Dance/Movement Therapy and Mental Illness–An ADTA Talk

Engaging Individuals with Mental Illness through Dance/Movement Therapy

Drawing on more than 25 years working in psychiatric hospitals, dance/movement therapist Ted Ehrhardt, MS, BC-DMT, LCAT, CMA, explains in this ADTA Talk how dance/movement therapy can be a catalyst for those facing mental illness.

With one in five American citizens using a psychotropic medication and 25 percent of people being diagnosed with a mental illness in a given year, exploring how people with mental illness can reclaim healthy mental functioning is paramount.

Ehrhardt shares a story of a young woman he worked with facing the onset of a serious mental illness and how the use of dance/movement therapy gave her an opportunity to share with and receive from others.

{Dance/movement therapy} is based on the idea that I can use dance as a therapeutic intervention to help a patient integrate her functioning,” Ehrhardt explained. “It’s based on the relationship I establish with her. And the movement we engender together. That’s the core of the experience.”

The movement has a theme and is addressed in the session and then integrated into the treatment. The movement is the “essence of the transaction,” Ehrhardt said. Patients are able to share and receive from others – reclaiming parts of their lives.

“We’re relying on a patient’s capacity to generate an expression that is his own, and that in itself is healing,” Ehrhardt said. “That he could share with another person. And that he could receive from other people. That’s how it works.”

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