What is dance and movement therapy?
Several definitions exist to define and frame this practice, and each puts forward a different perspective. At the NCDT, we define dance therapy as a treatment modality used either in addition to certain medical or psychotherapy treatment, or as main therapy. The objectives of this therapy are defined jointly between the beneficiary and the dance therapist. Supported by specialized training in movement analysis, body expression and psychotherapy, these professionals use dance and movement as a tool for achieving well-being, through communication, body awareness, motor skills, creativity, expression, and self-esteem.
Who is dance therapy for?
For everybody! Anyone who can move, in whatever way, can benefit from dance therapy. In dance therapy there are no klimits on age, gender, situation or needs.
Is dance therapy a group or individual practice?
Dance therapy can be practiced in a group setting, as well as individually with a dance therapist.
In groups, dance therapy is often used as a base for creating bonds of trust and empathy and to create group relationships.
In a private practice, the relationship between the client and the therapist allows dance therapy to become a tool for communication and expression of the emotions.
In what contexts can we integrate dance therapy?
We believe that everyone can move, and therefore everyone can benefit from a practice based on dance and movement. Usually, dance therapy interventions can be integrated in the following contexts:
- Community: In a community setting, dance therapy is a good tool to support the goals of people with special needs or coming from vulnerable communities, helping them develop their creativity and achieve a greater level of well-being.
- Health: In healthcare institutions, dance therapy can be part of the patients' clinical intervention plan, whether it is to support them on a physical, cognitive, or emotional level.
- School: In a school environment, dance therapy sessions can be part of the students' curriculum, to help them achieve their academic and personal development goals.
- Private sector: Dance therapy can help address mental health issues, such as stress and anxiety, or increase group cohesion (team building).
What can you expect in a dance therapy session?
In a dance therapy session, you can expect to move with the support and guidance of a dance therapist. The movement is mostly guided and sometimes improvised, but the therapist's intentions are clear and established. Movements can vary from simple movement to everyday gestures to dance-inspiredmovements. Depending on the needs, ease, abilities and preferences of the participants, the session will be structured very differently. You can expect to communicate through movement, build trust and open yourself to the therapist and / or the other participants. Dance and movement will also explore techniques for the development of communication, body awareness, creativity, self-expression, self-esteem, autoregulation and increase/maintain motor skills and physical skills.
How can I become a dance therapist?
To work as a dance therapist, it is necessary to have a master's degree (or equivalence of training) approved by a professional accreditation board. Since in Canada we do not yet have an association of accreditation, local dance therapists adhere to the codes and standards of the American Dance Therapy Association (ADTA) or other European organizations such as the Association for Dance Movement Psychotherapy UK.
A Canadian student has two options to become a dance therapist:
- Complete a master's degree approved by a formal accreditation board, abroad (at the moment, no such program exists in Canada=
- Pursue a training such as the Alternative Route of the ADTA, which requires a master's degree in dance or health, graduate courses in dance therapy, experience in the field, internships, and experience in dance.
What kind of support and resources exist in Canada?
The Dance Movement Therapy Association in Canada (DMTAC) is the professional association representing dance movement therapists working in Canada and is mandated to promote, support and develop the practice of dance/movement therapy across the country. As a national organization, DMTAC works towards the advancement and development of the profession of Dance Movement Therapy, represents and supports its professional, student, and associate members, and acts as a resource for those seeking information about dance therapy as clients or potential students.