Just Dance: How Can Movement Therapy Help PTSD?

Just Dance: How Can Movement Therapy Help PTSD?

Published on August 23, 2020 by First Responder Wellness

Therapy is a great place to begin working through trauma — for some. Others have found the benefits of immersing the body in movement therapy upon being diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Incorporating the body right off the bat initiates healing between any disconnect with the mind. The interconnectivity of mind and body act as the linchpin of any mindful recovery from PTSD, addiction, and a variety of other disorders.

Healing the mind is necessary for trauma recovery — no doubt about it. For certain types of people, out-thinking pain represents more of an uphill battle than it poses for others. We can mistakenly view our minds as these nebulous, ethereal spaces when in reality, our feelings, emotions, and desires originate with the numerous physical processes that are regulated through the combined efforts of our body’s intricate systems. While every person can benefit from close observation of their own thoughts, sometimes the human body needs to wiggle and move through the realizations we have about ourselves.

Listening to Your Body

Just like verbally opening up to a group of listening people, dance/movement therapy (DMT) provides an essential mode of communication. The sensation of stress and anxiety can feel paralyzing, but deep down, these perceived distractors are trying to alert us that some underlying disturbance within us is in need of attention.

All that we can control is how we respond to the presence of stress and anxiety. Any attempt to snuff them out altogether will only exacerbate their efforts. Most of the time, they are just telling you that you are desiring to be heard.

DMT sends a message to our stressors — in an unignorable way — that we are hearing these distress signals loud and clear, all while stimulating cardiovascular health. PTSD sends messages of discomfort through the body, attempting to contact the mind in a cry for help. DMT allows the mind to consult surfacing anxieties and send the anxious energy back through the body in an act of creation.

The DMT Difference

As time goes on, more and more options for trauma therapy become accessible to a wider audience. So, what differentiates DMT from other forms of therapy? For starters, dance and movement heal trauma without imposing goals along the way.

As important as goal-oriented therapy is for following through with mental health practices, certain individuals can also benefit from the creation of a healing space that exists outside of expectations. The feeling of free, agenda-less expression can relieve the weight of trauma significantly.

DMT also offers the opportunity for those seeking recovery from PTSD and/or addiction to experience physical health benefits concurrently with mental health progress. The most effective method for experiencing growth through DMT occurs alongside other forms of therapy.

Individuals healing from any form of mental injury report experiencing immense growth from the tag-team approach of cognitive self-reflection and artistic expression of complex emotions. Seeking out different types of therapy provides a well-rounded catharsis for injuries to both the left and right brain.

What If I Have Two Left Feet?

Social anxiety is a very real manifestation of stress. We aren’t all Fred Astaire or Ginger Rogers, and some simply dislike dancing. If you find yourself in this group but are still curious about the benefits of art-based therapy, start with dedicating some time to listen to your favorite music.

For ten minutes, listen to music that makes you feel happy, sad, and angry — or whatever it is those tunes make you feel — with a focus on how your emotions change over the course of the song. Most likely, this exercise will inspire some foot-tapping or light head-bobbing.

Get Moving

A key aspect of DMT is the “movement.” Playing air drums definitely looks different from breakdancing, but the mental connection to music makes this mode of therapy extremely effective at tapping into sunken sentiments. Regardless of the degree of difficulty accompanying the movement therapy, the resulting healing of mind and body can feel the same to individuals who cope with PTSD.

The mental connection to music amplifies our repressed thoughts in an expression of catharsis. DMT should be a release of the stress and anxieties stored up from PTSD and alcohol and/or substance use disorder. The opportunity to regain some semblance of control over our manipulative anxieties frees our minds to think clearly for a brief period of time.

Too often, the people who care the most about us receive the misdirected anger and frustration resulting from underlying disorders. By moving these feelings outside of our bodies, we can begin to heal.

Tired of sitting around and feeling powerless over your own thoughts? Try putting on some upbeat music and moving around to get rid of those blues. When you get your blood pumping and listen to your emotions, you might be surprised to realize how much you were holding in. At True Recovery, we believe that no one should be a wallflower at your mental health’s prom. There is no one path to recovery, so our treatment plans are flexible and designed for each individual. We also offer specialized programs that address the unique needs of first responders. At True Recovery, we help our clients hone their recovery skills and rebuild the confidence they need to transition back into their professional lives with their sobriety intact. If you or a loved one is showing symptoms of trauma along with alcohol and/or substance abuse, we are here for you 24/7. Call us now at (888) 743-0490.