Dance/Movement Therapy & Counseling: The alternate route.

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One great thing (of the many) about the Dance/Movement Therapy & Counseling program is that in addition to the 60 hour credit Masters program, Columbia College Chicago also offers an alternate route certificate.  The Alternate Route Certificate in Dance/Movement Therapy is offered to professionals who are already working as a clinician, social worker, or counselor and are interested in becoming a registered dance/movement therapist.

Since I myself am not an alternate route student, I have elicited the help from a member of my cohort, Jessica Sittig.  Below is Jessica’s insight and words about her experience as an alternate route student in the DMT & C program so far.

The Body Says What Words Cannot: Alternate Route DMT

The statement, “the body says what words cannot,” is attributed to American modern dance pioneer Martha Graham.  For most of the last decade, I worked as a licensed clinical social worker specializing in providing therapy for children who experienced psychological trauma.  My work focused on using play, art, narrative, education, and relationship building as a way to help children and their families heal.  Everyday I saw how difficult it was for my clients regardless of age to put traumatic experiences into words.  I was constantly asking them to speak the unspeakable…to put into words experiences that they may not have ever developed language for.

While growing up and studying dance, I thought movement told someone else’s story, like the choreography of a famous ballet. As an adult, I realized that we all use movement to share our unique stories.  We innately choreograph our life stories.  I became increasingly curious about how my client’s movements and ways my own body were informing me about their lives (and incidentally about my life).  I knew that it was time to integrate my work as a therapist and my rekindled interest in dance and movement.

The Dance Movement Therapy & Counseling (DMT&C) department at Columbia College Chicago offers all of the coursework to complete an Alternate Route Certification to become a Registered-Dance Movement Therapist.  It is an accelerated program for those with master’s degrees in the human services field and an interest to enhance their practice with dance movement therapy methodology.  The coursework is part-time and takes less than two years.  A perfect fit for me! I have loved the coursework in the core theories of dance movement therapy, and observation and assessment.

Within the DMT&C department, I have had the opportunity and freedom to “choreograph” my own experiences.  Last summer, I worked closely with Lisa Goldman, a member of the DMT&C faculty and program manager at New Focus, a brain injury rehabilitation program at Anixter Center.  I was humbled everyday (and still am) by the amazing participants and how the staff uses dance movement therapy as a pillar for rehabilitation.  Currently, I am a dance movement therapy intern at a psychiatric hospital, where I have the unique opportunity to meet with patients across the entire span of human development, pediatrics-geriatrics.

I also received a Schweitzer Fellowship allowing me to design and implement my own community service project. And, you guessed it…I am focusing on integrating dance and movement into trauma-focused psychotherapy with children at La Rabida Children’s Hospital-Chicago Child Trauma Center.  The future seems bright to me because I know I am on the right route, even if some refer to it as an Alternate Route.