The Effects of Dance/ Movement Therapy on Developing Body Attitude and Body Image in subjects with Disablity, with special emphasis on Autism and Pervasive Developmental Disorders.

Dr. Mitul Sengupta, Psychologist, Dance Therapy Practitioner, Professional International Member ADTA

The world of disability is very interesting, if we want to see their world in a different eye and approach. The combinations of free and bound movement in their world creates new approaches in life and habituating in this world in a differently abled way. Movement therapy is one such possibility where it tries to smoothen those areas where there is a glitch and can be handled in a different way. The world of disability, be it Mental Retardation, Cerebral Palsy, Physical Disability, or Pervasive Developmental Disorders, Movement therapy addresses each of this world in its finest and newest ways and approaches.

Body & Mind Connectivity is the most important part of any Dance/Movement therapy Session. Whether it’s a ‘normal body’ or ‘conflicted body’, any – body aims at realising the connectivity between movement and mind in order to express for better socialisation and communication. (Clay et al, 2005). In this context, the two concepts which directly relate to the world of disability is developing Body Image and Body attitude of person’s with Disability.

Body Image can be defined as “ a concept pertaining to the conscious representation of one’s body in the mind”(Breaky, 1997). It has three components, Body Knowledge, Body Fantasies, Body Concept. ((Pylvänäinen, 2003).

Body Attitude, on the other hand, is “ how one presents oneself, socially, emotionally or through mutual communication.“(Sengupta et al 2011).  Dance/ Movement therapy connects to these areas directly through connecting in areas like, Body Alignment, Centrality, Balance, Sensation, Images and Feelings. (Cohan R, 1995). DMT for Disability tries to connect to these areas with special emphasis on direct body connectivity through various techniques dealing with areas like sensory integration, and areas, which connects with Triad of Impairment that is Socialisation, Communication and Flexibility.



DMT connects sensorimotor level of experience – perceptions through sensory systems (Movements related to sensitising the spine and other areas of the body). It connects the Boundary dimension skin; the limit between inside and outside of the body (Through works related to touch and contact). DMT reaches the personal and interpersonal space – the personal use of space, reflecting interactions with object. (Connecting to objects, person and imitation through movement). The dynamic dimension – energetic, expressive aspect of the body image; dynamic, kinetic qualities of feelings which correspond to momentary changes in feeling states, through use of Flow effort in movement- addresses the movement qualities through DMT.


DMT addresses the following areas ,Posture, Gesture , Centrality, Alignment, Balance (Cohan.R 1950) which is the core concept to understand self as a body and its being in the environment.

Based on Laban Movement Analysis principles, the DMT sessions are planned in a way that directly connects the body, gives sensation for effort flow, prepares the body for creating shapes though sensitisation and connect with space either internal or external.


DMT addresses Body – Mind Connectivity for Developmental Disability. Subjects with Developmental Disability may lack in verbal communication skill, where Movement Therapy acts as a tool for communication.DMT focuses on Holding the Environment which means – creating an environment where the subject feels free and safe expressing themselves.The skills in DMT helps to develop a condition of Kinesthetic Empathy and Mirroring (Imitation) for positive DMT conditions with the client.


DMT prepares concept of body and its existence in space. It sensitizes the body, develops a feeling of security and existence. It also develops awareness & coordination, improves Self Esteem which develops Social Interaction and Communication.

Ways to Develop Body Attitude and Body Image through techniques & Practice of DMT (Practical Session)

  • Sensitizing the body
  • Warm up through sensitization
  • Initiating movement through guided movement patterns
  • Symbolism
  • Creating and initiating guided imagery in the body.

KEY WORDS: Dance/ Movement Therapy, Body Attitude, Body Image, Practice of D/MT


American Psychiatric Association (2000). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (4th ed., text revision.). Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association

Dittmer et al, Body Image and Self-Esteem Among Adolescent Girls: Testing the Influence of Sociocultural Factors, JOURNAL OF RESEARCH ON ADOLESCENCE, 15(4), 451–477 Copyright r 2005, Society for Research on Adolescence

Pylvänäinen, P; Body Image: A Tripartite Model for Use in Dance/Movement Therapy, American Journal of Dance Therapy (2003) 25: 39.

Sengupta. M; 2013, Body Attitude and Socialization in Autism- An experimental study with Dance /Movement therapy, Indian Journal of Developmental Disability, ISSN-23197951, Vol- 1, Indian Institute of Psychology.

Body Image: A Handbook of Theory, Research, and Clinical PracticeBy Thomas F. Cash; Thomas Pruzinsky, 2002.



Dr. Mitul Sengupta is an Artistic Director Ballygunge Rhythmosaic School and Dance Institute, Guest Lecturer, Rabindrabharati University.



  • Completed her Masters in Psychology, from Department of psychology, University of Calcutta in 2005.
  • Was selected for the post of Research Scholar in University of Calcutta 2007-2009 for working under UGC project “effect of DMT and sensory integration on neurophisiological perspective in autism” – a psycho biological approach under the guidance of Prof. Mallika Bannerjee.
  • Completed her PhD in Psychology from University of Calcutta allied Dance Movement Therapy, “EFFECT OF DMT on AUTISM – A PSYCHOBIOLOGICAL APPROACH”.in 2011 under the guidance of Dr. Mallika Bannerjee.
  • Learned the theories, techniques and definitives of Dance Movemnet Therapy under Mr. Shambik Ghose, Grad. Hong Kong Academy For Performing Arts , (Hong Kong), Scholar Offjazz Dance Academy, Nice, France, Movement Practitioner and Analyst since 2005-2011.
  • Worked a movement analyst and practitioner with autism in Pradip Center For Autism Management since 2005- 2012.


  • 25 years training in Kathak dance ( Indian Classical Dance)
  • 10 years training in Classical Ballet, Jazz Dance, Contemporary Dance, Tap Dance.
  • Performed all over the world as a professional artist and gained experience in the filed of dance.


  • Recipient of National Nrityo Shiromani Award 2015
  • National Scholar in Kathak Dance from Ministry of Culture, Govt. of India
  • Empanelled Artist of Indian Council For Cultural Relations, India
  • Empanelled artist of Eastern Zonal Cultural Center, West Bengal, India
  • Empanelled Artist of Sangeet Natak Academy, Govt. of India
  • Fellow in Kathak Dance from Sanskritti Kalakritti Foundation, New Delhi, India


  • 2015- CENTENARY CONFERENCE ON PSYCHOLOGY, UNIVERSIITY OF CALCUTTA, The Effect of Dance/Movement Therapy on Autism with various levels and categories, on developing Body Attitude and Body Image in the selected subjects. – Dr. Mitul Sengupta
  • 2011 – Knowledge Workshop organized by National Trust, For Welfare of Person with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disabilities, – Lecture on Dance Movement Therapy on Autism, By Dr. Mitul Sengupta
  • 2009 – National Seminar on Emerging Issues in Disability Studies in India, By Indira Gandhi Open University “Focus of Dance Movement Therapy on Disability”. By Dr. Mitul Sengupta
  • 2006 – 4th International SIVUS Conference on Developmental Disability: ” Dance Therapy on autism”, by Mitul Sengupta, Dept. of psychology, University of Calcutta, organised by Shelter Bhadreswar Hooghly, Pradip Center for Autism Management, Kolkata, Bikashayan, Kolkata.
  • National Conference on Applied Psychology : “The Effect of Dance Movement Therapy on Autism – A case Study”, by Mitul Sengupta and Mallika Banerjee, Dept. of Psychology, University of Calcutta, Sponsored by U.G.C and Department of Science and Technology, Govt. of West Bengal.
  • Knowledge Workshop of Dance Movement therapy at OFFER, Kolkata, 2013.
  • Centenary Conference on Psychology by Dept of Psychology, University of Calcutta, 2015
  • CMTAI Workshop at Pune, 2016.

TEACHING EXPERIENCE: (in Dance Movement Therapy)

  • Worked as Course Coordinator and Faculty (Department of Dance Movement Therapy) in Pradip Center For Autism Management from 2009 – 2014.
  • Guest Lecturer, Rabindrabharati Univeristy, Performing Arts Therapeutic Section.
  • Examiner of Choreography, Rabindrabharati University from 2012.

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