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Mother And Child, A Dance Movement Therapy Case

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Medicine; an art? Special Study Unit

March 20th, 2006

Student No: 90000275

Mothers and Children

Dance / Movement Therapy and Bonding


Hofer and Bowlby illustrated that all animals, including humans, need to form close bonds of affection to facilitate normal development. In an infant, physical arousal such as that precipitated by hunger or cold, gives rise to emotional arousal. This state can only be corrected by a caregiver, given the infant's limited capability. The infant soon learns that in the caregiver's presence, the normal status quo can be restored far beyond the infant's own coping abilities and forms an attachment. Initially this attachment provides basic needs, such as food and warmth, but it evolves into the framework for future relationships and the infant's view of their Ð''self'.

When seeking out attachment, infants exhibit particular behaviours, including seeking proximity, smiling and clinging. Adults reciprocate by touching, holding and soothing. These behaviours are not unique to human attachments.

Through out the ages, cultures have relied on dance to tell stories, heal the ill and communicate with the supernatural. In western society it was viewed largely as a method of story telling until in the 1940s one dance tutor famously realised her students' release of stress and self-expression in their movements. Famous psychotherapists became interested in the work and in 1966 the American Dance Therapy Association (ADTA) was formed.

According to the ADTA, the purpose of dance therapy is "the psychotherapeutic use of movement as a process which furthers the emotional, social, cognitive, and physical integration of the individual." This is based on the premise that movement reflects an individual's thinking or feeling. By then adapting the patient or client's movement patterns one is able to affect the emotional state of the person.

An additional benefit of dance movement therapy is a method of accessing the kinaesthetic route of learning and expression. This is particularly helpful in young children, as the visual and auditory methods of interacting with others may not be as well developed.

Dance has historically been a group activity Ð'- it is often part of social situations. Dance therapy is often used to help with social interaction skills.


To examine the potential benefits of Dance Movement Therapy (DMT) to mother-child dyads in encouraging positive



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