Dance is an ancient and modern form of healing. In this podcast, I talk with Michael Lerner from the Arts and Healing program at Commonweal about the power of dance and embodiment to heal. Dance has been used since ancient times to align humans with the cosmic energies of the elements (water, earth, fire, wind), the seasons (solstices, equinoxes), rites of passage (births, weddings, funerals); to harmonize individuals into the community, and to bring communities and generations together.

In more recent times, dance movement therapy has been used to help individuals access and express deep emotions, to heal from cancer and illness, to work through trauma, and for personal growth. As a national association, it was founded in 1966, and is gaining attention as a primary nonverbal psychotherapy, and in hospitals and clinics nationally and internationally.

As psychology becomes more inclusive of mind, body and spirit, and with the newest discoveries of the plasticity of the brain, people are discovering that movement helps them relax and change habitual patterns of behavior. Dance movement therapy brings together the body wisdom of somatic practices with the nonverbal use of imagery and creativity. These practices can be done under the supervision of a board certified dance movement therapist (BC-DMT), or as an individual practice to enhance embodied ways of knowing. Examples of these practices and applications can be found in the podcast at: (

About the Author

Ilene Serlin, Ph.D.

Ilene Serlin, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist and the founder and director of Union Street Health Associates and the Arts Medicine Program at California Pacific Medical Center.

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