Ho (2005) Effects of Dance Movement Therapy on Chinese Cancer Patients: A Pilot Study in Hong Kong

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journal article


Rainbow T. H. Ho. Arts in Psychotherapy. 2005; Vol. 32, No. 5: pp 337-345.


Dance movement therapy (DMT) is predicated on the belief that body movement reflects and affects psychological states. For most cancer patients, the treatment procedures are traumatic. The surgical removal of body parts, nausea, loss of hair, and fatigue from radiotherapy and chemotherapy internally assault the physical body, causing suffering and pain. Psychological and physical problems often appear after the medical treatment. Dance movement therapy, which acts directly on the body, may then have a profound effect on the healing process in cancer patients. Where a more in-depth approach such as authentic movement has been used, dance movement therapy has helped significantly to increase participants' energy and reduce fatigue. Objective and self-perceived subjective improvements have also been found to patients' mood, body image, and self-esteem. Participants indicated that they have increased sense of hope, ease, strength and social support, while negative mood and worry about future was decreased. Although DMT is a completely new modality of psychotherapy for most Hong Kong people, the high participation rate and the positive feedback from participants indicated that the program was well-received by Chinese cancer patents. A significant reduction in perceived stress, and a positive change in self-esteem, also demonstrated the beneficial effect of the program.



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