Career Profile Dance Movement Therapist

Discover What it Takes to Become a Successful Dance Movement Therapist

Hispanic dancer practicing in studio
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Dance Movement Therapy, also known as dance therapy or movement therapy, is an exciting field of health therapy that provides emotional and physical support for clients and individuals. The American Dance Therapy Association (ADTA) defines dance/movement therapy as the use of movement and dance to promote social, cognitive and physical healing in a client.

As a professional dance movement therapist, you will help clients improve their total health and wellness by engaging them in dance and movement.

Some important elements of dance therapy focus on the following health categories:

  • Improving self-esteem. Dance and movement therapists help clients improve body image.
  • Develop strong communication skills and more effective social skills.
  • Help clients gain insight into the unhealthy patterns that lead to behavioral problems.
  • Assist with creating new options and coping mechanisms or healthy interventions and behaviors.

Dance therapists work closely with clients to develop treatments and goals that assist clients in leading a healthier, more proactive and fulfilling life.

Work Environment

A dance/movement therapist may work in many different environments, including a medical facility, rehabilitation center, drug treatment facility, or counseling and crisis center.

Other work environments may include schools, alternative healthcare facilities, wellness community centers or private dance studios and practices.

Some may freelance and work on call, or provide private counseling sessions to clients.

Educational Requirements

Dance therapists typically must acquire a Master's degree. If you are interested in a career as a dance therapist, you will probably have to complete at least two years of graduate level studies including extensive study in dance training.

The American Dance Therapy Association provides a list of approved Master's programs on their website. These programs typically include 700 hours of clinical fieldwork in dance therapy, dance movement therapy or DMT, and studies in human anatomy, kinesiology, and basic neuroscience.

Other accepted ways to pursue a career as a dance therapist include having a master's in psychology, social work, special education or a related field, and applying for registration as a DMT therapist.

Professional Designations for Dance Movement Therapists

Dance movement therapists may carry a Registered DMT (R-DMT) or a board-certified DMT (BC-DMT) to practice. Board certified dance movement therapists have more experience in the field, and may teach and supervise other practitioners, as well as treat patients as a therapist.

Characteristics of a Dance Therapist

Most dance therapists are passionate about the work they do. Dance therapy is not an explosive field but it is a growing field. Many statisticians expect that growth in the field of dance and movement therapy will come from the rapidly growing aging population.

The BLS expects growth to rise at a faster than average level, although not as high as some other health therapy fields.

Growth in schools among movement therapists may result from expansion of federally funded programs for disabled students. Dance therapists must possess compassion, patience, and empathy to relate to the students, adults and the elderly population that therapists work with.

Dance is a wonderful form of therapy, much like art and music therapy because it allows clients to express what is happening on the inside in unique and liberal ways. Dance therapy allows the therapist and patient to be creative about the way that therapy takes place.

Salary

Salary among dance/movement therapists depends on many factors including the experience of the dance therapist, the skills a therapist has, the job requirements, the hours worked, the employer, whether the dance therapist is a contractor or employee and the geographic area the dance therapist works in.

Professional dance/movement therapists typically receive high earnings because they require a graduate degree in dance/movement therapy. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the average median wage for Recreation Therapists which may include dance therapists in 2012 was $44,280 with top earners receiving over $67,000 annually.

Source:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition, Recreation Therapists, Accessed June 3, 2013. http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes291125.htm

ADTA General Questions. American Dance Therapy Association, 2013, Accessed Jun 8, 2013.

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