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Using Movement to Heal

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In the world of psychology and mental health, there is an abundance of ways to treat various disorders since every individual has their own specific needs and unique ways of healing. We’ve previously discussed how group therapy can be highly beneficial to many – primarily for the social aspects that allow for great community and support. Dance/movement therapy (DMT) is defined by the American Dance Therapy Association (ADTA) as the psychotherapeutic use of movement to promote emotional, social, cognitive, and physical integration of the individual, for the purpose of improving health and well-being. Movement can be functional, communicative, developmental, and expressive. Movement can be utilized to work through an array of mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, and PTSD. Dr. Messina & Associates in Southlake, TX is now providing their own variety of group movement therapy that focuses on building social and emotional skills through different mind and body practices. Today we are going to go in depth and discuss everything that this therapy entails and the benefits that can be obtained through trying this out for yourself.

What is Group Movement Therapy?

There are different styles of movement therapy, though most focus on the aspect of dancing more than anything else. Through dance/movement therapy, several studies that have been conducted have found that regularly practicing this can work very effectively in treating a number of disorders. Therapies like CBT are generally the first approach when it comes to conditions like depression and anxiety, and while this style of mind-centered therapy is highly valuable to a lot of individuals, plenty others respond better to approaches that integrate the body. Therapists that are trained in this style of therapy guide the sessions and observe the nonverbal cues that are presented through these encounters and assess accordingly for the following cognitive interventions.

Engaging in group movement therapy for healing allows for a new environment for most, and it can generate a wonderful sense of community and encouragement from others. For anyone that has suffered any form of physical trauma, movement therapy is especially helpful since it has shown to help regain confidence and empowerment over one’s physical being.

Benefits of Movement Therapy

Healing the mind and body through the power of movement is entirely possible, and it is becoming more accessible the more we learn and understand this method of therapy. While anyone can reap the rewards of exercising this, some find that this type of therapy is genuinely the best option for their needs. A number of specific benefits can be attained through group movement therapy, such as:

Creation of a Better Mind/Body Connection

When you attend movement therapy, the aim is for the exercises to fully integrate the mind, body, and soul into one. Moving the body is still a form of communication in its own way and surrendering to the practice can have immense therapeutic benefits. Mental illnesses can sometimes create a disconnect between the physical and mental being, and a major goal of this therapy is to heal and work your way back to a place where they are no longer disengaged. Those that practice movement in this way report to have an overall better connection with their physical body, which also often results in a more generally positive outlook and mindset.

Relief of Physical Tension

Conditions like chronic depression, anxiety, and stress can produce numerous physical effects that begin to take a toll on the body over time. Painful tension in places like the neck, shoulders, and back can begin to manifest as a result of what is going on in the mind, and movement therapy is able to alleviate this pain to an extent. The positive feelings that are associated with movement therapy can help replace some of the physical pain that has generated within the body.

Means of Expression

Movement therapy offers clients a way to express themselves when words are not cutting it. Having the form of expression that is offered through movement therapy aids those that are not comfortable with exclusively incorporating talk therapy or when another means of articulating how they feel. There are a lot of different ways to get creative and express yourself to receive therapeutic benefits, but group movement therapy is certainly one of a kind. Getting creative and applying movement in this way does wonders for the mind, body, and soul, producing highly healing effects in a totally unique way.

A Good Alternative to Talk Therapy

For some, talk therapy is the end all be all and the best way to work through and heal from any trauma or underlying mental illness. Talk therapy is wonderful and has benefited countless people all over the world, but we must recognize that every person is vastly different and may require another form of therapy that resonates more with them. For those that find certain trauma or experiences too difficult to discuss in words. This is where movement therapy can come into play and offer astounding benefits for those that prefer to express themselves nonverbally before diving deeper into the situation at hand.

Produces Endorphins

When the body gets to moving at a consistent rate, endorphins – which are the feel-good chemicals released by your brain during certain instances – flood your body and provide a noticeable boost in your mood. Also known as the reason behind the “runners high,†the endorphins produced through movement therapy can really assist participants in feeling their best both mentally and physically. Symptoms that often come with conditions like depression have shown to be significantly reduced through the integration of movement therapy.

Through the utilization of innovative techniques like group movement therapy, so many more people are able to receive the assistance they need when it comes to healing and working through mental health concerns. Finding a means to connect the mind and body in such a proactive and creative way is nothing short of incredible, and having the shared experience of movement therapy with others is an extraordinary way to receive a high level of emotional support and community.

Getting Help

If you or a loved one are looking to take the next step toward mental wellness in your life, we are ready to help on that journey. We have a team of psychiatrists, therapists and psychologists that specialize in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and medication management. Our team of compassionate and skilled professionals is available for in person appointments for patients in the DFW area. We also offer online appointments for patients in the Austin, DFW, Houston and San Antonio areas.


Picture of Dr. Michael Messina

Dr. Michael Messina

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