The following study was to assess the effectiveness of Rhythmic Movement Therapy (RMT) in improving Subjective Well-Being (SWB) in a non-clinical population. Subjective Well-Being is defined as a person’s declared well-being based on their perceived satisfaction with life or happiness. According to the literature review, body-oriented interventions are still in the early stages for demonstrating increases in SWB. RMT is defined as a psychological intervention that is rooted in body-oriented psychotherapy, dance movement psychotherapy, and rhythmic gymnastics. In the research design, subjects were divided into a low to medium SWB level group and a high SWB level group. Group 1 was randomly assigned to 10 RMT groups and 5 control groups. The RMT intervention consisted of 16 once-a-week sessions of 45-50 minutes. Several questionnaires were collected from 273 subjects. The questionnaires that were used to assess SWB were: the Integral Index of Social Well-Being (IISW), Personal Orientation Inventory, the General Locus of Control Scale of the Locus of Control Inventory (LOC), the Neuroticism Scale from the Eysenck Personality Inventory, the Toronto Alexithymia Scale, the Body Image Test, the Personal Perfectionism Scale (PPS), the Sociotropy Scale of the Personal Style Inventory, and the Symbol Personality Test. Results indicated improvement in SWB level in subjects from the RMT group compared to the subjects of the control groups.
What I liked about the study is that based on all of the personality variables used to measure SWB, there were significant associations between SWB and neuroticism, high self-directedness, external locus of control, low levels of alexithymia, low body image dissatisfaction, low sociotropy and low perfectionism. In this case, I felt the researcher operationalized the concept of SWB quite well. However, I thought that it would have been useful to provide test-retest reliability and alpha coefficients for all tests used in the study in order for readers to understand why such instruments were selected. I also appreciated that the researcher demonstrated all of the statistical analyses performed on the data and that the data demonstrated improvements that were statistically significant between all variables. The researcher mentioned that there were some limitations to the study such as providing only a partial explanation for the influence of personality on SWB; that the statistics used do not prove causality; that the IISW test did not include a family domain which SWB studies argue is one of the most important domains; the study sample is small; and that the effectiveness of RMT is not compared to other methods of treatment.
What is significant about this study for the field of body psychotherapy is that body-oriented therapy, such as RMT, can positively influence one’s level of happiness in life and that this is now being demonstrated by research. I appreciate that the author mentions not only do such interventions increase SWB at individual levels, but such interventions stimulate the development of increasing SWB at public policy levels. I feel that our field needs more studies that show the effectiveness of body-oriented therapies and as the author recommends, that such interventions be compared to other therapies and that longer studies with follow-ups are needed to better assess the effectiveness of treatments. I truly believe that body-oriented therapy is on its way to becoming the standard of doing therapy where the body is seen as a necessary component to treatment for psychological recovery and well-being. As Jack Lee Rosenberg stated years ago, it will one day be “unethical to do therapy without a somatic perspective” (as cited in Caldwell, 1997, p. 6).
Caldwell, C. (1997). Getting in touch: The guide to new body-centered therapies. Wheaton, IL: Quest Books.
Sharon Stopforth, MSW, RSW has been a counselor for 15 years specializing in anxiety, depression, addiction, abuse and trauma. Sharon is a Certified Integrative Body Psychotherapy practitioner and is currently working on her Ph.D. to further research in the field of body psychotherapy.