How Can Dance Movement Therapy Be Used to Treat Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?

Everyone knows that dance can be a fun and social way to break a sweat and burn off some steam. But did you know that dance can also be a powerful form of therapy? It’s true. Researchers and scholars are documenting benefits of dance movement therapy (DMT) for a variety of physical and mental health conditions, including Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS).

Dance Movement Therapy: A Brief Overview

Before delving into the effects of DMT on CFS, it’s vital to understand what dance movement therapy entails. DMT is a type of psychotherapy that uses movement, which is inherently a language of its own, to promote emotional, social, cognitive, and physical integration of individuals. It’s based on the principle that mind and body are interrelated.

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DMT is practiced in mental health, rehabilitation, medical, educational, and forensic settings, and in nursing homes, day care centers, disease prevention, and health promotion programs. Services are offered to individuals, couples, families, and groups.

Several studies available on PubMed and Crossref have shown the benefits of DMT in various health issues. These include depression, physical pain, and chronic conditions, which will be highlighted in the following sections.

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Dance Movement Therapy for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

CFS is a debilitating disorder characterized by extreme fatigue or tiredness that doesn’t go away with rest and can’t be explained by an underlying medical condition. The severity of CFS varies from one person to another, but it can significantly impact one’s quality of life, making even simple activities hard to accomplish.

A review of scholarly studies shows promising results for the use of DMT in treating CFS. One study published in the PubMed database involved a group of participants suffering from CFS. The intervention consisted of a 12-week program of DMT. The results showed significant improvements in physical function and a reduction in perceived fatigue among the participants.

A Crossref study carried out a DMT intervention with another group of CFS participants. The study demonstrated a significant decrease in depression and pain symptoms, which often accompany CFS.

The Healing Power of Movement

The human body is designed for movement. The physical aspect of dancing stimulates the body, increases blood flow, and encourages the production of endorphins, our natural painkillers.

In DMT, the focus is not on the aesthetic of the dance or the correctness of the steps, but on the experience of movement itself. This allows individuals to explore their range of movement in a safe and supportive environment, helping them reclaim their bodies from the grip of chronic fatigue and pain.

Furthermore, dancing in a group setting can help reduce feelings of isolation often experienced by those with chronic illnesses. It provides a sense of community, a shared experience, and the opportunity for emotional expression and understanding.

The Evidence: Scholarly Review and Studies

There is a growing body of evidence supporting the therapeutic use of dance for chronic conditions. Many of these studies have been published in full in reputable scholarly databases such as PubMed and Crossref.

For example, a doi-indexed study titled "The Effectiveness of Dance Interventions to Improve Older Adults’ Health: A Systematic Literature Review," found that dance can improve physical health, mental health, and quality of life among older adults. Another review titled "Dance for Adults With Fibromyalgia—What Do We Know About It? Chronological Narrative Literature Review," found that the majority of studies reported a reduction in pain and improvements in quality of life.

These reviews and studies underline the potential efficacy of DMT as a non-pharmacological intervention for chronic conditions, including CFS. They offer hope and a new perspective to those seeking to manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life.

How to Apply Dance Movement Therapy

While DMT should ideally be conducted by a trained therapist, there are ways to incorporate its principles into daily life. Start with gentle movements and gradually increase your range as your comfort level enhances. You could use music that lifts your spirits, and don’t worry about how you look. Instead, focus on how the movement feels in your body.

Remember, DMT is not about perfecting a routine. It’s about expressing yourself through movement and experiencing the joy and freedom that comes with it. Dancing can be a powerful way to reconnect with your body and reclaim your power from chronic fatigue syndrome.

The concept of DMT is still fairly new, but it’s gaining acknowledgment within the medical community. As more studies are conducted and published, the full potential of this powerful therapy may be revealed.

Dance Movement Therapy Applied to Other Chronic Conditions

Apart from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Dance Movement Therapy (DMT) has shown promising results in managing other chronic conditions. According to a Google Scholar database, DMT has been used as an intervention for chronic primary conditions like breast cancer and fibromyalgia.

In a Crossref Full Text Google study, breast cancer patients who were involved in a DMT program experienced significant improvements in their emotional well-being and body image. They reported feeling more confident and comfortable with their bodies and experienced reduced stress and anxiety levels. DMT provided a safe space for them to express their emotions through movement, helping them process their experiences during their journey with cancer.

In the case of fibromyalgia, a chronic pain condition characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain and fatigue, research available in the doi PubMed database has shown the potential benefits of DMT. A randomized controlled trial involving a control group and a group that underwent DMT sessions showed a significant decrease in pain levels and enhanced quality of life in the DMT group. The participants also reported improvements in sleep quality and physical function.

These studies provide strong evidence in favor of DMT as an effective, non-pharmacological intervention for chronic conditions. It is not limited to managing CFS alone but extends to various other disorders and ailments affecting the physical and mental well-being of individuals.


The field of Dance Movement Therapy is making strides as an effective treatment for various chronic conditions. As highlighted by the studies available on databases such as PubMed Abstract, Crossref Abstract, and doi Crossref, the power of movement and dance holds potential in managing and improving conditions like Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, breast cancer, and fibromyalgia.

Individuals living with these conditions often experience chronic pain, reduced physical function, and decreased quality of life. The positive outcome measures from the DMT intervention offer hope and a new perspective. The therapy focuses on the individual’s intrinsic capacity for dance and movement, nudging them towards emotional expression, physical vitality, and social connection.

In this therapy, the emphasis is not on the choreography but on allowing the body to move naturally, influencing both the body and mind positively. It encourages self-expression and provides a supportive environment for individuals to explore and reclaim their bodies.

While we await more randomized controlled trials and meta-analysis to fully comprehend the potential of DMT, the existing research strongly suggests its efficacy in improving the quality of life among chronic condition patients. The future of DMT looks promising, with growing recognition within the medical community and an expanding body of research. Meanwhile, individuals can begin to explore the joy of movement and dance in their own homes, equipped with the understanding that their body has the capacity to heal, move, and express freely.