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Jive to Thrive!

Written by: Mary West, Music Therapy Intern

We as music therapists always talk about how helpful music is to individuals who have been diagnosed with cancer. Most of the time we hear about how it “improves quality of life” (Pichler & Pichler) and its “aid in the physiological, psychological and emotional integration of the individual during the treatment of an illness or disability” (Pichler & Pichler). But what happens when we add some jive or movement into our treatment plans? 

There isn’t too much research into this thinking but from what there is we can see that adding movements into our treatment has many benefits. Most of the time when we think of movement in association with music it's often assumed that we mean playing an instrument rather than movement “as expressive movement for its own sake” (Hibben). This looks different in different situations. Some people use movement in the way of “a child’s natural body movements (as) a means of expressing music” (Hibben). Looking at it this way shows an encouragement of “emotional expression and affective involvement” (Hibben). This means that if we choose to use our clients' natural body movements in conjunction with our music, we encourage them to express themselves and increase their overall involvement in not only music but in their environment around them. This is one of the main benefits that we see when adding in movement to our treatments plan.

We can also see an aid into other specific areas such as “reality, reality testing, emotional expression, perceptual reception and interpersonal relationships” (Hibben). In most of our clients we see struggles in these areas so adding in movement, even as simple as adding in a freeze dance, we will see even more improvement than we already see.

Just like music, dance/ movement is a way of communicating when the words might be difficult to find. It is a skill that we are naturally born with, so rather than seeing it as just something we can do, let's use it to build our therapeutic relationships with our clients and allow them another way to express themselves.

As an added benefit it's just fun and you can’t mess up when it's your emotions you are expressing. So, let's jive to thrive!


 4+ Thousand Children dance clipart royalty-free images, stock photos & Pictures. Shutterstock. (n.d.). 

Hibben, J. K. (1984). Movement as musical expression in a music therapy setting. Music Therapy, 4(1), 91–97.

Pichler, A., & Pichler, M. (2014). Music therapy in cancer patients: Fact or fiction? Future Oncology, 10(15), 2409–2411.

Ridkous, M., Syntika, Nosyrevy, Viyadaistock, Studio, C., Lemono, ONYXprj, TopVectors, A-Digit, Kurbatova, O., Garkusha, T., pijama61, Nuranvectorgirl, Eobrazy, Tiekiober, ChrisGorgio, KanKhem, briddy_, Appleuzr, … Topaz777. (n.d.). Istock. iStock.

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