Where do Dance/Movement Therapists Work? What Do They Do?

Dance/Movement Therapists Wear Many Different Hats

Dance/movement therapists work in a variety of settings with varying populations and, often, they wear many different hats. Dance/movement therapy (DMT) has been utilized since its inception in the 1940’s to promote healing in people diagnosed with mental illness and physical disabilities.  When the field was emerging, many dance/movement therapists started working in mental health and psychiatric facilities. Since then, DMT has grown and expanded into new places and spaces.

Dance/movement therapy is a branch of the creative arts therapy field. Those drawn to this field are typically creative and determined. These trained individuals use their creativity and pioneering spirits to move dance/movement therapy into the professional world.


Where is Dance/Movement Therapy Practiced?

Dance/movement therapy is practiced in mental health and psychiatric facilities; it is also found in prisons, schools, nursing homes, eating disorder clinics, crisis centers, military facilities, private practices, hospices, forensic settings, and Alzheimer’s/dementia care facilities. Dance/movement therapy is also facilitated in wellness centers, hospitals, physical rehabilitation centers, preschools, and adolescent day treatment centers.


Who Do Dance/Movement Therapists Work With?

In addition to working in a variety of settings, dance/movement therapists work with people who deal with a variety of conditions. These conditions include mental health diagnoses such as:

They also work with people who are dealing with medical conditions including:

Dance/movement therapists work with people of all ages, from infancy through geriatrics. Individuals who require extra support, who desire a deeper expression, or who are seeking a more embodied approach can locate a dance/movement therapist who is willing and able to work with them in private practice or in group therapy sessions.


What Do Dance/Movement Therapists Do?

The specifics of each dance/movement therapist’s job depends on the population they work with and the setting. Generally, they are required to do a variety of tasks including scheduling and programming, leading art groups, co-facilitating with other clinicians, and creating psycho-educational groups. Clinical work may consist of meeting with clients in individual, group, couple, or family treatment sessions. they use movement as the primary medium to address psychosocial goals and concerns.

Examples of issues addressed in a dance/movement therapy session include improving self-esteem and body image; developing effective communication skills; learning to regulate emotions; and expanding movement vocabulary in order to gain insight and create new ways of engaging in problem-solving.

Dance/movement therapists clinically assess clients using nonverbal and verbal methods, create treatment plans, and document clinical progress notes. Usually, they work as part of a multi-disciplinary team, collaborating with a variety of different clinicians with the intention of providing the best treatment possible. Additionally, dance/movement therapists are known for pioneering and bringing DMT practice into new places. This requires educating the clients, administrators, and co-workers about the field.

It is the amazing creativity, determination, and pioneering spirit that allows dance/movement therapists to persevere in bringing this practice into places that may benefit. At times it is challenging, but with a loving heart and a fierce determination, dance/movement therapists have been able to expand traditional boundaries and continue to do so in unique and innovative ways.

Learn More about Dance/Movement Therapy


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