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.