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gancho | October 16, 2019

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Tango Therapy – Tango is for men

Tango Therapy – Tango is for men


Social Skills Tango Therapy in the judicial psychiatric hospital of Naples, in the male department in Secondigliano.

“Tango is for men”

Tango arose as an introvert and popular dance that was practiced just by men; after many years it experienced a change in its appearance and got more elegant and stylised. Tango is the outcome of a mixture of different styles that are danced by different populations; during its creation many styles, that have their origins in at least three continents (America, Africa, Europe), intervened.

Why “Tango-therapy”? Compared to other dances, Argentine Tango is characterized by an introspective and intimate aspect with a particular focus on the connection with the dance partner the other dancers. Recent studies proved that Tango represents a source of huge benefits for the psychosis therapy. It can mitigate and reduce the symptoms of anxiety and depression and also help efficiently during the Parkinson’s and the Alzheimer’s Diseases therapies.



The project foresees an activity to strengthen the nonverbal communication competence, interpreted as the capacity to produce and understand the messages passed on during the interaction.

Particular attention is placed on the therapeutic profile of Tango, as an instrument to treat different disorders as well as an alternative path for the research of physical, psychic and spiritual well-being.

The aim of the project is to offer a free space for communication, where the whole setting is going to be good for the psychic-physical well-being of the patients. The therapeutic activity seeks to improve and reactivate the memory, the attention and the concentration, in order to provide the possibility to lessen tensions, anxiety and stress, and therefore to reduce states of agitation and negative emotional conditions. The protected location can cause the right atmosphere to develop a good (therapeutic and empathic) relationship with the therapist, a relationship that is able to stimulate the externalisation of individual feelings in order to share them and to communicate with the group. All this with the aim to lead the patients to a “presence” which can motivate and stimulate them actively during the workshop.

The experience was truly educational for me, on the human as well the professional level, the exchange of information, emotions and thoughts that happened between me and my patients was a continuous incentive for me to improve myself and to improve the activity with time.

The contest of the prison is not a simple one, neither for the patients nor for the guards who are working there. Hostility and problems with the institutions are happening every day. Nevertheless, the willpower to carry out a high quality work with accuracy and awareness helped me to continue following my goals. By doing so I achieved many satisfactions. The work started in June 2014 and ended in September/October 2015. Afterwards, because of the termination of my employment contract, I haven’t had the chance to see my patients again.

In the end, I think that the Tango-therapy has made it possible to create a protected therapeutic setting and a good relational group structure, thanks to the work of the guard, based on the respect, the patient waiting, the acceptance and the listening.


Thanks to dancing we have created a stable group relationship, overcoming the contact inhibitions of being together playing games and that we overcame the general stigma of dancing between only men. Beyond the workshops it was possible to note a cohesion between the participants in the respective sections. In this way, new relationships were created that are characterised by friendship and mutual respect.

We have remarkably improved the time management. Furthermore, the patients who participated in the workshops showed clear improvements in the management of the common and private area of their rooms, showed to be able to take care of themselves and in some cases we managed to partially reduce the consumption of cigarettes, the main activity in the detention framework to make time pass, to exchange things and to relate with others.


In the end, however, this project seems to sustain the use of the Social Skills Tango Therapy in groups of patients with serious mental disorders and also in hospital and/or detention settings with cases of short/middle recovery.


Luca Autiero


photo credit: Luca

Cover photo: / Marta Kossakowska

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