Dance as a complex intervention in an acute mental health setting: a place ‘in-between’

Froggett, Lynn orcid iconORCID: 0000-0001-8406-6231 and Little, R.M (2012) Dance as a complex intervention in an acute mental health setting: a place ‘in-between’. British Journal Of Occupational Therapy, 75 (2). pp. 93-99.

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Introduction: There is little research on dance in acute mental health settings in the National Health Service. This study evaluated a dance programme in an acute setting. Occupational therapists collaborated with a professional dancer to facilitate the programme.
Method: The literature review revealed that studies on the benefits of dance tended to focus on clinical outcomes. This study adopted a mixed-method psychosocial approach. It used the Herth Hope Index with 11 service users. Fifteen interviews were conducted with service users. Five members of staff were interviewed and film-based data were also utilised. Interpretation panels were used to analyse and triangulate findings.
Findings: The study found that the value of the dance programme was related to its ‘in-between’ status. Dance connected the inner and outer experience of service users by engaging the creative imagination and translating it into movement. It also contributed to a hopeful but realistic sense of connection between mind and body and to social groups inside and outside the hospital.
Conclusion: Dance is a complex intervention, which provides an appropriate challenge for service users in acute mental health settings while contributing to a sense of biopsychosocial integration. As such, it has much to offer contemporary occupational therapy.

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