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Can You Dance Internet Addiction Away?

Dance therapy can be used to treat Internet and gaming addiction, believes an institute in China.

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Dancers at the Chinese dance therapy
institute, Inspirees. Photo via

By May Wilkerson

01/08/13

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Can you shimmy, salsa or boogie your way out of an addiction? According to trainers at Inspirees, a dance therapy institute in the Chaoyang district of China, a psychotherapeutic technique founded on dance and movement can help treat Internet and gaming addiction. The idea is to teach awareness of the body, encouraging the release of repressed emotion and tension through physical movement. It "works on the patient's inner-self rather than projecting external form," says Zhang Yi, 43, a therapist at Inspirees. Students learn breathing techniques and movements—first in silence and later accompanied by music. After a dance session, they answer questions about their feelings and form "feeling sculptures" with their bodies. Yi says the technique can help addicts break patterns of compulsive, repetitious behavior, allowing them to confront underlying emotional issues.

Dance therapy reportedly helped Xiao Wen, a 17-year-old student who was grappling with Internet addiction and compulsive gaming. He "fell into playing video games and spent most of his evenings in Internet bars," says Song, a family friend of Wen's. "He was resentful and rebellious. He did not want to cooperate and refused to talk to his parents." Song says that undergoing therapy sessions at Inspirees has improved Wen's confidence and helped him to focus on his schoolwork—although he hasn't entirely recovered from his Internet dependence, and continues to play online games. "Xiao is now busy studying and hasn't needed therapy for a while," says Song. "He still loves those video games, just not as compulsively as before." Internet and gaming addiction are pervasive problems in China, despite government attempts to regulate access to online games. 

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