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Brief Summary of Research on the Effectiveness of Dance/Movement Therapy

Here we present four systematic reviews of dance/movement therapy effectiveness, each of which includes meta-analysis:

 

Two independent reviews:  

1.

Cruz, R., & Sabers, D. (1998) Dance/movement therapy is more effective than previously reported. The Arts in Psychotherapy: An international journal, 25, 101-104.    [Ritter and Low (1996), corrected.] 

Thirteen studies of 469 participants total, analyzed for anxiety, self-concept, body awareness, and separately for all psychiatric patients.  

Finding: Effect size values were comparable to those published for CBT, at the time.   

 

2.

Koch, S. C., Kunz, T., Kolter, A., Lykou, S., & Cruz, R. (2013). Effects of dance movement therapy and dance on psychological outcomes: A meta-analysis. Arts in Psychotherapy, vol 41, (1), 46-64. 

An update of Cruz and Sabers, using 23 studies of 1078 participants total. Findings as excerpted from the Abstract, with emphasis added: 

“Results suggest that DMT and dance are effective for increasing quality of life and decreasing clinical symptoms such as depression and anxiety. Positive effects were also found on the increase of subjective well-being, positive mood, affect, and body image.” © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.  

Two reviews for the Cochrane Collaboration of Systematic Reviews:  


3. 

Meekums, B., Karkou, V., & Nelson, E.A. (2012) Dance movement therapy for depression. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2012, Issue 6. Art. No.: CD009895. DOI:  10.1002/14651858.CD009895.  Findings: Three randomized controlled trials, of 130 participants total, SMD of -7.3 favoring the DMT intervention for reduced depression. In review, with publication expected before the end of 2014.  

 

4. 

Bradt, J., Goodill, S.W., & Dileo, C. (2011) Dance/movement therapy for improving psychological and physical outcomes in cancer patients. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2011, Issue 10. Art. No.: CD007103. DOI:  10.1002/14651858.CD007103.pub2

Findings: Two randomized controlled trials of 69 participants total. M-A of body image outcomes possible but SMD of -.13 did not find support for an effect. 

This systematic review is currently (August 2014) being updated (by Bradt, Goodill & Shim) with new studies included.    

 

Overall, there has been DMT outcome research conducting using various forms of clinical trials to demonstrate benefits with the following outcomes and populations. A reference list of the studies from which this list was drawn follows below. It suggests the breadth of application and utility of this therapeutic approach,when provided by a trained professional clinician.   

  • Mood (depression, anxiety, vitality)
  • Self-concept/esteem, body-image (cancer, children)
  • Social/relationship skills (anti- violence/bullying)
  • Capacity for empathy (e.g., staff caregivers)
  • Stress management, self-regulation (trauma) 
  • Academic performance (e.g., reading fluency)
  • Readiness for parenting  (e.g., pregnancy support)
  • Medical, psychomotor, neuro-functioning  (PD, fibromyalgia)    


Selected studies and publications on DMT effectiveness:

Randomized controlled trials, controlled clinical trials, pre-experimental designs and meta-analyses


Berrol, C. F., Ooi, W. L., & Katz, S. S. (1997). Dance/movement therapy with older adults who have sustained neurological insult: A demonstration project. American Journal of Dance Therapy, 19(2), 135-160. 

Blazquez, A; Guillamo, E & Javierre, C. (2010) Preliminary experience with dance movement therapy in patients with chronic fatigue syndrome. The Arts in Psychotherapy. Vol. 37(4), pp. 285-292. 

Bojner-Horwitz, E., Theorell, T., & Anderberg, U. M. (2003). Dance/movement therapy and changes in stress-related hormones: a study of fibromyalgia patients with video-interpretation. The Arts in Psychotherapy, 30(5), 255-264. 

Bradt, J., & Goodill, S. (2013). Creative arts therapies defined. JAMA Internal Medicine. Advanced online publication. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.6145. 

Bradt, J., Goodill, S.W., & Dileo, C. (2011) Dance/movement therapy for improving psychological and physical outcomes in cancer patients. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2011, Issue 10. Art. No.: CD007103. DOI:  10.1002/14651858.CD007103.pub2. 

Bräuninger, I. (2012). Dance movement therapy group intervention in stress treatment: A randomized controlled trial (RCT)."The Arts in Psychotherapy, 39(5): 443-450. 

Bräuninger, I. (2012). The efficacy of dance movement therapy group on improvement of quality of life: A randomized controlled trial. The Arts in Psychotherapy 39, (4): 296-303. 

Cruz, R., & Sabers, D. (1998) Dance/movement therapy is more effective than previously reported. The Arts in Psychotherapy, 25, 101-104. 

Brooks, D., & Stark, A. (1989). The effect of D/MT on affect: A pilot study. American Journal of Dance Therapy, 11(2), 101- 111. 

Cima, R., Maes, I., Joore, M. A., Scheyen, D., Fefaie, A., Baguley D., Aneunis, A., van Breukelen, G., & Viaeyen, J. (2012). Specialised treatment based on cognitive behaviour therapy versus usual care for tinnitus: a randomised controlled trial. Lancet, 379, 1951-1959.  [Note: the CBT intervention in this study was delivered through dance/movement therapy.] Cruz, R.F. (2001).  The effect size of dance/movement therapy: Reviewing Cruz & Sabers (1998). Poster presented at the annual meeting of the American Dance Therapy Association, Raleigh, NC.  

Dayanim, S. (2009). The acute effects of a specialized movement program on the verbal abilities of patients with late-stage dementia. Alzheimer’s Care Today. April-June, pp. 93-98. 

Dibbell-Hope, S. (2000). The use of dance/movement therapy in psychological adaptation to breast cancer. Arts in Psychotherapy, 27(1), 51–68. Erwin-Grabner, T, Goodill, S., Schelly-Hill, E., & Von Neida, K. (1999). Effectiveness of dance/movement therapy on reducing test anxiety. American Journal of Dance Therapy, 21(1), 19-34.  

Goodill, S. (2005). Research Letter: Dance/movement therapy for adults with cystic fibrosis: Pilot data on mood and adherence. Alternative Therapies in Health & Medicine, 11(1), 76-77. 

Harvey, S. (1989). Creative arts therapies in the classroom: A study of cognitive, emotional and motivational changes. American Journal of Dance Therapy, 11(2), 85-100. 

Hervey, L. & Kornblum, R. (2006). An evaluation of Kornblum’s body-based violence prevention curriculum for children. The Arts in Psychotherapy, vol. 33, pp. 113-129. 

Ho, Rainbow T.H. (n.d.) The effects of a dance/movement-based psychotherapy on the symptom cluster, quality of life, and diurnal cortisol rhythm in Chinese breast cancer patients undergoing radiotherapy (Funding: GRF/HIU745110H) (ongoing).  

Jeong, Y. L., Hong, S. C., Lee, M. S., Park, M. C., Kim, Y. K., & Suh, C. M. (2005). Dance movement therapy improves emotional responses and modulates neurohormones in adolescents with mild depression. International Journal of Neuroscience, 115(12), 1711-1720.  

Koch, S. C., Kunz, T., Kolter, A., Lykou, S., & Cruz, R. (2013). Effects of dance movement therapy and dance on psychological outcomes: A meta-analysis. Arts in Psychotherapy, vol 41, (1), 46-64. 

Koch, S., Morlinghaus, K., & Fuchs, T. (2007). The joy dance: Specific effects of a single dance intervention on psychiatric patients with depression. The Arts in Psychotherapy 34, 340–349. 

Koshland, L., & Wittaker, J. W. B. (2004) PEACE through dance/movement: Evaluating a violence prevention program.  American Journal of Dance Therapy, 26(2), 69-90. 

Krantz, A., & Pennebaker, J. W. (2007). Expressive dance, writing, trauma, and health: When words have a body. In I. A. Serlin, J. Sonke-Henderson, R. Brandman, & J. Graham-Pole (Eds.) Whole Person Healthcare, Volume 3: The arts and health,  (pp. 201-229). Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers. 

Moore, C. (2006). Dance/movement therapy in the light of trauma: Research findings of a multidisciplinary project. In S. C. Koch & I. Braüninger (Eds.), Advances in dance/movement therapy: Theoretical perspectives and empirical findings (pp. 104– 115). Berlin: Logos Verlag. 

Mala A, Karkou V, & Meekums B. (2012) Dance/Movement Therapy (DMT) for depression: A scoping review. Arts in Psychotherapy, vol. 39, Pages 287–295. 

Meekums, B., Karkou, V., & Nelson, E.A. (2012) Dance movement therapy for depression. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2012, Issue 6. Art. No.: CD009895. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD009895.  

National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health (2010). Core interventions in the treatment and management of schizophrenia in adults in primary and secondary care (Updated edition). National Clinical Guideline Number 82. London, UK:  The British Psychological Society & The Royal College of Psychiatrists. [Note: This government publication in the UK recommends dance/movement therapy and other creative arts therapies in treatment for adults with schizophrenia.] 

Ritter, M. & Low, K.G. (1996) Effects of dance/movement therapy: A meta-analysis. Arts in Psychotherapy, vol. 23, pp. 249- 260. 

Röhricht, F, Papadopoulos, N., Holden, S. & Clarke, TR (2011) Therapeutic processes and clinical outcomes of body psychotherapy in chronic schizophrenia – An open clinical trial. The Arts in Psychotherapy 38 (2011) 196– 203. 

Sandel, S. L., Judge, J. O., Landry, N., Faria, L., Ouellette, R., & Majczak, M. (2005). Dance and movement program improves quality-of-life measures in breast cancer survivors. Cancer Nursing, 28(4), 301–309.         

   

ADTA/DMT research summary prepared July 2014 by: 

Sherry W.  Goodill, Ph.D., BC-DMT, NCC, LPC                      

Past-President, American Dance Therapy Association  


Parts of this summary was prepared for and presented at the

2013 Expressive Therapies Summit, New York City, November, 2013 for the

National Coalition of Creative Arts Therapy Association’s Research Panel. 


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