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Dance/Movement Therapy

DMT Training

Becoming a Dance/Movement Therapist

Note: Much of the information below is outdated. Also, the ADTA majorly revamped their website at some point, and most of my links to the ADTA site no longer work. I have updated some but not all of these links. However, the ADTA website is now much easier to navigate, and so you can probably find the information you seek relatively easily.

Table of Contents

About Dance/Movement Therapy
What Do Dance/Movement Therapists Do?
    What Degree Do Dance/Movement Therapists Receive?
    Educational Information
Dance Therapy Competencies
    What do R-DMT and BC-DMT mean?
R-DMT Training Candidates - Application Process
Two Options to Receive Training
    Alternate Route
    Approved Graduate Program
Alternate Route Candidacy
More regarding Course Requirements
     Outline Of Course Requirements
My Story


About Becoming a Dance/Movement Therapist
From the American Dance Therapy Association (ADTA)

What Do Dance/Movement Therapists Do?
Dance/movement therapists work with individuals of all ages, groups and families in a wide variety of settings. They focus on helping their clients improve self-esteem and body image, develop effective communication skills and relationships, expand their movement vocabulary, gain insight into patterns of behavior, as well as create new options for coping with problems. Movement is the primary medium dance/movement therapists use for observation, assessment, research, therapeutic interaction, and interventions. Dance/movement therapists work in settings that include psychiatric and rehabilitation facilities, schools, nursing homes, drug treatment centers, counseling centers, medical facilities, crisis centers, and wellness and alternative health care centers. Dance/movement therapy can be a powerful tool for stress management and the prevention of physical and mental health problems.

What Degree Do Dance/Movement Therapists Receive?
Professional training is on the graduate level. Graduates receive a master's degree in dance/movement therapy or related degree title. Graduates from an "approved" dance/movement therapy program are eligible for the R-DMT ( Registered-Dance/Movement Therapist ) credential.

Educational Information
Dance/movement therapists are master’s prepared therapists. There are several routes to obtaining dance/movement therapy graduate education. Some institutions offer training programs that have been approved by ADTA. These programs are regularly reviewed and meet standards set by ADTA. It is also possible to obtain dance/movement therapy training via Alternate Route courses and training experiences to supplement a master’s degree in a related discipline.

A complete listing of Educational Programs for dance/movement therapy is located on the Educational Information Page, including approved programs, other graduate programs, Alternate Route opportunities, and international programs.

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Dance Therapy Competencies

All education and training should lead to the following competencies:

  1. Integration of knowledge and skill generic to dance/movement therapy theory and practice where emphasis is on utilization of dance/movement therapy as the process of intervention.
  2. Knowledge of dance, movement skills, and aesthetic values.
  3. Demonstration of a systematized approach to movement observation, assessment and evaluation.
  4. Knowledge of individual and group psychodynamics and process.
  5. Knowledge of the human body and its functioning.
  6. Understanding of treatment goals and approaches with a variety of patient/client populations, based, in part on direct experience in a clinical setting.
  7. Understanding research design and methodology.
  8. Responsibility for professional self-evaluation.
  9. Understanding of one’s professional role and responsibilities within various settings.

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What do R-DMT and BC-DMT mean?
R-DMT represents attainment of a basic level of competence, signifying both the first level of entry into the profession and the individual's preparedness for employment as a dance/movement therapist within a clinical and/or educational setting.

BC-DMT is the advanced level of dance/movement therapy practice, signifying both the second level of competence for the profession and the individual's preparedness to provide training and supervision in dance/movement therapy, as well as engage in private practice.

R-DMT – Dance Therapist Registered
Therapists with this title have a Masters Degree and are fully qualified to work in a professional treatment system. R-DMT's have completed the following:

  • Master’s degree in D/MT (720 hours or 48 credits).
  • 700-hour BC-DMT-supervised internship.
  • These requirements can be pursued via an ADTA-approved graduate program, or via “Alternate Route” (see below).

BC-DMT – Board Certified Dance/Movement Therapist
This is the advanced level of registry, signifying that an individual has the education and experience to teach dance/movement therapy and to supervise interns. BC-DMT's have completed the following:

  • Achieved R-DMT
  • Minimum of 3,640 paid clinical hours, supervised by an BC-DMT.
  • Additional requirements including theory and session essays.
  • In order to teach D/MT courses, one must have an BC-DMT.

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R-DMT Training Candidates - Application Process

Dance Experience Requirement
In order to pursue D/MT, the requirement is "Five years of concentrated study and practice leading to competence in at least one traditional dance form such as modern, ballet, jazz, tap, folk or ethnic."

The rationale, as I understand it, is to ensure that D/MT practitioners have a broad range of movement competency, just like it would be hard to be a music therapist if you are tone-deaf and cannot carry a tune. In other words, a clinician who implements movement-based interventions needs to have individual kinesthetic access to the largest possible range of movement in order to meet the movement needs of his or her clients.

I suspect that it is possible for someone to be a highly competent mover with a strong kinesthetic sense without having taken these traditional dance classes – and it might be possible to pursue D/MT even without these five years of experience, and that would be something to discuss and work out between the individual, their instructor(s), and the credentialing committee of the ADTA.

For further information write to American Dance Therapy Association (ADTA), 2000 Century Plaza, Suite l08, 10632 Little Patuxent Parkway, Columbia, Maryland 21044-3263, for materials on the Alternate Route R-DMT requirements.

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Two Options to Receive Training

Alternate Route (which is what I am doing)
The Alternate Route requires a master's degree, specific dance/movement therapy courses and supervised internships. I have taken most of my courses with Dr. Leslie Armeniox through the Center for Creative Counseling and Dance Movement Studies in Greensboro, NC.

  • Designed for folks who already have a Master’s degree in a “related field” (such as counseling, psychology, social work…. and education, I believe).
  • Course requirements can be taken from any number of qualified BC-DMT’s (such as Dr. Leslie Armeniox, Center for Creative Counseling, in Greensboro, NC).
  • Internship arrangements are made by the student, in conjunction with a qualified BC-DMT.

Approved Graduate Program
ADTA approves programs that meet the requirements stated in the ADTA Standards for Graduate Dance/Movement Therapy Programs. Graduates from approved Dance/Movement Programs meet all professional requirements for Registry (R-DMT Level).

  • I am not entirely sure about how this option works, since I am not doing it. However, my impression is that there are only a handful of these programs in the country (hence the option of Alternate Route, below).
  • My understanding is that this route provides a full program (all 720 hours) of D/MT graduate coursework within a university setting.
  • If someone already has a Master’s degree, I am not sure what that means in this setting – I would hope that one can “transfer” the relevant courses and have them count toward the R-DMT… but I do not really know.

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Alternate Route Candidacy

Also see Training Options - Alternate Route, above.

To pursue the Alternate Route, one must first have a Master’s degree in a “related field(such as counseling, psychology, social work, education). Ideally, this degree will fulfill the bulk of your "General Training" requirements, which account for over a third of the entire required coursework (see bottom of page).

The following information is very important!
The General Training requirements for the R-DMT involve the study and practice of psychology. Thus someone with a Master's degree in Education is unlikely to have fulfilled these General Training requirements, and will ultimately have more coursework to complete than someone whose Master's degree did provide them with this training.

The Alternate Route is typically not something that is offered as a full-on “Program,” although courses within a particular setting are often offered “in order.” In some ways Alternate Route is a “piece it together as you go” route to receiving D/MT training. For example, Dr. Armeniox’s range of course offerings do not necessarily provide the full 450 hours of D/MT coursework needed for the R-DMT, so her students generally obtain some of their training through other resources (also, it is a good idea to receive your training from more than just one instructor anyway – to insure diversity of learning etc). This can be done with another BC-DMT who is offering courses, via someplace like Kinections in Rochester, NY, or any number of other resources (see the ADTA website). An Alternate Route student can fulfill the coursework via as many different settings as they want – and some students opt to take some of their courses at international settings, or travel to different states to take courses with various D/MT “Gurus.” It can be a bit of a headache to keep up with which course requirements have been completed and which have not – since it is not part of a single set Program, it is mostly up to the student to design and fulfill their own Plan of Study – in conjunction with someone like Dr. Armeniox or with someone on the Credentials Committee (I presume). It is not neat and easy and straightforward like a university type grad school.

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More Regarding Course Requirements

If you pursue the R-DMT via the Alternate Route, you can expect it to take between 2 and 4 years. Costwise for Alternate Route, a 15 hour course can run anywhere from $200 to $700 per course. Thus, 450 hours for the "D/MT Training" component is 30 15-hour classes, and so you can expect to spend $10,000 to $20,000 over the course of your studies. Whatever "General Training" courses you need would be in additon. Note that an approved graduate program could cost double or triple that to complete the entire program.

The R-DMT Course Requirements total 48-credits, or 720 hours (details below under “Outline of Course Requirements”) – this is equivalent to the number of credits/hours for your average Master’s degree. Since I already had a Master’s degree in Counseling when I began, I had already fulfilled requirements for 18 credits (270 hours), leaving me a total of 30 credits (450 hours) remaining in the “D/MT Training” category.

Outline Of Course Requirements
15 hours = 1 credit
45 hours = 3 credits = equivalent of one typical university-type semester-long 45-hour course

General Training – TOTAL 270 hours (18 credits) - This is where you have an advantage if your Master's Degree was in a psychology-related field.

  • Research Design and Methodology – 45 hours (3 credits)
  • Abnormal Psychology – 45 hours (3 credits)
  • Developmental Psychology – 45 hours (3 credits)
  • Group processes/dynamics – 45 hours (3 credits)
  • Advanced Counseling Psychology courses – 90 hours (6 credits)

D/MT Training – TOTAL 450 hours (30 credits)

  • D/MT Theory & Practice – 270 hours (18 credits)
  • Group Processes in D/MT – 45 hours (3 credits)
  • Movement Observation and Practice – 90 hours (6 credits)
  • Anatomy/Kinesiology – 45 hours (3 credits)

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My Story

I began my Alternate Route coursework after having already received my MS in Counseling at UNCG. Thus, I had already fulfilled all of the “General Training” coursework requirements for the R-DMT.

After three years of working on the “D/MT Training” Coursework, I have taken a total of approximately 26 courses for a total of 395 of the required 450 hours. The number of hours earned for each of these 26 courses ranged from 15 to 40 hours over 3 to 5 days. I have 45 hours of coursework remaining (one 15 hour D/MT course plus one 30 hour course in kinesiology), and I am most of the way through my 700 hour internship.

Most of my courses have been taken with Dr. Leslie Armeniox through the Center for Creative Counseling and Dance Movement Studies in Greensboro, NC. Two of my courses (one 15-hour weekend course, one 30-hour week-long course) were taken at Kinections, in Rochester, New York.

I could also have fulfilled the R-DMT course requirements by taking courses from any qualified BC-DMT with an ADTA-approved course syllabus. The reason I have taken most of my courses from Dr. Armeniox is because of convenience, since I live in Greensboro.

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3707-D West Market St
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