I recently received my copy of the 2016 December issue of the American Journal of Dance Therapy in the mail. This particular volume of the journal, titled, “Special Issue: The First Fifty Years of the American Dance Therapy Association 1966-2016” reflects on the history and growth of dance/movement therapy (DMT), while including some current articles. If you know anything about DMT culture then you won’t find the journal topics to be particularly surprising or special, because we have a tendency to put heaps of value on our foremothers and the early strife of DMT as a profession. While I do appreciate the reflections and anticipate reading through the various writings, there was one article I was particularly interested in, titled “Social Media and Dance/Movement Therapy: Reciprocity, Collaboration, and Relationship.”
I first got wind of the article on Facebook (how fitting) before I received the journal in the mail. Once I received my hard copy, I read through the article again to take notes. As a dance/movement therapist who has committed to having an online presence via my blog, I was curious what the article would say about DMT in social media.
I began blogging in 2011 for Columbia Colleges Chicago’s graduate student blog, Marginalia. One of my Marginalia blog posts directly addressed the topic of DMT in social media and the lack of DMT online presence. Here is a snippet from my original blog post in 2012,
“Trust me, as a dance/movement therapy student, I get that our culture isn’t prone to being technically advanced. Instead, we focus on the here and now and the overall importance of making actual human connections. What kind of therapists would we be if we didn’t? …. Regardless of how frustrating, exhausting, and intimidating all of the web resources out there are, the ‘web presence’ trend is real and possibly important to keeping relevancy among other art related professions.”
I remember this blog post as one of the first posts that felt like people were actually reading what I had to say and what I had to say made an impact. I went to my first American Dance Therapy Association (ADTA) conference that year… it was a bit awkward.
There are many “golden nuggets” (a phrase my cohort coined when beginning our literature review for the thesis process) within the article. There are two that particularly struck me and showed why the investigation of DMT in social media is important. The article points out that before the development of the official ADTA YouTube channel and blog that features lectures and blog posts from professional dance/movement therapists, there was a myriad of misinformation on the internet about DMT. If someone searched DMT on the internet they most likely found sources that were not written by professional dance/movement therapists or actually about DMT at all, but rather therapeutic dance or artists in healthcare (Mau & Giordano-Adams, 2016). Currently the search engine results are much different and accurately depict DMT. While this is important for many reasons it is especially important because “… the more our network shares information that accurately depicts DMT, the less confusion there will be in the world about who we are and what we do. Sharing this clear, communicable identity can lead to more opportunities for employment, education programs, marketing, and recruitment while opening doors to greater success in licensure, advocacy, and research.” (Mau & Giordano-Adams, 2016, p. 398-399).
Dance/movement therapy’s presence on the web is also important because it helps connect us to other like-minded professionals, particularly other creative artist therapies. Together we can like, post, share, tweet and pin each others’ work to make it more accessible to those who may have an interest in our services or an interest in pursuing a career in creative arts therapies (Mau & Giordano-Adams, 2016). The single most important sentence of the article is (in my humble opinion), “The greatest return will require a shift in thinking among creative arts therapists from a twentieth century paradigm of isolationism and protectionism to a twenty first century social media value of reciprocity and relationship.” (p. 397) Yes, yes and yes! We all do better when we all do better, and creative arts therapists need to help each other out. This sentence also feels important because it may be the first time in DMT literature that has stated and somewhat admitted that our culture is in fact rooted in isolationism and protectionism. I read this in our literature and I felt this at our conference. It is palpable. Yet as the article suggests, with the use of web resources we can change that to create meaningful connections between ourselves as dance/movement therapists and with other creative art therapists.
I appreciate that the authors took the time to investigate the impact social media has had on DMT. I appreciate that they note that the web presence of DMT has positively influenced our profession by giving visibility to our work in a meaningful way. Sometimes it feels silly to blog about DMT and being a dance/movement therapist, and I often question why I take the time out of my schedule to write. Yet when I read the article I was reminded of the importance of blogging about my experience both personally and professionally. I was reminded why it is important for DMT and dance/movement therapists to have a web presence.
Mau, L.W., & Giordano-Adams, A. 2016. Social media and dance/movement therapy: Reciprocity, collaboration, and relationship. American Journal of Dance Therapy, 38 (2), 378-406.