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Moving Mental Health: What is Movement Therapy?

If I said to you the words "movement therapy", what is the first thought that comes into your mind? People chanting in a field while being connected to nature while waving flowing scarves or hankies? Or people attending workshops where they stand around and laugh?

Possibly, you would be correct, but there are also other methods where getting us moving can positively impact our mental health.

Dance can be great for our mental health southampton

Dance Therapy

In order to be a 'Dance Therapist' in the UK, counsellors must hold a Master's Degree or higher qualification. I'm not a dance therapist myself, but the Association for Dance Movement Psychotherapy UK have plenty to say on the subject.

They explain that 'Dance Movement Psychotherapy (DMP) recognises body movement as an implicit instrument of communication and expression. DMP is a relational process in which the client(s) and therapist engage creatively using body movement and dance, as well as verbal and non-verbal reflection.'

Dance Movement Psychotherapists offer embodied interventions that take into account the client's lived experience in the context of the social system they live in, how they experience living in their body and relationships to their body, how they think about themselves and their relationships, as well as emotional responses that may be hard to put into words, can support an increase in self-awareness, self-esteem, self-confidence, personal autonomy, and self-expression through the integration of emotional, cognitive, physical, and social aspects of self.'

If this is something you wish to explore in more depth, then you can search in your local area for online or in-person classes. Also, please be advised to check in the county where you are residing to see if therapists must be trained in this type of therapy.

But you don't necessarily need to see a counsellor to enjoy the art of movement, which can be done in the comfort of your own home by dancing around your kitchen while making your evening meal or first thing in the morning while you're getting ready for work.

Yoga can be great for our mental health southampton


If dancing isn't your thing and you prefer a slower pace of movement, then yoga might be of interest to you, which some people incorporate into their lives to help improve mindfulness.

Yoga could be beneficial to those experiencing 'stress, anxiety, depression, and other mood disorders, as it has been shown to create a greater sense of well-being, increase feelings of relaxation, improve self-confidence and body image, improve efficiency, foster better interpersonal relationships, increase attentiveness, lower irritability, and encourage an optimistic outlook on life.' (C. Woodyard, 2011)

One of the perks of yoga is that it is relatively inexpensive; you don't need to purchase new workout gear or even a yoga mat. There are plenty of free yoga videos and tutorials that you can follow along on YouTube at home, which can last from a couple of minutes to an hour plus.

For those of you who would prefer a more casual setting, please search online for your nearest yoga studio.

Playing sports such as tennis can be great for our mental health Southampton

Sport and exercise

According to the UK Mental Health Foundation 'Physical activity has been shown to have a positive impact on our mood. Researchers found that the participants felt more content, more awake, and calmer after being physically active compared to after periods of inactivity. They also found that the effect of physical activity on mood was greatest when the mood was initially low.'

Studies have also shown that those interact with team sports have report improvements in their mental health and well-being.

'It also boosts your motivation, makes you happier, and improves feelings of social connectedness and peer bonding, which all help to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression.' (Vitality, 2020)

I would recommend consulting your GP or health care provider if you have any concerns or worries about your overall health or are thinking about taking up physical activity.

Warm regards,


Charlotte Parker MBACP is our Counselling Director and a Person-Centred Psychotherapist. You can find her profile here and book a session with her here.

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