Alternative Medicine Movement

As a way to heal the body, movement therapy offers many possibilities. Learn about body movement therapy, a wide range of Eastern and Western movement-based approaches used to promote physical, mental, emotional and spiritual wellbeing.

Somatic Movement Therapies

The overall premise of somatic movement therapies is that using your body and your muscles improves overall body function. Somatic movement therapies are gentle processes that help you become more aware of your body. With these techniques, you may be able to recognize dysfunctional habits of perception, posture and movement, as well as learn other ways to relieve bodily pain.

In this somatic approach to the body, movement therapy may include the following techniques:

  • The Alexander Technique uses hands-on guidance and movement to teach you how to use the appropriate amount of effort for a particular activity.
  • During Body-Mind Centering®, you explore personal movement and use developmental movement patterns to change dysfunctional movement habits for physical, emotional and cognitive wellbeing.
  • Both Hanna Somatic Education® and the Feldenkrais Method® use gentle movements that work through the nervous system to improve movement and function.
  • Trager Psychophysical Integration involves a series of gentle, rhythmic rocking movements to the joints by a Trager practitioner and self-care exercises that support proper body movement.

Other somatic movement therapies include continuum movement, eutony, Kinetic Awareness® and sensory awareness.

Eastern Movement Therapies

The three best known Eastern approaches to body movement therapy are:

  • Qigong, which combines gentle physical movements, mental focus and deep breathing.
  • Tai chi, which uses slow, gentle movements and deep breathing.
  • Yoga.
  • Dance/Movement Therapy

Dance/movement therapy uses movement in a psychotherapy context to help clients become more integrated emotionally, mentally, physically and socially.

A person’s thoughts, attitudes and feelings affect body movements, and vice versa. Dance/movement therapy uses this mind-body connection to address developmental, medical, social, physical and psychological issues through physical movement.

Dance/movement therapists have a minimum of a master’s degree in dance/movement therapy. They work in many different settings, including:

  • Day care centers
  • Health promotion programs
  • Hospitals
  • Mental health facilities
  • Nursing homes
  • Prisons
  • Private practices
  • Schools.

Other Types of Body Movement Therapy

Some types of exercise may also be considered movement therapies, such as Pilates, which harnesses physical exercise to strengthen and build muscle control. However, a distinction between exercise therapy and body movement therapy is that the core principle of movement therapy is awareness, so only exercise that cultivates awareness can appropriately be called movement therapy.


American Dance Therapy Association. (n.d.) What is dance/movement therapy? Retrieved August 27, 2010, from

International Somatic Movement Education