When you hear the phrase ‘dance movement psychotherapy’, you might automatically think of Mark and Jeremy prancing around at the ‘Rainbow Rhythms’ dance class in series two of Peep Show.
However, dance movement psychotherapy is actually a recognised form of therapeutic treatment, which is highly effective for helping people with psychological disorders, mental health problems and physical disabilities.
Furthermore, this form of psychotherapy can be used to help patients with emotional, social and substance abuse problems.
Prospective employers of dance movement psychotherapists include public and private healthcare providers, educational institutions, community centres, prisons, rehabilitation centres and care facilities for senior citizens and patients with terminal illnesses.
Dance movement psychotherapists provide therapeutic treatment and counselling in solo or group sessions. Essentially, this involves encouraging patients to use free-form movements, such as those used in dance, to influence and improve their emotional, mental, social and cognitive development.
If you enter this profession, you’ll be making a thorough study of your patients’ movements in a controlled environment to ascertain the best course of therapy for them. Following this assessment period, you’ll be planning and implementing treatment sessions accordingly.
Furthermore, you’ll actually be responsible for leading the treatment sessions, making sure that your patients feel comfortable and helping them to express themselves through the medium of dance. You’ll also be in charge of selecting the music, although this will probably be based on your patients’ needs and not your own personal taste!
Throughout these sessions, you will be monitoring your patients’ progress, writing reports to track their improvements and then liaising with other medical and non-medical specialists to make sure that these therapy sessions are as beneficial as possible.
Throughout your professional life, you will need to keep up-to-date on the latest developments within the profession and the larger psychotherapy field.
Salary & benefits
It’s important to note here that there are very few full-time salaried positions for dance movement psychotherapists. Indeed, freelance or part-time work is the norm.
Average salaries for entry-level, full-time dance movement psychotherapists range between £26,000 and £40,000 per annum.
Freelance professionals, on the other hand, charge their employing organisations an hourly rate or on a session-by-session basis. The average hourly rate is around £40 to £60. However, the amount you can secure is understandably dependent on your professional experience and reputation.
Dance movement psychotherapists tend to work around six to eight hours on a daily basis. Weekend work is rare. However, evening work is common as you will need to fit around your patients’ availability.
Many dance movement psychotherapists take on various contracts at once and thus you may be required to travel around on a frequent basis.
To break into this line of work and become a registered dance movement psychotherapist, you will need to obtain a master’s degree in Dance Movement Psychotherapy, which is accredited by the Association for Dance Movement Psychotherapy (ADMP) UK.
Before studying for this qualification, many people study an undergraduate degree (or equivalent) in a subject such as performing arts, theatre studies, contemporary dance, psychology, biology, sports science or nursing.
Training & progression
Additional professional training is largely self-initiated. A handful of organisations, such as the ADMP and Dance Voice, offer a range of courses and training seminars. However, these do not provide you with any professional certifications and are mainly aimed at increasing your knowledge base.
The majority of dance movement psychotherapists are freelancers and, therefore, career progression is entirely dependent on building your reputation and securing more lucrative and challenging contracts.
Some professionals in this area may eventually choose to teach dance movement psychotherapy to other budding students in academic institutions.