What’s in a name?: The loss of the dance/movement therapist title.

My recent blog posts have been centered around my transition from Chicago to Detroit.  I have also transitioned from a full-time dance/movement therapist to furiously searching for employment which has lead me to my current state: that of filling my schedule with a myriad of part-time positions.   It has been six months since I made the move and things have started to settle.  Life is starting to make sense.  Since transitioning, I have acquired a few part-time positions because, unfortunately, I was unable to find a full-time position that truly encompassed what I was looking for professionally.  I am happy about my part-time positions and feel as though I am doing meaningful work.  However, I am not considered a dance/movement therapist in any of my positions.   While I feel like my knowledge of dance/movement therapy (DMT) and my experience as a professional dance/movement therapist influences my current work, I am lacking the official title.  Lately, I have been missing that title.

I did not realize how important having the title of dance/movement therapist was to me until my current supervisor pointed it out.  Although I am a Board-Certified Dance/Movement Therapist (BC-DMT), I have my limited state license in counseling and I am required to complete supervision (though I’m a true believer in continued supervision regardless of experience and licensure).  While in supervision I was discussing my transition, highlighting my new part-time positions and expressing nostalgic feelings for my former DMT position.  After listening, my supervisor looked at me and said, “You miss being called a dance/movement therapist, don’t you?” YES!  Yes I do miss it and I miss having a position that was truly, purely DMT.

Yet, at the same time, I feel conflicted.  I have always advocated that as long as an individual has DMT training and DMT experience, then the work they do, regardless of what it is called, is DMT.  I truly believe that DMT manifests in many different ways.  You can call me an activities therapist or call me a care team member or call me a therapist.  Call me whatever you like, but DMT will always be my lens.  I will always approach my work through the lens of the mind-body connection and emphasize a creative and organic approach to the therapeutic process.  So, what’s in a name?  What’s in a title?

While DMT is not new in Detroit or Michigan, it is certainly not as popular as it was in my former community.  Dance/movement therapy lacks popularity in my new community, which results in a lack of understanding of what it is.  This phenomenon makes having the title of dance/movement therapist seem more important to me.  It feels important to be called a dance/movement therapist because it advocates for the work that I do.  I am not just a therapist or an artist in residence.  I am doing work that is nuanced and rooted in a specialized knowledge.  In fact, I am both these things- an artist and a therapist.

I want to honor that I realize this is not a new phenomenon or a unique experience.  I realize that many dance/movement therapists relocate from big cities to smaller towns where they are required to advocate for DMT.  Maybe like me, they decide to take part-time positions in lieu of a full-time job so that they can do meaningful work or work that aligns more closely to DMT.  Maybe they take a position as a counselor while integrating DMT into their daily work.  Having flexibility in our work and our title is a part of our experience as dance/movement therapists.  Dance/movement therapy and dance/movement therapists are adaptable.  While I know it’s important to just get out there and do the work regardless of what my title is, I have to honor that there is a part of me that misses that title.  I miss being called a dance/movement therapist.


About emilyadannunzio

Board Certified-Dance/Movement Therapist. Movement Analyst (GL-CMA). Researcher. Dancer. Detroit, MI.
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3 Responses to What’s in a name?: The loss of the dance/movement therapist title.

  1. Linelly Olmeda Santos says:

    I agree with your article so much! I have been in Michigan for basically two years and have had no luck finding employment as a d/m therapist or even in a counseling position since I don’t have my limited license yet. Michigan is extremely behind when it comes to dmt and when you come here witg the degree is like you don’t have a degree in counseling. What I also realized is that most of the mental health workers are social workers which makes it even harder to find a position and an LPC to supervise your work…

    • Where in Michigan are you? We should connect or I can connect you to some other dance/movement therapists in the area. If you’re near Detroit I have a great supervisor who is an art therapist and a LPC. Email me if you’d prefer to chat that way (if at all).

  2. Pingback: Life in Detroit: Emily D’Annunzio Goodman – CarrieDaway

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