How do I Become a Dance Therapist?

Rachel Burkot

Dance therapy is a form of recuperation that maintains a healthy body image through combining physical, emotional and cognitive stimulation and interaction. Dance therapists work with patients to improve self-esteem by using dance. To become a dance therapist, a fundamental belief in the power of creative therapy is required.

Dance therapists use dance to help their clients improve their self-esteem and relieve stress.
Dance therapists use dance to help their clients improve their self-esteem and relieve stress.

Dance therapists should love everything about dance. Growing up as a dancer is a good way to become a dance therapist. Get involved with a variety of dance programs. Eventually, it’s a good idea to study the foundations of dance as movement therapy because dance therapists must possess a knowledge of and appreciation for the healing power of dance.

Dance therapists may focus on specific styles, such as ballet.
Dance therapists may focus on specific styles, such as ballet.

To become a dance therapist, a bachelor’s degree in performing arts or something similar is required. Psychology courses are strongly recommended because in addition to physical therapy, dance therapy consists of psychotherapy. After obtaining a bachelor’s degree, enroll in a graduate program accredited by the American Dance Therapy Association (ADTA). Requirements for entering such a program include theoretical knowledge of dance therapy, as well as extensive dance experience.

A graduate program that helps an individual become a dance therapist will instruct on matters of counseling, communication skills, interaction and stimulation. Graduate level study will also rely heavily on psychology and anatomy, as not only an understanding of the body but a thorough comfort with it is the focus of dance therapy. After completing a graduate program, the aspiring dance therapist is eligible to join the ADTA. Benefits of joining this group include additional information about the field, job postings and annual dance conferences. The ADTA also provides the Dance Therapist Registered (DTR) qualification, which acts as a license for a dance therapist to work in rehabilitation or mental health facilities, as well as in schools.

Creative therapy is believed to be an outlet for emotional stress and difficulties, and dance is used as one of these outlets. Dance therapists help those with psychological issues recognize their worth by teaching them strategies for building self-esteem through movement therapy. Communication barriers can also be broken by the patient as the dance therapist teaches him or her how to communicate through physical movement. The individual who chooses to become a dance therapist also undertakes a responsibility for teaching coping mechanisms for stressful situations. Physical stimulation can provide a distraction from worry, anger or fear.

Before a person can become a dance therapist, he or she must demonstrate a passion for the human body and for helping others. According to individual preference and experience, the movement therapist will work in a psychiatric ward, nursing home, counseling center, school or crisis prevention facility. It is the responsibility of the dance therapist to invest an appreciation for natural expression of the body into each patient.

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Discussion Comments


This sounds like a fascinating field to get into. It utilizes that whole mind over matter paradigm which is really the basis of all those self-help workshops that are so popular these days.

Teaching people how to ease pain and relieve stress without the use of drugs is the wave of the future. I think most people prefer alternative forms of medication and dance therapy just might be the cure-all in my opinion.


@anon140033 – Yes, dance therapy is very useful to the corporate sector. It’s beneficial to them in a couple of ways. First it’s useful as a preventative medicine for relieving on the job stress and tension build up.

Secondly, some dance therapy programs are hired as motivational performers to raise moral and motivate their employees. Dance therapists with disabilities do this very well by demonstrating the ability to achieve when the odds are against you.


How is dance therapy useful in a corporate sectors? Do corporate sectors use dance therapy in any way?

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