Dance movement psychotherapist: job description

Dance movement psychotherapists use movement and dance within a therapeutic environment to help individuals of all ages who are experiencing physical, psychological, emotional or mental problems.

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Dance movement psychotherapy recognises body movement as an implicit and expressive instrument of communication and expression, according to the Association for Dance Movement Psychotherapy UK (ADMP UK).

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

Dance movement psychotherapists work with adults and children who are affected by issues such as depression, anxiety, learning difficulties, dementia or autism. They also work with clients with physical, psychiatric, or neurological disorders, or behavioural or emotional problems.

They lead 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

Typical employers of dance movement psychotherapists

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

Dance movement psychotherapy 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 by local authorities, and on websites such as Community Care and NHS Jobs.

Qualifications and training required

You will need to have completed a postgraduate level qualification in dance movement psychotherapy accredited by ADMP UK in order to register with the organisation and enter the profession. Training places attract strong competition, so relevant experience prior to postgraduate study is normally essential. Course providers expect candidates to have had continuous experience of at least one dance or movement form for two years, as well as experience of a variety of others. An honours degree in a relevant field such as dance, movement, performing arts, psychology, nursing or medicine can be advantageous.

Key skills for dance movement psychotherapists

Candidates must be mature in attitude, resilient and imaginative by nature and should have excellent interpersonal and communication skills. Other important attributes are:

  • self-awareness and capacity for reflection
  • strong and adaptable communication skills
  • ability to analyse and evaluate
  • empathy, awareness of the needs of others and a sensitive approach
  • motivation
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