What Is Dance/Movement Therapy?

What Is Dance/Movement Therapy?

Dance/movement therapy (DMT) is a type of creative arts psychotherapy that engages the body in mental health counseling. It is a practice grounded in the scientifically supported principle that there exists a profound connection between mind and body. The American Dance Therapy Association (ADTA) presents a comprehensive definition of DMT as the “psychotherapeutic use of movement to enhance emotional, cognitive, physical, and social integration of the individual.”

This form of therapy recognizes that emotions are multifaceted, having cognitive, physical, and physiological manifestations. Furthermore, dance in its pure form has innately therapeutic properties. As a vibrant and often social activity, dance, much like exercise, fosters not just physical health but mental well-being as well, a concept we refer to as “dance as therapy.” Dance/Movement Therapy, on the other hand, harnesses these beneficial attributes within the framework of a professional therapeutic relationship.

The Birth and Evolution of Dance/Movement Therapy

The roots of Dance/Movement Therapy can be traced back to the 1940s. The field emerged, influenced by theories from psychodynamic, humanistic, and gestalt psychology. Practicing DMT necessitates a post-graduate level of education and professional credentialing.

The Significance of Assessment in Dance/Movement Therapy

Dance/movement therapists are trained to use movement analysis profiles to observe and describe how the human body tends to move in space and in relation to others. With multicultural and contextual consideration, we assess body language, nonverbal interaction, communicative and adaptive behavior. This also reveals a lot about one’s personality and preferred way of moving through the world. Interventions. Informed by psychological and motor development throughout the lifespan, in addition to clinical diagnostic criteria, movement analysis then guides treatment goals and intervention.

Intervention Strategies in Dance/Movement Therapy

Dance/movement therapy is a person-centered and strengths-based practice. Therapists attune to patients, meeting them where they are, to build rapport and create a safe environment in which they feel empowered to process their emotional experiences. This often involves mirroring, a process in which we embody and reflect their nonverbal expressions back to them. This helps patients not only feel heard, as in traditional talk therapy, but seen. From there, we utilize the patient’s strengths to move toward growth and wellness, expanding their movement and expressive repertoire. Dance therapy is known to build self-awareness, self-esteem and body image, improve emotional regulation, as well as develop healthy communication and coping skills. Interventions often emerge spontaneously, are creative and playful, and may involve mindful breathwork, metaphor, music and props. Our research base is actively expanding to support its efficacy.

How to Access Dance/Movement Therapy Services

Dance/Movement Therapy services are available for individuals of all ages and experiences across a broad spectrum of treatment settings. When seeking a professional, consider one who specializes in your specific level of care and area of need, whether neurodevelopmental, socioemotional, physical, medical, or otherwise. At the Lukin Center, you will find both Lauren Bomberg, Board-Certified, and Gabrielle Milani, Registered practitioners. You may also refer to the American Dance Therapy Association Directory online to identify a professional who fits your needs!

Happy National Dance/Movement Therapy Advocacy Day June 13th!

Lauren Bomberg, LPC, BC-DMT

Psychotherapist, Board Certified Movement Therapist

Lauren Bomberg, MA, LPC, BC-DMT is a psychotherapist specializing in treating young children with neurodevelopmental, social-emotional, and behavioral challenges while supporting their parents with positive solutions. She is particularly passionate about the treatment of anxiety and related disorders. Adult work may focus on navigating life transitions and stressors, relationships, occupational or academic pressures, and perfectionism.  

Lauren uses evidenced-based, solution-focused, and strengths-based approaches with unconditional positive regard for the client to foster healthy coping and communication skills. As one of few Board Certified-Movement Psychotherapists in New Jersey, Lauren finds creative and playful ways to actively engage children in session to meet their individualized treatment goals. She supports their parents with Positive Parenting tips and scripts, Parent-Child Interactive Therapy (PCIT) skills, and her professional training in the scientifically-proven Supportive Parenting for Anxious Childhood Emotions (SPACE) program. Finally, Lauren empowers clients with psychoeducation and incorporates Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) skills.

Previously, Lauren spent years refining her clinical skills at the partial hospitalization and intensive outpatient levels of care. She has provided group, individual, and family therapy to children, adolescents, and adults in crisis with a variety of acute psychiatric diagnoses. During her graduate studies, Lauren focused on child development and nonverbal communication, serving infants to adolescents with neurodevelopmental and motor disabilities in specialized and inclusive school settings. Her thesis, inspired by Attachment Theory, was published and selected for presentation at the ADTA national conference. Dedicated to lifelong learning and quality care, Lauren frequently participates in continuing education and mental health advocacy today.      

Lauren earned her Bachelor of Science from Muhlenberg College, where she majored in both Neuroscience and Dance with a concentration in Dance Science. She then attended Drexel University, where she earned her Master’s degree in Dance/Movement Therapy and Mental Health Counseling.