Dance therapy, sometimes called movement therapy, adds the component of physical expression to psychotherapy in order to address physical, cognitive, emotional, behavioral or social issues. This therapy is held in a variety of settings such as hospitals, schools, nursing homes, rehab and outpatient facilities, and community centers. Most certified dance therapist have a master's degree from an institution accredited by the American Dance Therapy Association.
Degrees in Dance Therapy
Dance therapy focuses on the mind-body connection to enhance quality of life, general health, prevent injury or address illness. To prepare for this career, master's students study a wide range of subjects, including psychology, human development, communication, anatomy, neuroscience and assessment. In addition to class work, students participate in at least 700 hours of supervised clinical and intern work. As of 2013, only six institutions across the United States have been accredited by the ADTA to offer graduate degrees in dance therapy.
Antioch University in Keene, N.H., offers three graduate programs in dance/movement therapy and counseling. Students can earn a master's degree in arts or education, or a post-master's certificate. The degree programs both require 62 credits. The certificate is for individuals who already hold a master's in the mental health field. These students must complete only 32 credits. Headquartered in Cambridge, Mass., Lesley University has a Master of Arts program in Expressive Therapies. Students study dance therapy in combination with counseling. In addition to 60 class credits, students are required to complete 1150 hours of supervised fieldwork.
Eastern United States
New York City's Pratt Institute offers a Master of Science in Dance Therapy from its creative arts therapy department. Most prospective students have undergraduate degrees in psychology or dance. There are several psychology prerequisites, such as abnormal, developmental and personality. In addition, applicants must also have credits in anatomy and kinesiology. Dance background must include modern dance and at least one other form. Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pa., has a two-year master's program in Dance/Movement Therapy. Supervised clinical fieldwork begins in the first semester and covers both adults and children. A bachelor's degree is a prerequisite, but the field is not limited. The required dance background can come from a degree or studio experience.
Midwest and Western United States
At Columbia College in Chicago, Ill., students can earn a Master of Arts in Dance/Movement Therapy and Counseling. As undergraduates, most applicants either majored or minored in psychology or dance. The program has prerequisites in psychology, anatomy and kinesiology. In addition, students must have at least five years dance experience. Bolder, Colo., is home to Naropa University, which offers a Master of Arts degree in Somatic Counseling Psychology with a Dance/Movement Therapy concentration. The three-year program has required courses in such areas as counseling relationships, group processes, mediation and psychotherapy, multicultural foundations and neuroscience. Successful applicants must have a bachelor's degree, preferably in an area related to psychology or dance, as well as at least 100 hours of paid or volunteer work in a service field such as mental health.
- American Cancer Society: Dance Therapy
- American Dance Therapy Association: ADTA Approved Graduate Programs in Dance/Movement Therapy
- Antioch University: MA in Dance/Movement Therapy and Counseling
- Lesley University: Master of Arts in Expressive Therapies
- Pratt Institute: Dance/Movement Therapy M.S.
- Drexel University: Dance/Movement Therapy Program
- Naropa University: Dance/Movement Therapy Concentration
Living in upstate New York, Susan Sherwood is a researcher who has been writing within educational settings for more than 10 years. She has co-authored papers for Horizons Research, Inc. and the Capital Region Science Education Partnership. Sherwood has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction from the University at Albany.