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Trauma and the role of EMDR and Dance Movement Therapy

Updated: Jul 30, 2023

EMDR and Dance Movement Therapy

In the realm of psychotherapy, two powerful therapeutic modalities have emerged as innovative approaches to healing trauma and mental health issues: Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) and Dance Movement Therapy. Though distinct in their techniques, these therapeutic interventions share surprising similarities that make them both effective tools in facilitating emotional processing and personal transformation. In this post, we will explore the common ground between EMDR and Dance Movement Therapy, shedding light on how these complementary approaches help individuals restore their emotional balance and reclaim their lives.

The Role of Movement

At the heart of both EMDR and Dance Movement Therapy lies the concept of movement, albeit in different forms. In EMDR, movement is expressed through the eye movements that accompany the therapy. These bilateral stimulations facilitate the reprocessing of traumatic memories, allowing the mind to heal and integrate them more effectively. On the other hand, Dance Movement Therapy utilises physical movement and dance as a means to access emotions and express feelings that may be challenging to verbalise. Through dance, individuals can tap into their bodies' wisdom, unlocking deeply rooted emotions and experiences.

Body-based Approaches

Both EMDR and Dance Movement Therapy adopt body-based approaches, recognising the intimate connection between the mind and body. EMDR therapists often incorporate body awareness exercises, such as grounding techniques and body scans, to help clients feel more present and connected during the therapy process. In Dance Movement Therapy, the body is the primary instrument of expression, and practitioners encourage clients to explore their bodily sensations and movements to access and process emotions effectively.

Dual Awareness and Distancing

One of the key aspects of EMDR is the concept of "dual awareness," wherein clients are guided to hold both their traumatic memories and their present reality in mind simultaneously. This helps create a sense of distance and safety from the distressing memories. Similarly, in Dance Movement Therapy, clients often experience a sense of "distancing" from their emotional struggles as they express them through movement. This allows individuals to observe their emotions from an external perspective, fostering a deeper understanding and acceptance of their inner experiences.

Processing and Integration

At their core, both EMDR and Dance Movement Therapy aim to facilitate the processing and integration of emotional experiences. EMDR uses bilateral stimulation to assist clients in reprocessing traumatic memories, transforming them from distressing memories to more adaptive ones. Dance Movement Therapy through movement and dance, enables the expression and release of suppressed emotions, leading to a greater sense of emotional integration and well-being.

Accessing the Subconscious

Another similarity between EMDR and Dance Movement Therapy is their ability to access the subconscious mind. EMDR's use of eye movements is believed to activate the brain's information processing system, allowing the subconscious mind to surface and process unresolved trauma. Similarly, Dance Movement Therapy's non-verbal nature provides a direct pathway to the subconscious, granting clients access to deeply held emotions and experiences that may be inaccessible through traditional talk therapy.


In the world of psychotherapy, EMDR and Dance Movement Therapy stand as powerful testimonies to the healing potential of movement and the body-mind connection. While they differ in their techniques and applications, their underlying principles and objectives align closely. Both modalities offer unique pathways to emotional processing, personal growth, and healing from trauma.

As the mental health field continues to evolve, it is crucial to recognise and embrace the diversity of therapeutic approaches available. Whether one chooses EMDR, Dance Movement Therapy, or another modality altogether, the message remains clear – healing comes in many forms, and the power of movement in unlocking the human potential for transformation should never be underestimated.


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