The Power of Dance
Aurora Montgomery is one of the main character’s in Soul Keeper, the first book in our Brotherhood of Shadow’s series. Aurora is a Dance Movement Therapist, or DMT, and works with disabled, traumatized, and at-risk children. One question we often get when talking about Soul Keeper is what a Dance Movement Therapist does and what kind of training is necessary to become a DMT.
In Soul Keeper, Aurora had been unable to speak as a child and in order to help her express herself her mother enrolled her in a dance class when she was four years old. This is what happened:
“There’d been no looking back after that.
Music was a godsend. Aurora felt everything through the soles of her feet. Rhythm entranced her. Vibration was a tactile experience, something she could touch. Movement was expression. It filled her, exploded inside her, lit her up both day and night. She could articulate it. Kinetic illustration became words.”
The Power of Dance Movement Therapy
We have all felt the power of dance at some point in our lives. Whether you took professional lessons or let the music carry you away while cleaning the house, dancing is more than just fun—it is therapeutic.
The American Dance Therapy Association (ADTA) defines dance therapy as “the psychotherapeutic use of movement to promote emotional, social, cognitive, and physical integration of the individual, for the purpose of improving health and well-being.” However, the idea of dance movement therapy can be traced back to the beginning of humanity—with humans using their bodies to express themselves through dance, whether in joy, sorrow, or ecstasy.
The modern idea of dance movement therapy (DMT) first evolved in the 1940’s as a way to support those dealing with mental illness or physical disability, and it has evolved into a small—but growing—field that considers the needs of the entire person on the path towards healing.
What is Dance Movement Therapy?
In the simplest terms, dance movement therapy is harnessing the power of body movement to promote well-being. While the concept may seem simple, the multi-layered approach to understanding, assessing, and utilizing dance therapy is one that is learned through extensive professional education.
According to the ADTA, dance movement therapy is based on four cornerstones of thought:
- Movement is our first language and it begins before birth and continues throughout life
- The mind, body, and spirit of each person is interconnected
- Movement can be functional, communicative, developmental, and expressive
- Movement can be used for assessment and as a primary mode of intervention
Who Can Benefit from Dance Movement Therapy?
The short answer is—anyone! With movement being our first form of language and communication, understanding how to harness the power of the body and express yourself through dance can be immensely therapeutic for a wide variety of people.
Those of all ages benefit from the therapeutic nature of dance, and it has been used with great success in numerous different settings:
- Mental Health
- Rehabilitation and Medical Facilities
- Educational Settings
- Nursing Homes
- Day Care Centers
…and many more!
How Do I Become a Dance Movement Therapist (DMT)?
A dance movement therapist (DMT) undergoes extensive training, education, and in-field work to master their specialty. There are two general paths to earning credentials in dance/movement therapy—ADTA Approved Graduate Programs and an Alternate Route— although both can lead to the same certifications.
The first step in either path towards becoming a DMT starts with a masters degree or higher from an accredited institution. There are no specific requirements at the undergraduate level to qualify for the next steps in the educational process, but those pursing a DMT certification commonly have experience in both dance and psychology.
Certifications in Dance Movement Therapy
Regardless of the route that you choose to take for your education, there are two levels of credentials for dance movement therapists:
- Registered Dance/Movement Therapist (R-DMT): This entry level credential prepares you to get a job in a clinical or educational setting and to get your feet wet in this exciting profession.
- Board Certified Dance/Movement Therapist (BC-DMT): This credential is earned after receiving a R-DMT. As an advanced level of certification, it gives you the ability to train and supervise therapy and begin your own private practice.
If you want to work with children, like the lead in Soul Keeper, there are several other requirements that will be necessary—including additional education, supervised internships, and work experience.
ADTA Approved Graduate Programs
An ADTA Approved Graduate Program is one that is designed to meet all of the requirements for earning an R-DMT—based on the ADTA Standards for Graduate Dance/Movement Therapy Programs. In addition to extensive education in areas that range from psychological therapy to movement observation and clinical applications of DMT, students must also complete a minimum of 700 hours of supervised work in a clinical setting or in internships.
If an ADTA Approved Graduate Program isn’t an option for you, there’s another way to earning your R-DMT certification. An Alternative Route to becoming a dance/movement therapist still requires a masters degree or higher, a combination of general training, dance/movement therapy coursework, internships, and clinical fieldwork to fulfill the requirements of the program.