Joyful Connections: Dance Thereapy for People with Dementia

By Beth Liebowitz, Program Director  |  May 7, 2019

People are living longer and our population of elder adults is expanding. As a result, it’s become imperative to explore therapies that are effective in assisting with dementia, memory loss and related issues that older people face.  The Greens at Greenwich is proactive in implementing creative arts therapies with its residents and has seen the benefits firsthand.


Beth Liebowitz, Program Director and Dance Therapist at The Greens Greenwich, was recently interviewed on “Darby and Friends” a show on WGCH radio in Greenwich.  Beth explained her approach and outcomes of dance therapy which she implements daily with residents at The Greens.


“Everyone with dementia is unique so there are different pathways to connect with each person. It seems that no matter who the person is, when they’re dancing, they socialize, experience more joy and have fun. It’s something innate and something we try to tap into to better communicate with each other,” says Beth. “Many of our residents, who have trouble with language and making social connections, dance and their worlds become three dimensional, more joyful and more connected.”

The American Dance Therapy Association (ADTA) defines Dance/Movement Therapy as the psychotherapeutic use of movement to promote emotional, social, cognitive, spiritual and physical integration of the individual.


Beth uses the acronym:  JOD- Joy of Dance. She often stresses that her goal is to help find the JOD for residents.  She taps into the joy, at some level, for every resident and finds that it creates an environment that draws people in and promotes inclusion.


“Dancing is contagious so even if they’re initially resistant, many residents will come around and get involved at some point,” according to Beth.  “We start where they are- we don’t force anyone to participate but encourage and lead by example. Dementia can be such an isolating diagnosis so it’s about being part of something.”


Beth facilitates multiple dance therapy groups at The Greens each week that include 15-20 people ages 55 to 100.


As a leader in the use of creative arts therapies as interventions in memory impairment, The Greens at Greenwich uses therapies including drama therapy, art therapy and music therapy.  The Greens Executive Director, Maria Scaros, is a drama therapist who is recognized nationally as a pioneer in creative arts therapy and is a mentor and speaker in her field.

Resident, Virginia dancing in our garden

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