Prospective DMT & C Students: Interview with Susan D. Imus

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It’s about that time–when prospective graduate students are working on their application to Columbia College Chicago.  I was in that place myself once, and I know firsthand how stressful/worrisome the process can be.  Below is an interview with Susan D. Imus, the DMT & C department chair, which may shed light on some things you might want to know before and after you submit your application (due December 15th, 2011).

What type of background should a prospective DMT & C student have?

The most successful applicants have dance and psychology backgrounds. Psychology courses show the admissions committee that the student can handle the academic rigor of a graduate level counseling program. Furthermore, students are required to take at least 3 undergraduate level psychology courses, preferably by the application deadline.

Dance experience shows that the student is comfortable using movement as his/her primary tool for facilitating healing. Experience in choreography, teaching, improvisation, and folk/cultural/modern dance is also beneficial. Five years of dance is required by the American Dance Therapy association, so we adhere to this standard.

Students with other backgrounds are of course welcome, but they must have all necessary prerequisites upon applying and provide rationale for their decision to change focus.

How should a student prepare for the movement interview if asked to attend?

“Preparing” for the Movement Admissions Interview is a common misconception. The admissions committee really wants to see students be themselves as they interact with faculty and peers. We are not just looking at movement skills or students’ comfort level with movement; personality, interpersonal skills, and authenticity are extremely important.

In addition, we want students to recognize they are “trying on” the school as much as we are “trying on” them. Students should research their options and feel free to ask us questions about the department during the one-on-one faculty interview.

The only real prep work is to make sure you bring a jacket; March is still cold!

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Why should a student choose to attend the DMT & C program at Columbia?

A huge perk of our school is the location. The city of Chicago provides many opportunities for community dance work and dance/movement therapy—whether it’s through internships or collaborations with other local organizations, businesses, and schools. We prepare our students to not only market themselves but also the field, and I believe that this is part of the reason dance/movement therapy has gained popularity in the area and beyond.

The faculty and staff are also a huge strength. We have over 10 faculty members, which come from different backgrounds and have worked with different populations. All of them are still heavily involved in the field (beyond teaching) and bring their experience into the classroom. For example, they have private practices, work as dance therapists elsewhere, are involved with community partnerships, and/or are heavily involved with relevant organizations (ADTA, ICA, SAHC, ACE, etc). The staff here are caring, attentive, and hardworking; you won’t ever feel like a number.

What is your favorite aspect of teaching at Columbia?

I love the people I work with and the students I teach.  The college itself is also inspiring. The creative energy here–from the faculty and students–is contagious.

More information can be found at the DMT & C FAQ page.