What does a Movement Therapist do?

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  • Written By: Sheri Cyprus
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 09 November 2019
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A movement therapist helps individuals develop physically, mentally and emotionally by creative expression through dance. Movement therapists may work in private practice or in a community-based environment. Persons needing the professional help of a movement therapist may have behavioral or emotional problems or developmental delays. Movement therapists plan, execute and evaluate movement therapy programs to meet individual needs.

Although movement therapy programs are often attended by a group, the movement therapist must monitor each individual’s progress to be sure his or her therapeutic needs are being met within the group setting. Movement therapists may conduct group or individual movement therapy sessions in prisons, hospitals, schools, senior's homes or in their own business setting. If they work in community settings, physical therapists are usually employed by community organizations, but if they work in their own business environment, they are likely to be self-employed. The movement therapist may work as part of a team with other types of therapists involved in providing care for a client.

The first duty a movement therapist has when beginning work with a new client is to develop a therapy program that will work with the client's condition, such as a physical injury, mental impairment or substance abuse problem. Movement therapists then teach and train clients how to express their feelings and thoughts through movements to music. They take their client's music and dance style preferences into consideration when planning movement therapy programs.


Movement therapists must evaluate their clients' progress throughout the movement therapy program. They are trained to analyze a client's state of thinking and feeling by his or her physical movements. A movement therapist helps clients create new movements. They usually spend time researching new developments in the field of movement therapy.

A dance movement psychotherapist is another name for a movement therapist. Dance movement psychotherapists or movement therapists work under the occupational category of creative arts therapists. They are not producers or coaches that help people improve their skills to work in the professional music or dance industry, but are educated and trained therapists. A movement therapist may require up to six years of college and training before working professionally in that career.


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