Neurophysiological aspects of dance movement therapy for psychiatric rehabilitation

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


While in the beginning of the twentieth century psychiatrists' therapeutic interventions mainly addressed one's psyche, using verbal psychoanalysis based on psychological theories, towards the end of the twentieth century and with the advancement of neuroscience, the biological approach to mental health took over, and most psychiatric interventions became pharmacological in nature, addressing one's neurophysiology and brain function. In recent years, an integrative approach of combining psychological with biological interventions is advocated for psychiatric rehabilitation. In their chapter, Wengrower and Bendel-Rozow address primarily the psychological approach to psychiatry and discuss how dance movement therapy (DMT) with psychiatric patients corresponds with this approach and approved to be effective. In my commentary, I propose an explanation and some examples for the neurophysiological mechanisms underlying DMT's methods and therapeutic effects, illustrating the effectiveness of DMT based on the principles of the biological and the integrative approaches to psychiatric rehabilitation. These underlying neurophysiological mechanisms include brain networks and mechanisms responsible for emotional processing and for the associations in the brain between certain proprioceptive input from the moving body and specific emotions, the mirror neurons and their contribution to empathy and understanding others' emotions, neurophysiological findings regarding therapist-patient interbrain coupling, and principles of the Polyvagal Theory as applied in DMT.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationArts Therapies in Psychiatric Rehabilitation
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
Number of pages4
ISBN (Electronic)9783030762087
ISBN (Print)9783030762070
StatePublished - 28 Jul 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2021. All rights reserved.


  • Biological psychiatry
  • Dance movement therapy
  • Emotional processing
  • Interbrain synchronization
  • Mirror neurons
  • Neurophysiology
  • Polyvagal theory
  • Proprioception

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine
  • General Psychology


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