Using Arts and Dance to Treat Mental Illness Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

Dance and the Treatment of PTSD/Mental Illness

The first key concept of the article is the notion that "arts-based programming" is a positive and helpful way to treat PTSD. This theory aligns with classical psychology/philosophy -- namely, the ideas of the ancient Greeks and Romans, which was that the best way to cure the body and mind was to start by curing the soul. In order to do this, they used music, good environments, art, and other types of "cultural" productions to alleviate the stress in the individual's life and provide a better balance of confidence and ability in the person's psyche. This is the main idea of the study by the researchers Wilbur et al. They elaborate on this idea by highlighting the effectiveness of dance as a treatment modality, stating that "dance is one of the most synchronized activities in which humans engage, and its neural substrates are being increasingly understood" (97). Not only do the researchers point out the fact that dance has been beneficially used in all cultures for thousands of years but they also note that in modern medicine dance has been shown to be effectively used in the treatment of neurological diseases like Parkinson's which affects the body's movements. On top of this, the researchers underscore an added benefit of using dance to treat PTSD patients -- the notion that dance can foster "a sense of community and feelings of accomplishment and joy" (Wilbur et al. 97). This method can be especially useful for patients who are at high-risk of developing "co-morbidities such as cardiovascular disease, hypertension, obesity and diabetes" (Wilber et al. 97). By getting these patients up and out of their chairs and getting them into the habit of moving in an energetic manner, they are not only treating their PTSD, but also helping to prevent other consequences of lethargy and lack of exercise typically linked to PTSD.

This key concept is very important as it is the basis of the study and the reason for conducting it in the first place: it essentially addresses the question, "What is the power of dance and how is it an effective treatment modality in PTSD cases?" As a society, we fit in to this concept because dance is something that brings communities together -- it is something that one can do alone, of course, but it is most often done with others: it draws individuals out of their shells and allows them to interact with others in a fun and upbeat manner. It allows one to forget oneself for a few moments. As a society, we place a lot of importance on how we come across to others, which can be very stressful, especially for patients who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. With dance, the opportunity is given to forget about that stress for a few minutes. It does this, too, by tapping into our embodied cultural knowledge of different kinds and styles of dance, so that there is likely to be some form of movement that appeals to every individual.

A second key concept is that Dance for Veterans is a program that is a collaboration between "professional dancers and mental healthcare providers, bridging the gap between traditional dance classes and traditional mental health care" -- which means that the treatment is not simply a bunch of people getting up and dancing but that it actually has a medical focus and has been designed to impact in the most comprehensive ways the systems of the body and mind (Wilbur et al. 98). What this concept reveals is that the design of the program is focused explicitly on "de-pathologizing the participants and promoting social and functional well-being" (Wilber et al., 2015, p. 98) -- or, in short, it uses the activity of dancing in order to address medical concerns related to body (stress)…

Sources Used in Document:

Works Cited

Wilbur, Sarah, et al. "Dance for Veterans: A complementary health program for veterans with serious mental illness." Arts and Health, vol. 7, no. 2 (2015): 96-108.

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