Dance.Movement.Therapy. has come a long way since I began writing in August of 2012. My blog has evolved as I have evolved as a dance/movement therapist. Some of the posts are more professional, diving into dance/movement therapy (DMT) principles and interventions, whereas other posts or more personal by discussing my experience as a dance/movement therapist. While I truly believe the professional and personal selves are interrelated, I will honor that this post is more personal. My husband and I have recently moved out of Chicago and relocated. Although I love Chicago and my Chicago DMT community, it was time to move on and branch out. We have relocated back to where I call home. It’s nice to be home surrounded by my family, friends and Detroit grit, but there is only a small DMT presence here. I have left my full-time DMT job and large DMT community and embarked into the unknown of DMT.
When I originally moved away to pursue my education in DMT, I knew that I wanted to return home with the knowledge I gained to serve the community I grew up in. My heart about exploded when I was told that the DMT program “was more like three years with thesis work” instead of two years as advertised. To me, this meant one more year away from the state I loved. Yet, as my DMT journey pressed on, I acclimated to the big city lifestyle and established a supportive network of people. I began to truly love Chicago and the idea of returning home seemed less pressing. In hindsight it ended up working out well. I learned a lot by staying in Chicago and surrounding myself with a rich DMT community. I became a more confident writer through the thesis process and with the help of the college writing center (blogging helped too). I was able to present my thesis research at the American Dance Therapy Association (ADTA) Annual Conference once at the research poster session and then again alongside a colleague as a workshop presentation. I was also able to study Laban Movement Analysis (LMA) to compliment my DMT education. Most importantly, I transitioned from being a DMT student into a professional dance/movement therapist. What started as a three year journey ended up lasting six years. However, in the beginning of 2016 I knew that it was time for a change. Although the definition of “change” was elusive for awhile, my husband and I eventually decided it was best for us to move back to where I call home.
Our transition is recent (there are still some boxes laying around) so I have just now begun to embark on discovering what DMT is in my new community. I’ve joined professional networking sites and job list serves, reached out to fellow dance/movement therapists in the area, and researched the state’s counseling license procedure. The lack of DMT presence is two fold. In one instance it feels like the wild, wild, west- the sky is the limit and I may be able to make a true impact on the community. On the other hand, the lack of presence is overwhelming and tiring. I know that I have a lot of advocacy work ahead of me. I also want to be mindful of already working professionals in the area so as not to step on any toes. I’m not trying to be competitive, but rather harvest a community where DMT can flourish. Truthfully, I’m also trying to get a job to pay my bills.
I also know that what I am experiencing is in no way unique. I imagine this is how a lot of DMT graduates feel when they move away from their big city DMT communities and return home. While I don’t feel like an island because I have already reached out to other dance/movement therapists in the area, I do feel a bit lost and I’m not sure where I want to start. I’m curious about those who’ve experienced this before me. How did they make their way? How did they advocate for DMT and find a job as a dance/movement therapist? How did they stay resourced throughout the process to fend off feelings of discouragement? Or, maybe they didn’t feel this way at all and establishing themselves in a new community was a breeze.
One thing I have realized about embarking into the unknown of DMT in a new community is that it has challenged my thoughts and ideas about DMT and who I am as a professional. I’ve returned to my Board Certified-Dance/Movement Therapy (BC-DMT) application essays to remind myself about how I approach the work. How would I explain my DMT approach to a potential employer? I’ve also had to examine how important the title of dance/movement therapist is. Do I need my job title to be dance/movement therapist, or is it okay if I’m an activities director, case manager or counselor instead? Am I okay taking on part-time work, in hopes it will blossom into a full-time position or while I look for something more stable? Regardless of how my DMT journey unfolds, I trust that if I stay true to myself as a dance/movement therapist it will unfold just the way I need it to. I will admit that sometimes words of discouragement creep into my thought process. I’ve had ugly thoughts like, “Will I find a DMT job?” or, “Will people take me serious as a professional?”
I had a lot of send-offs before I moved away from Chicago, both personally and professionally. In my last Authentic Movement experience (for now), a fellow mover reminded me of something very important in response to my words about my movement experience. This mover reminded me that my way of being is not tied to a location or even to a certain moment. If I have accessed parts of myself in a certain location or a certain moment, then I have the ability to access those parts no matter where I am, no matter when I want to. I was deeply moved by these words, as they were important to hear before I embarked on my transition. That moment, that exchange, gave me confidence to embark into the unknown of my DMT path.