Dance/Movement Therapy Certification

Dance/Movement Therapy Certification

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At the Graduate Preview Day the other week, someone asked why one should go to graduate school at all for a degree in the arts?  I felt that this was a question that many of you may be wondering about if you have looked into becoming a student in the field of dance/movement therapy.  However, this is an extremely important question for those who want to obtain any sort of therapy degree, regardless of whether it’s a degree in creative arts therapies or other therapeutic professions.

It is true that there is such a profession known as artist-in-residence.  However, an artist-in-residence is different from a dance/movement therapist for a few reasons, one of which is that in order to become a dance/movement therapist, you must receive a masters degree from one of the six programs accredited by the ADTA or an alternate route certification.  The alternate route certification allows for those who already have received a masters degree in another mental health field such as social work, counseling, psychology etc. to become a dance/movement therapist through additional ADTA approved classes in movement observation, dance/movement therapy theory, etc.  For more information on how to receive an alternate route certification click here.    Since I discussed this a little bit in a recent blog post, I thought it may be fitting to explain the educational process of becoming a dance/movement therapist that distinguishes dance/movement therapy from an artist-in-residence.

Often times an artist-in-residence may have the opportunity to work with a population or community but is limited in terms of how far they can take their interaction with clients.  While an artist-in-residence may be able to teach movement that can allow for an increase in the mobility of participants (as is part of the goal at Hubbard Street Dance, which is currently employing a program for Parkinson’s patients), interventions of the psychological content of the patient may not be exhumed.  This is because the artist-in-residence has not yet had the training in the therapeutic skills necessary for making such an intervention with a patient.  Columbia’s Dance/Movement Therapy and Counseling MA program prepares students for these interventions by providing education in both the theories of dance/movement therapy and the counseling skills necessary to heal a client.

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A large reason why I choose Columbia specifically to continue my education is that I knew I would also be able to sit for the Illinois state Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) exam upon the completion of my degree.  This is one of the perks, so to speak, of attending Columbia—not only will I graduate and become a Registered Dance/Movement Therapist (R-DMT), but I’ll also sit for the LPC exam.  While I have the opportunity to learn how to apply psychological theory to movement therapy, I also have an opportunity to become a licensed professional counselor.  This is particularly advantageous, because it will make me more marketable upon graduation.

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Once I receive my R-DMT, I’ll have the opportunity to become a Board Certified Dance Movement Therapist (BC-DMT). This certification will require me to work under another BC-DMT for two years. Then, I can turn in a portfolio to the ADTA and become a BC-DMT myself, which will give me the opportunity to work anywhere in the nation as a dance/movement therapist and even open a private practice.

An important thing to keep in mind is that the LPC is done at the state level, so although I’ll be able to practice as a BC-DMT nationally, if I want to be considered an LPC in another state, I’ll need to sit for that state’s LPC exam and potentially take some alternative classes.