Dance/movement therapy v. therapuetic dance: the four differentiating factors.

Before I dive into the topic of this blog post, I want to honor that in recent months I have retreated from my blog .  I have stopped consistently writing blog posts.  My focus has been elsewhere as I adjust to my new surroundings and the changes occurring in the country.  It has been difficult to find time to write and to maintain the attention span it takes to write a blog post.  Dare I say I even had moments where I thought about discontinuing my blog altogether.  However, various e-mails from prospective dance/movement therapy (DMT) students (I have received a handful lately) have reminded me why it’s important to write and spread the good word.  Not to mention I have had to do a lot of DMT advocacy in my new location where I feel like I am constantly asked to define it.  This often manifests in differentiating it from therapeutic dance or dance projects for individuals with varying disabilities.  My current situation has led me to return to the DMT basics, the basics that differentiate it from therapeutic dance.

I first wrote about the difference between DMT and therapeutic dance, also known as artists in healthcare, when I blogged for Columbia College Chicago’s graduate student blog, Marginalia.  More recently, I led an “Introduction to DMT” workshop at a local college for music therapy and pre-dance/movement therapy undergraduate students.  In my presentation I defined DMT and outlined four components that differentiate DMT from other dance and movement focused practices.  These four components are specific to DMT and to dance/movement therapists, and they are what makes our work unique. Although I have written about this topic before I think it’s important to return to it.  In short, DMT is a type of therapy conducted by professional dance/movement therapists that occurs in professional clinical settings and incorporates movement interventions in the therapy process to address the therapeutic goals of their clients.  Below is a more detailed explanation of each of the four differentiating factors.

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Happy 2016 Annual ADTA Conference!


Happy conference to all those attending the 2016 American Dance Therapy Association (ADTA) Annual conference.  I am unable to attend this year, but I look forward to seeing and reading what people share via Facebook and Twitter.

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Beautiful words from Zoe Avstreih, dance/movement therapist and Authentic Movement pioneer.

Photo I took at the MOMA Bjork exhibit.

Photo I took at the MoMA Bjork exhibit.

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Cultural competency in dance/movement therapy.

cultural-competencyAs mentioned in my previous posts I have recently relocated and I am currently in-between employment.  I’ve been trying to re-acquaint myself with my home, as it’s not completely new, but rather a return to where I grew up.  My new community has infiltrated my thoughts and has caused self-reflection.  My new home is in the process of transformation (much like myself) and the issue of culture and gentrification are palpable.  The phrase, “the new Detroit,” is charged to say the least.  My immersion in my new community and its metamorphosis has inspired me to think about cultural competency in dance/movement therapy (DMT).  How culturally competent am I as a dance/movement therapist and how culturally competent is DMT as a profession?

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Interviewing as a dance/movement therapist: “…but how passionate are you about counseling?”

As I mentioned in my last post, I have relocated to a city where dance/movement therapy (DMT) is on the fringes of the healing community.  Now that I have settled into my new location, I have started to apply and interview for possible employment opportunities ranging from traditional counseling to a DMT position.  My focus on finding meaningful employment has taken its toll on my blog writing and propelled me into the role of a diligent job hunter.  I have had a few interviews since moving and each one has been insightful for me as a dance/movement therapist.  I’ve had to define DMT, explain methodologies, lead a small movement experience for possible future clients, and I was even asked, ‘but how passionate are you about counseling?”

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Embarking into the unknown of dance/movement therapy.


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.

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11 things my clients have taught me about dance/movement therapy.

david and i

2011 David and I. David blogs at

Last week was my final week at my full-time dance/movement therapy (DMT) position at a day training program for adults with developmental disabilities (DD).  Over the past five years I have been apart of the treatment team as a DMT intern, DMT researcher and as a professional dance/movement therapist.  Most of my blog posts, maybe even all of them, are inspired by the work I have done with my clients.  Many of the clients I have known for five years and some for only a few months.  Either way, they have left an everlasting impression on me as a dance/movement therapist and on my DMT approach.  The termination process was a difficult one, one that involved an array of emotions felt by both my clients and I.  Upon telling my clients I was leaving I was met with shrugs of ambivalence, faces of disappointment and outright tears.  I, too, cycled through emotions spanning from complete exhaustion, to absolute joy and deep sadness.  I gave the termination process two and a half weeks to allow ample time for me and the clients to say good-bye.  The termination process looked different with each client.  Some danced with me, others wrote a song.  Some clients made art work or wrote good-bye letters.  Other clients, unfortunately, kept their distance from me, withdrawing from me early on in the process.  No matter how it manifested, I had to respect each individuals process and good-bye preference.  For myself, I processed termination in DMT supervision, Authentic Movement, and of course, blogging.  In my last month of work I kept a list of all of the things my clients, individuals with DD, have taught me about DMT.  Below is the list.

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