Jessica Houghton is a Dance Movement Psychotherapist, Registered Psychotherapist, educator, and dance artist, who has a private therapy practice in Toronto. She is the current President of the Dance Movement Therapy Association in Canada and co-founder of Dance Movement Therapy Ontario.
The Dance Movement Therapy Association in Canada (DMTAC) is an independent non-profit organization mandated to support the development of Dance Movement Therapy (DMT) across Canada.
Tell us about the DMTAC mission. What was the need that prompted its foundation?
DMTAC was formed in 2006 to increase awareness of Dance Movement Therapy, connect dance therapists working in Canada, and provide national representation of the field. Since then, we have supported the development of the profession across the country, offered educational and professional activities, and provided training resources for those interested in becoming dance therapists.
What kinds of services does the DMTAC offer to the dance therapy community of Canada?
As an organization, we strive to create a diverse, inclusive, and accessible community of professional, student, and associate members. We offer our members educational and networking opportunities and promote the work of Dance Movement Therapists across the country. We are also developing a Canadian system of accreditation for DMT and supporting students in accessing and completing training. Alongside what we offer our members, we aim to increase the visibility of the profession to the general public and connect with the international DMT community to further support the development of the profession.
How do you ensure that the organization is representative of the different needs and situations of each province?
DMTAC has a network of regional representatives who connect with dance therapists working across the country to offer support and communicate the needs of each region to the board. Alongside this, our annual Professional Exchange Weekend offers opportunities for connection and dialogue within our national community, and our Annual General Meeting takes place online to allow members across the country to participate in the development of the organization. Even with these measures, it is challenging to create a cohesive national community given our geographically distant communities. We do our best!
The DMTAC is a volunteer-run organization. What has motivated you and your colleagues to invest your personal time into the organization? What would you say to some who would like to get involved?
Having been involved with the board for a few years, I am constantly inspired by how much passion and enthusiasm our board members have for this work. We are motivated by our experiences of the effectiveness of DMT and the amazing community of therapists and students that volunteer with us. As a team, we have created an environment of acceptance, support, and encouragement that makes it all possible.
To those who are interested in volunteering with us, please reach out! We are always in need of extra hands to help support this important work. Another way to support the work of the board is through membership. Becoming a member allows us to get to know who we are representing, what their needs are, and how we can best serve the community.
As the DMTAC newly elected President, what do you hope to accomplish in the coming years?
First, I’d like to acknowledge that without the incredible team I work alongside and the work of those who have come before us, I couldn’t accomplish much at all. As the current leader of this organization, my vision for the next two years is informed by the hopes and dreams of our community. I believe that the main priorities for the Canadian DMT community are: developing a system of accreditation for dance therapists working here in Canada, creating a Canadian approach to training and education, and increasing diversity, inclusion and accessibility within our community. I will do my best to lead DMTAC towards achieving these important goals.
And, more generally, how do you think that the Canadian dance therapy field will evolve in the coming years?
I see the next few years as crucial in the formation of a distinctly Canadian DMT identity, which places our values of diversity, inclusion, and accessibility at the forefront. With another cohort of students graduating from the Alternate Route training program of the NCDT and Canadian students completing their training internationally, I see a new wave of energy entering the community and helping to shape our direction moving forward. My hope is that with this new energy and our foundation of dedication to this remarkable profession, we will be able to support more people in benefitting from DMT, as clients, students, and professionals.