Dance movement therapist: job description

Dance movement therapist: job description

Dance movement therapists use movement and dance within a therapeutic environment to help individuals of all ages who are experiencing physical, psychological, emotional or mental problems.
Dance movement therapy is founded on the principle that movement reflects the thinking patterns and feelings of an individual - Association for Dance Movement Psychotherapy.

What does a dance therapist do? Typical employers | Qualifications and training | Key skills

Dance therapists work with adults and children who are suffering symptoms including depression, anxiety, physical/psychiatric/neurological disorders, learning difficulties, dementia, autism, behavioural problems or congenital/emotional problems.

Therapists perform controlled sessions with individuals, groups and/or families where dance, physical movement and communication are used to observe and explore behaviour, attitudes and emotions (some of which may be unconscious, or repressed). Typical responsibilities of the job include:

  • assessing clients' needs;
  • planning and providing appropriate treatment
  • actively participating in therapy sessions and encouraging clients to do the same
  • helping clients understand and address inner conflicts through role play, interaction and self-realisation
  • exploring a variety of dance/movement styles and music resources
  • writing reports
  • maintaining confidential records and case notes
  • reporting progress to colleagues, families/carers, relevant agencies or professional staff

Employers of dance therapists include social services departments, hospitals, day/community care centres, residential homes, young offenders units, special schools, prisons, voluntary organisations and charities. Therapists also commonly work as private practitioners or on a freelance/self-employed basis.

Dance therapy is a small profession and job vacancies attract strong competition. Most opportunities are part time and/or temporary, with the majority based in London and other major cities. Vacancies are advertised in national newspapers, vacancy lists produced by local/health authorities, publications including ADMT UK's e-motion newsletter,  and Health and Social Services Journal, and websites such as

Qualifications and training required

To gain registered status therapists must obtain an Association for Dance Movement Therapy (ADMT) UK accredited postgraduate qualification in dance movement therapy. Training places attract strong competition, so relevant experience prior to postgraduate study is normally essential: most course providers require candidates to possess modern or classical dance training and experience. An honours degree in dance, movement, performing arts, psychology, nursing or medicine can be advantageous.

Key skills for dance therapists

Candidates must be mature in attitude, resilient and imaginative by nature and should have excellent interpersonal and communication skills.