This article is from the Alternative Medicine Therapies guide.
Dance therapy (also called dance/movement therapy) is the use of choreographed or improvised movement as a way of treating social, emotional, cognitive, and physical problems. Throughout the ages, people of many cultures have used dance to express powerful emotions, tell stories, treat illness, celebrate important events, and maintain communal bonds. Dance therapy harnesses this power of movement in a therapeutic setting and uses it to promote personal growth, health, and well-being.
Dance as therapy came into existence as a marriage of sorts between modern dance and psychiatry. Its was pioneered by Marian Chace (1896-1970), who studied dance in New York City before establishing her own studio in Washington, DC, in the 1930s. Because Chase's dance classes provided unique opportunities for self-expression, communication, and group interaction, psychiatrists in Washington began sending patients to her.
By the mid-1940s Chase was giving lectures and demonstrations, and other professional dancers soon followed her lead, using dance to help people with an array of emotional, mental, and physical problems. It was not until 1966, when the American Dance Therapy Association (ADTA) was founded, that dance therapy gained professional recognition. Today the ADTA has nearly 1,200 members in 46 states and 20 countries around the world.