Choosing the best dance therapy course requires becoming familiar with the range of available courses, investigating the credentialing requirements in your area and possibly selecting a dance therapy specialty. Dance therapy programs typically offer courses in dance technique, assessment of bodily movements, ethics, psychopathology, counseling methods and supervised fieldwork. Specializing in assisting people of specific age groups, developmental disabilities or cultural backgrounds also might play a role in dance therapy course choices. Researching local requirements for becoming a licensed mental health professional and dance therapist also is an important step before you choose a course.
Dance therapy programs typically offer courses that equip the aspiring dance therapist with skills in the areas of psychological assessment, counseling and creative arts therapy. The right dance therapy course supports the overall goals of the dance therapy student by strengthening mental health assessment skills, counseling techniques and dance skills. For the student whose dance training took place long ago, the best dance therapy courses might focus on dance technique or improvisation. A strong dancer who is new to the field of mental health therapy might concentrate more on courses that address interpretation of body language, psychological diagnosis and counseling techniques.
A dance therapy specialization also is an important consideration before you select a dance therapy course. Working with young children, for example, requires knowledge of their developmental needs and effective dance therapy exercises and counseling methods. Individuals who have disabilities also have special needs and require experienced dance therapists who have taken relevant courses and understand how to appropriately tailor therapy sessions. The desire to work with adults of particular cultural backgrounds also might guide your dance therapy course selection, and you might focus on courses that address cultural interpretations of movement or cultural taboos. In virtually all cases, taking courses from instructors who have extensive experience in that specialty area is important for gaining exposure to the most relevant issues and effective counseling techniques.
Researching credentialing requirements also plays a role in course selection. Dance therapy is a form of mental health counseling and generally requires special licensing before patients can be treated. A national certifying association, for example, might require a specific number of courses related to dance or counseling skills. Local licensing standards also must be considered in order to select courses that satisfy the necessary requirements. Investigating these requirements might lead you to select a specific dance therapy program, studying courses that can prepare you for licensing exams and/or enrolling in courses that involve guided fieldwork or dance therapy internships.