancing can help reduce the chance of childhood obesity, but that’s just because dancing is exercise. I feel like they’re stretching this one a little bit, but I guess it’s somewhat accurate. I mean, if putting some music on helps kids exercise then far be it from me to stop that, but saying that dance therapy alone is going to greatly reduce those numbers seems a bit far-fetched in my opinion!

Dancing is good exercise, and can help with burning some extra calories throughout the day, but it shouldn’t be solely relied on to battle obesity. I feel like it’s crazy that I have to say that, but some of these websites try to make dance therapy seem like a magic cure to everything!

3: Improve Your Body Image and Self Esteem

Okay, this one is a bit more plausible to me. As someone who struggles heavily with body image and self esteem, I can see how dance therapy can help a bit with this. Again, it’s definitely not a cure, but I can say I felt pretty good while doing this week’s challenge. Dancing is a feel good activity and just knowing your exercising is a quick boost in mood.

I did genuinely feel good during my daily dancing, and although I definitely looked stupid, I feel like this is something that could help you let go and feel a bit better about yourself. It works at the club so why not at home? (Minus the fact that alcohol is usually involved at the club…)

5: Reduces Anger and Violence

Again, a bit far fetched, but I can get behind this one. I think dancing could possibly provide a great outlet to people with anger issues. Dancing can be expressive and meaningful, and although I didn’t feel any change in anger or mood issues this week doesn’t mean someone else may not benefit from dance therapy in that way.

I think getting some pent up energy out in a healthy way could be a great way to curb some anger and release some tension from those who need it, and I see nothing wrong with using dance therapy as a technique for that if it works for you!

6: Be A “Possible Treatment” For Autism

Again, these websites really need to work on how they word things, but this one is actually pretty interesting. There are a few studies that back this one, and dance therapy could be a really interesting option for those on the autism spectrum. Dance/movement therapy has shown to be beneficial for those on the autism spectrum by easing some anxiety in individuals and helping with expressing feelings.

Techniques such as mirroring used in dance/movement therapy have proven to be successful in assisting those on the spectrum with communication. I’d encourage you to look into it whether or not you are or know someone on the autism spectrum, because it’s some cool information either way.

7: Help With Dementia

Like I mentioned in the article about daily reading, keeping active and moving keeps your brain engaged. Keeping an engaged brain and stimulating different processes has been shown to help with a variety of illnesses like dementia and Alzheimers.

Dance therapy has shown to help the ability to recall memories in dementia patients as well. I suspect this is due to remembering steps or music? Interesting to say the least!

8: Treating Cancer

Are. You. Kidding. Me?

No. Dancing will NOT treat cancer. No way. Maybe if they had said “dancing could help ease some of the joint pains associated with certain cancers by staying active” I could’ve bought it. This website just said it could help treat cancer and provided no statistics, no evidence, and no reasons. If this were the case, I’m sure more people would be recommended dancing as a cancer cure, but unfortunately, I really don’t think this is a possibility and it’s really irresponsible for people to be trying to spread that information! I’m just going to move on to the next point because this is obviously a terrible thing to state.

So, clearly the creators and advocates of this weird form of therapy claimed some things that are probably (almost definitely) not true. Does this mean you should toss the idea all together? No! Just don’t get your hopes sky high and assume that dancing can fix all sorts of chronic diseases. Focus on it as a mood booster, and a bit of exercise, not an end all be all cure.

That being said, I have to say that I enjoyed dancing around for a week, and although I refuse to believe I’m the only one putting on concerts in my shower, I think everyone could use a bit more dancing in their lives either way. So give a form of dance therapy a try and let me know how it went for you!

As always, thank you for reading, and be sure to:

Check out our list of more positive outcomes from dancing daily here!

Check out our podcast Better Off Better to hear us struggle with trying dance therapy

Check out the author of this post Jenny Whipple

Check out our Youtube channel for video podcasts and other comedy stuff