1. What is dance/movement therapy?

Dance Movement Therapy is based on the premise that thoughts, feelings and the experience of self are expressed through the body and movement. It is a relational process that integrates emotional, cognitive, physical and social aspects of self.

The Dance Movement Therapy approach incorporates knowledge from psychotherapeutic approaches, psychology, sensorimotor and developmental movement, movement analysis and neuroscience. The elements of dance (body awareness, rhythm, time, space, gesture, posture, dynamics) are applied as a framework for exploration, discovery, learning and change. Dance Movement Therapy focuses on movement behaviour as it emerges in the therapeutic   relationship. Expressive, communicative, and adaptive behaviours are all considered for group and individual treatment.  Body movement, as the core component of dance, simultaneously provides the means of assessment and the mode of intervention.

2. Why use dance/movement therapy?

Dance Movement Therapy is one of the Creative Arts Therapies. This innovative approach to psychotherapy aligns with current research into the brain and behaviour and the importance of movement for human development and mental health.

Dance Movement Therapy recognizes the creative potential of individuals and values both verbal and non-verbal aspects of expression. The provision of a safe and contained environment offers clients an opportunity to test the impact of self on others. Dance and movement play engages people in a process where relational skills and inner resources can be developed. Increasing an understanding of movement behaviour enables new insights into the connection between inner and outer realities.  Accessing creativity through movement allow for new experiences of the self and the rehearsal of adaptive coping behaviours.

3. Who can benefit from dance/movement therapy?

Dance Movement Therapy is an effective treatment for people with developmental, medical, cognitive, physical, social and psychological impairments.

Dance Movement Therapy is practiced in mental health, rehabilitation, medical, educational, community, social service and private practice settings.

Dance Movement Therapy can be adapted to the needs of people of all ages and backgrounds and practiced in individual, couple, family, and group therapy formats.

4. Where can I find a dance/movement therapist?*

Please explore our Membership Directory to locate a Dance Movement Therapist in Canada.

*coming soon

5. How do dance/movement therapist differ from other professionals?

Dance Movement Therapists apply dance and movement in a therapeutic context. The goal of Dance Movement Therapy is not to teach a dance technique. Rather, Dance Movement Therapists apply the elements of dance and movement to facilitate a process that meets the needs and treatment programs of the clients with whom they are working. Dance and movement is applied as a supportive intervention and can also serve as a diagnostic tool. Dance Movement Therapists work as members of multidisciplinary teams with other educational, medical and mental health professionals.

6. What sort of training programs or standards of practice do dance/movement therapists follow?

Entry into the profession of Dance Movement Therapy begins at the Masters level of education and requires completion of supervised clinical internships. Dance Movement Therapists in Canada currently adhere to the Code of Ethics of the ADTA (American Dance Therapy Association) . Dance Movement Therapists are also members of  Group Therapy associations in their province or territory.

7. How did dance/movement therapy develop?

In the USA, Dance Movement Therapy emerged as a distinct profession in the 1940’s. The primary pioneer of the work was Marian Chace. Her work with psychiatric patients and war veterans, first called “Dance for Communication” was the start of a new mental health profession, which would eventually be known as Dance Movement Therapy. The American Dance Therapy Association was formed in 1966.

In the UK the DMP pioneers started to develop their practice in the early part of the second half of the last century (1960s-1970s). This lineage came from health and education backgrounds, some having been trained in Laban movement, which values the individual’s choice of movement and self- initiated vocabularies.

Dance Movement Therapy has grown into an internationally recognized field and is practiced around the world.

8. How can I learn more about dance/movement therapy?

In addition to this website, both the ADTA (American Dance Therapy Association) and the ADMP UK (Association for Dance Movement Psychotherapy, UK) have developed informative websites. Each of these organizations publishes a journal or newsletter.

Dance Movement Therapy is practiced worldwide. Other countries also have associations and websites, please refer to the DMT Worldwide section for more resources.

9. Where can I get more information about becoming a dance/movement therapist in Canada? 

If you don’t find the answers to your questions here, a Regional Representative will be able to respond by email to additional questions.





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