My previous blog entry introduced Creative Arts Therapies, in particular, Dance Movement Therapy and explained how expressive movements could improve clients’ psychological issues and well-being.
But how effective is Dance Movement Therapy?
I have recently researched into the effectiveness of DMT and findings suggest that it could be very beneficial for many types of people with varying illnesses- ranging from adolescents with mild depression (Jeong et al, 2005) to improving the quality of life for women recovering from cancer (Sandel et al, 2005). Erwin-Grabner et al (1999) researched the effectiveness of Dance Movement Therapy on reducing test anxiety. Twenty-one university students volunteered to take part in the study and were asked to complete a Test Attitude Inventory (TAI) prior to the study (measure of test anxiety). Participants assigned to the experimental group took part in four 35 minute dance/movement sessions over a two week period which was structured around exam-like situations. After the movement sessions the control group and the experimental group were asked to re-take the TAI in order for the researchers to compare the results. The findings showed that the experimental group of participants demonstrated a significantly greater reduction in TAI score in comparison to the control group suggesting that Dance Movement Therapy may be an effective method of reducing test anxiety levels.
Furthermore, a study carried out by Lundy and McGuffin (2005) investigated the effectiveness of DMT alongside therapeutic holding. Although quite ineffective, therapeutic holding is frequently used as a way of controlling aggressive behaviour in children, despite that it carries physical and emotional risks. Research was therefore carried out by Lundy and McGuffin in order to find out whether a Creative Arts Therapy like Dance Movement Therapy could be used alongside therapeutic holding as a way of reducing the associated risks. In order to carry out this research, the staff of a residential treatment centre volunteered to participate in a DMT training workshop which integrated the movement techniques with therapeutic holding. Children also participated in the study through self-report. Lundy and McGuffin’s 2005 study found that using Dance Movement Therapy alongside therapeutic holding reduced the threat of trauma to adults, however, they insist further research into this integration of therapies would prove beneficial in order to make therapeutic holding safer for children too.
There are many research findings which suggest that Dance Movement Therapy is an effective therapy, however, whether or not it is more effective than physiological treatments is debatable. Perhaps, such as in the study of Lundy and McGuffin (2005), DMT works more efficiently alongside other treatments.
Erwin-Grabner, T., Goodill, S. W., Hill, E. S., Neida, K. V. (1999). Effectiveness of Dance/Movement Therapy on Reducing Test Anxiety. Retrieved from: http://www.springerlink.com/content/x5470033n2vq2gq6/
Lundy, H., & McGuffin, P. (2005) Using Dance/Movement Therapy to Augment the Effectiveness of Therapeutic Holding with Children. Journal of child and adolescent psychiatric nursing, 3, 135-145. DOI: 10.1111/j.1744-6171.2005.00023.x