Juggling the personal and professional aspects of being a dance/movement therapist.

I don’t know what it is about this time of year, but February is traditionally always a busy month for me.  Something about February always feels overwhelmingly busy, and February 2015 is no different.  Winter is the time of year that I am pushed to the limits of my ability to juggle all of which is happening in my life.  This particular winter,  I’ve had to tease apart the personal and professional aspects of myself in hopes to differentiate them.  My life is challenging me to decide when each part of myself needs my attention.

I know that in previous blog posts I have said that becoming a dance/movement therapist has influenced the woman I am today.  It’s true- becoming a dance/movement therapist has changed the way I see the world.  While this is beautiful thinking it is also dangerous thinking that can lend way to assimilation of my professional and personal identities.  Professionally, my career as a dance/movement therapist is busy.  Each day I lead at least three dance/movement therapy (DMT) groups, complete necessary paperwork, and attend team meetings with other mental health professionals.  Aside from the day-to-day work, I also complete supervision hours both for my personal sanity and to achieve Board Certificate- Dance/Movement Therapist (BC-DMT) status.  Personally, I am busy dancing with a Chicago dance company, taking dance classes, attempting to have a social life, and as of summer, planning a wedding.  You can see how this adds up and makes for a busy life.

I must admit that I am a person with a proclivity for busy-ness (my family and friends know this about me).  I enjoy being busy.  I will give myself credit and say that I do pretty well at setting the boundaries between my personal and professional life within my busy lifestyle.  As in, I do not usually divulge about my personal life while I am in the professional setting, and of course I respect confidentiality when speaking to friends about my professional work.  What has become difficult in the past few months, however, is balancing my time and facing the reality that there are only twenty four hours in a day, and I’m not twenty-one anymore.  Some days I feel tired, and some days I feel overwhelmed.

Despite my overall energy level and the reality of time, there are also other components at play when juggling between my personal and professional life.  Take money, for example.  It’s no secret that entry-level DMT positions are usually low paying.  Often times these jobs are located in bigger cities where the cost of living is high.  I’ll also inform you that graduate loan payments certainly eat away at your paychecks.  Personally, I have a second job on top of all that I do to help supplement my income.  There is also the reality of personal happiness posed against the reality of a low paying job.  What happens when a better paying position comes a long and I am faced with an opportunity to leave the agency I currently work for, an agency where I believe in my work as a dance/movement therapist?  How do I balance the personal and professional aspects of myself when navigating this scenario?  I love my job but I need to pay my bills.

I have also been thinking a lot about the delicate game of when to put what aspect of my life first, wondering what deserves my attention and when.  Sometimes I feel the pressure to do more Continuing Education Credits (CEs), become a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), attend a seminar, achieve an extra certificate in this or that.  There is something about the DMT culture that breeds pressure to become an expert in all things related to counseling, psychology, somatics, kinesiology, dance, etc.  When I read the biographies of my predecessors I am blown away- how the hell did they have the time, energy, and money to do all that?

I love my life and being busy, and in all honesty, I probably wouldn’t have it any other way.  Maybe I am just young and eager- excited to learn about it all.  Yet, I wonder why is it that I feel that I have to know it all?  What is it about our culture that we must have expertise in all things?  Maybe this is our blessing and our curse as dance/movement therapists who straddle the line of being clinicians and artists.  In the rare occasion that I do have time to sit down, relax, and reflect on being a dance/movement therapist I wonder when is enough enough?  When can I stop juggling and just be?

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About emilyadannunzio

Board Certified-Dance/Movement Therapist. Movement Analyst (GL-CMA). Researcher. Dancer. Bartender. Detroit, MI.
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