Dance/Movement Therapy & Counseling, MA
My name is Jessica and I am a second-year in Columbia College Chicago’s Dance/Movement Therapy & Counseling MA program. I am originally from Germany and have been living in Chicago since July 2014. Before that I had the chance to live in and experience New York City for an academic year in 2012/2013, studying dance and psychology at Columbia University in the City of New York. As part of my program I am currently interning at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center, working in their inpatient psychiatric unit for adults with mental illnesses and providing acute care through dance/movement therapy. In addition, I am the graduate assistant in CCC’s Office of International Student Affairs, supporting current and prospective international students and contributing to a global mindset.
TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT WHAT YOU WERE DOING BEFORE YOU CAME TO COLUMBIA.
I had just finished my undergraduate studies in Germany when I started my program at Columbia College Chicago at the end of July 2014. More precisely, I did finish it two weeks before my departure to the US and did not even get to see my graduation certificate until I returned to Germany over winter break (in Germany, the spring semester starts at the beginning of April and officially ends at the end of September). I did study rehabilitation pedagogy, majoring in psychosocial rehabilitation and movement therapy. In addition, I was working as a student assistant in the departments of movement therapy and health psychology, as well as a research assistant in Columbia University’s Intergroup Relations and Diversity Laboratory. The research I was working on focused on differences in national identity between the US and Germany and how aspects of those concepts influence strategies to deal with information threatening a person’s national identity (yes, sounds complicated and it is really hard to explain ;)).
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE COLUMBIA FOR YOUR GRADUATE STUDY?
The simplest answer to this is because Columbia offers the program I wanted to study. When I applied to the program in 2013, there was only one graduate program in dance/movement therapy available in Germany and that program was not even accredited by the German Dance Therapy Association. I also had a great time while living in NYC, which is why I decided to look into dance/movement therapy programs in the United States.
There are currently seven dance/movement therapy programs in the US, which are accredited by the American Dance Therapy Association (ADTA). I actually took the effort to visit four of the schools to get a feeling for the environment and meet some of the professors. Overall, Chicago and Columbia College just seemed “right”. It instantly felt like home and I really enjoyed the diversity and openness of the campus. Meeting faculty and staff during the movement interview further confirmed this feeling. Every staff/faculty member seemed to have his own approach and worldview, but besides their diverse background they treated every applicant with respect and curiosity. Experiencing this made me feel welcomed and convinced me that I will be able to grow professionally and personally.
Lastly, Columbia College Chicago’s Dance/Movement Therapy and Counseling program follows a more existential-humanistic approach, which aligns well with my personal preferences and worldviews.
TELL US ABOUT A PROJECT YOU’RE WORKING ON THAT YOU’RE EXCITED ABOUT.
In addition to being a full-time student, doing my internship, and being the graduate student ambassador for the program, I am also working as a graduate assistant in the Office of International Student Affairs (OISA). This position does not just provide some balance to my emotionally and physically intense masters program, but also supports the growth of my curiosity for different cultures and diversity in general. OISA is part of Multicultural Affairs, a group of offices promoting and celebrating diversity on campus, including the Office of African-American Cultural Affairs, Latin American Cultural Affairs, Asian American Cultural Affairs, and LGBTQ Office of Culture and Community. Collaborating with students and staff from those offices enables me to constantly check my own prejudice and assumptions about people I perceive different from myself, and to stay open for other experiences, a skill that is of significant importance when working as a therapist or counselor.
To further develop my global mindset, I will participate in a therapeutic arts program trip to Kenya and Tanzania organized by Global Alliance for Africa in January 2016. I am excited about being able to share my knowledge about dance/movement therapy and counseling with artists from those areas and to see how techniques and theories are applicable (or not applicable) to a different context. This allows me to ultimately combine my interest in cultures and dance/movement therapy.