As I have mentioned briefly in one of my past blog posts, I have officially completed and submitted my thesis. This is traditionally the last step when receiving your master’s degree in dance/movement therapy, and is the case for Columbia College’s Dance/Movement Therapy & Counseling department (now known as the Department of Creative Arts Therapy). However, after the final submission there is a lot of paperwork and “stuff” to do before it’s actually all said and done. The good news is, as of June 25th my graduate degree has posted. And that’s it, folks, it’s all over- I have officially become a dance therapist. No longer am I an “emerging dance therapist,” as I lovingly called myself, but a dance therapist. An unemployed dance therapist, but one nonetheless.
Between the time of my thesis submission and receiving my confirmation e-mail from the Graduate Office, I’ve had some time to take a break from dance/movement therapy. I did some traveling, I got to visit my family in Michigan, I’ve been making money at the Wicker Park bar I work at, and I’ve had some time to work on artistic projects. Life has been nice. And easy. Nice and easy are not necessarily words I’d associate with the work of a dance/movement therapist, at least not in my personal experience.
In the time between my thesis submission and receiving my confirmation e-mail from the Graduate Office, I’ve anticipated the next steps in my path as a dance/movement therapist. The first step, I suppose, would be to register as a dance therapist with the ADTA (not to mention update my membership, which expired a few days ago). Next, I should probably update my resume and cover letter. And finally, I should start looking for jobs, which I am slightly dreading. When I started my education to become a dance/movement therapist I knew this aspect of the career would be difficult. Not completely un-doable, but hard. I am lucky that I live in a city where dance/movement therapy is prominent and has a supportive community. If not, I imagine the job search would be much more difficult- I’d probably have to explain to every employer what the heck dance therapy is anyway. Although my job search has narrowed, as I have decided to stay in Chicago one more year, my feeling towards job hunting remains the same.
And it kind of make makes want to give up the whole damn thing.
I’ve had feelings like this two times in the past. The first time I had feelings of quitting this whole dance/movement therapy gig was before I even started graduate school. As I sat in a sea of school applications I had the thought of just stopping it all in that moment, go into a much easier, a more well-known field, say social work. Why go through all this trouble to study something you’ll end up having to explain to everybody for the rest of your life? Because I loved it and I was passionate about using art as a way to help heal others.
The second time these feelings occurred was between my first and second year of graduate school. My cohort and I were taking Methods of Group Therapy and I am almost positive more than a few of us talked about quitting school, myself included. At the point I hated dance therapy, wanted to throw in the towel, and serve tables and dance the rest of my life. Dance/movement therapy was hard, at least a lot harder than some of the other options of what I could do with my life. Luckily the instructor of the course (the lovely Kris Larsen) emphasized with these feelings, he even said that he had felt that way too, but he knew there was a reason why we chose this work. That this work fed us in a way that other careers would not.
As I sit with myself, with where I am in my life, I hear Kris’ words resound in my head. That is WHY I chose to follow this career path. I knew that this path would feed my dancer self, my intellectual self, and my healer self. Only dance/movement therapy could do this in a way I’d find satisfying. So although I feel a bit uncomfortable about jumping into the unknown of finding a job, I have to remember why it is I started down this path to begin with. It’ll all fall into place, the way it’s supposed to.