How do I Become a Movement Therapist?

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  • Written By: Sandra Koehler
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 10 November 2019
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Movement therapy, also referred to as mind-body exercise, is a type of therapy involving physical exercise, body awareness, breathing techniques and a form of meditation. It is often useful for people wishing to manage their own well-being. In order to become a movement therapist, advance training is necessary. Many people interested in movement therapy also have an interest in alternative therapies such as yoga or Quigong, a technique used to balance the chi, or life force energy in the body.

In order to become a movement therapist, you must have a general background and love of dance. Dance education should include general techniques, choreography and general teaching experience. A general education in such things as anatomy and physiology, the study of the body and how it works, and kinesiology, or how the body moves, are also required. Volunteering in places such as summer camps, nursing homes and dance schools are excellent ways to determine if an advanced degree in movement therapy is the right option for you.

Since movement therapists work with individuals with emotional, social, cognitive or behavioral conditions coupled with physical conditions, such as pain issues, physical limitations or general de-conditioning, movement therapists must obtain training, and in most cases an advanced degree. It is recommended that movement therapist education is approved by the ADTA, or the American Dance Therapy Association.


The Dance Therapist Registry (DTR) or Academy of Dance Therapist Registry (ADTR), is an advance level registry that ensures the level of education, training and experience of a movement therapist. It signifies a level of expertise commensurable to teach movement therapy in a variety of settings. Movement therapy courses are required to be taught by an ADTR instructor, and after completion of your education, you will be eligible to apply.

But there are alternative methods to attain the knowledge and credentials required to become a movement therapist. Some movement therapy professionals obtain a movement therapy graduate degree. Others obtain training through alternative routes to supplement an existing master’s degree. The alternative route is for individuals who are studying or have completed study in a related field, such as psychology or special education, and have an extensive interest and background in dance or movement.

To become a movement therapist, you must obtain a graduate degree from an approved degree program in dance/movement therapy. This assures you meet all the professional requirements necessary for Registry. Currently there are six graduate degree programs approved by the ADTA. More information regarding the specifics of a movement therapist career can be found at the American Dance Therapy Association.


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