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Dance Therapy Today: An Overview of the Profession and Its Practice Around the World


Abstract and Figures

Humans have used dance as a healing art since the beginning of human history, but dance therapy has only begun to be recognized as a formal profession since the mid-1940s. At that time, dancers living in the USA began using dance as a therapeutic medium in health-care settings. Since then, the field has expanded across the world, with dance therapists now practicing in most countries. Professional associations have been established, training courses set up, and processes for registering therapists with government authorities implemented. This article provides an international overview of these developments. Detailed information about progress and challenges in the advancement of the dance therapy profession is offered across six world regions. Progress includes expansion of geographic range to countries where no formal training or networks exist, including many developing nations. Barriers to progress include lack of university-based accredited training and low numbers of professionals, making the establishment of a critical mass of practitioners difficult. Suggestions for future development of the profession internationally are made.
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Creative Arts in Education and Therapy – Eastern and Western Perspectives – Vol. 7, Issue 2, December 2021.
© 2021 Inspirees International.
Creative Arts Educ Ther (1) ():158–186 DOI: 10.15212/caet/2021/7/13
Dance Therapy Today: An Overview of the Profession
andItsPractice Around the World
Kim Dunphy1, Dita Federman2, Diana Fischman3, Amber Gray4,
Vincenzo Puxeddu5, Tony Yu Zhou6 and Ella Dumaresq1
1University of Melbourne, Australia
2University of Haifa, Israel
3Brecha, Argentina
4The Kint Institute, USA
5Université de Paris, France
6Inspirees Institute, China
Humans have used dance as a healing art since the beginning of human history, but dance ther-
apy has only begun to be recognized as a formal profession since the mid-1940s. At that time,
dancers living in the USA began using dance as a therapeutic medium in health-care settings.
Since then, the eld has expanded across the world, with dance therapists now practicing in
most countries. Professional associations have been established, training courses set up, and
processes for registering therapists with government authorities implemented. This article pro-
vides an international overview of these developments. Detailed information about progress
and challenges in the advancement of the dance therapy profession is offered across six world
regions. Progress includes expansion of geographic range to countries where no formal training
or networks exist, including many developing nations. Barriers to progress include lack of uni-
versity-based accredited training and low numbers of professionals, making the establishment
of a critical mass of practitioners difcult. Suggestions for future development of the profession
internationally are made.
Keywords: dance therapy, dance movement therapy (DMT), professional practice, training, registration
自人类历史开始以来,人类就将舞蹈作为一种疗愈的艺术。但自 1940 年代中期以来,
关键词: 舞蹈治疗,舞蹈动作治疗,专业实践,培训,注册
Dance Therapy Today: An Overview of the Profession and Its Practice Around the World 159
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We present the ndings of a project to document the current state of dance therapy or
dance movement therapy (DMT) across the world, undertaken as the rst initiative of
the rst global dance therapy association, the World Alliance for Dance Movement
This article focuses on the formal profession of DMT as it was recognized rst
in the USA in the 1940s and then in other places around the world since then. At that
time, dancers living in the USA began using dance as a therapeutic medium in health-
care settings and gradually began to establish evidence to support this work. Since
then, the eld has expanded across the world, with dance therapists now practicing in
the majority of countries. Training courses have been set up, professional associations
established and processes for registering therapists with government authorities
Although DMT is a relatively recently recognized profession, human beings have
utilized dance as a healing and transformative art since the beginning of our history
(Nemetz, 2006). People from most of the world’s cultures have expressed themselves by
moving together to a common rhythm before important events such as harvests, hunts,
and wars and in times of transition such as birth, puberty, marriage, and death (Dunphy
2020). Feelings and emotions have always been shared through common participation
in movement (Schmais & White, 1986). In Australia, Aboriginal and Torres Strait
Islander people practice the oldest living culture on the planet, in which dance has
been inextricably interwoven with other artforms to address and advance the cultural,
physical, social, mental, spiritual, and environmental health of its members (Perkins &
Langton, 2008; Dunphy & Ware, 2019). Other indigenous peoples have long histories
of healing dance practice.
Africa, a continent which prior to colonization had more uid, tribally dened
boundaries that are now dened geopolitically, is rich with dance forms that evolved
from ancient communal and spiritual practices. Many African dances will be known
as pertaining to a modern country, but often these dances are found in more than
one country. African dances also travelled to other parts of the world when people
were enslaved in colonies far from their homes. Brazil and the Caribbean have dance
forms and ritual practices that derive from African roots. In Haiti, healing, celebration,
mourning, and assisting the recently departed to return to their ancestral home “Ginee
bas dlo,” which literally means “Ginee (ancestral homeland) below the waters (a tribute
to all who drowned in the middle passage),” are all rituals that are danced, drummed,
prayed, and sung. Each spirit in the pantheon of Vodou (Haitis rich spiritual tradition;
Vodou means “energy” or “inquiry into the unknown”) has a song, rhythm, and dance
attributed to it (Gray, 2008). In Asia, since ancient times, dance has played an important
role in ritual, spiritual, and healing practices, including reverence for nature. Asian
dances also carry a strong relationship with different religious practices, particularly
for Buddhist, Hindu, and Islamic religions (Ho, 2021).
However, this article does not focus on earlier practices, but only those
currently recognized as DMT, which we dene as requiring the leadership of a
160 Kim Dunphy et al.
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DMT practitioner who has formal training, is recognized or registered with a DMT
professional association, and who works with client/s in a formal arrangement or
Worldwide, there is no real consensus regarding a universal name for the
profession. Several terms are used in different countries, for example, dance therapy,
dance movement therapy, dance/movement therapy, dance movement psychotherapy
(DMP). For the sake of convenience, DMT is abbreviation used in this article.
However, it is important to be aware of the different contexts in which therapeutic
dance and movement are used across cultures: in some cultures and contexts, dance is
a stronger focus, and in others, the “movement” aspect is more prominent. Although
the formalized profession of DMT has been mainly developed and evolved in the
west, the eld reects elements and methods from other cultures and is practiced in
diverse ways around the globe. As the authors of this ambitious article, we would like
to encourage equal and active global dialogue in any discussion around terminology.
We are mindful of the Eurocentric bias that has traditionally shaped the eld and
suggest this article might contribute toward further discussion, debate, and critical
discourse. Decolonizing knowledge is an ongoing endeavor, and we welcome further
dialogue with members of the eld, both far and wide.
The article begins with a literature review of material documenting the development
of the DMT profession throughout the world, including country-specic advances and
particular clinical issues in specic regions. It then articulates our research questions
and the method used to gather data. Findings document the history of development of
DMT, training, and professional associations across six world regions: Asia, Australia/
New Zealand, Europe, North, Central and South America, and one country from the
Middle East. The article concludes with documentation of the rst initiatives to establish
a global organization for dance therapists.
Literature review
The development of the DMT profession throughout the world has been documented
in a modest number of articles. These include information about country-specic
developments from the Asia-Pacic, Europe, Israel, UK, and USA as well as articles
that address a particular clinical issue in specic countries.
Literature about DMT in Australia includes a focus on the pioneering inuence of
Hanny Exiner, whose work helped shape DMT practice there (Bond, 2008) and the
development of the profession and professional practice (Denning, 2017; Dunphy,
Hearnes, & Toumbourou, 2009; Sullivan, 2007). Articles about DMT in Asia include
a culturally specic application in incorporating traditional practices of folk song and
yarn weaving to stimulate reminiscence in late-life dementia (Arakawa-Davis, 1997).
In Taiwan, documentation includes the emergence of DMT through early work in
hospitals and the establishment of the Taiwanese DMT Association (Lee, 2004) and
DMT applications for locals during the SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome)
crisis and with children after an earthquake (Lee, 2004). In China, a pilot study of DMT
with cancer patients is documented (Ho, 2005) and in Korea, a conference was held to
Dance Therapy Today: An Overview of the Profession and Its Practice Around the World 161
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celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Korean DMT association (Owen, 2014). A pilot
program trialed in post-conict nation Timor-Leste is evaluated by Australian dance
movement (DM) therapists (Dunphy, Jordan, & Elton, 2014).
Articles specically about DMT in Europe include a discussion of academic, cultural,
and economic factors inuencing the development of DMT in Estonia (Nordstrom-Loeb,
2012) and the emergence of psychodynamic movement and dance therapy (PMDT) in
Hungary, as championed by Márta Merényi (Vermes & Incze, 2012).
Within the UK, the emergence of the Association for Dance Movement Therapy in
the early 1980s and a collaborative training program between Hahnemann University
(Philadelphia) and the London Centre for Movement and Dance are documented by
Higgens (1992). The pioneering of DMT in the UK is reported in Meekums’ article
(2008) through the perspectives of nine early leaders: Leah Bartal, Lynn Crane, Sarah
Holden, Fran Lavendel, Jeannette MacDonald, Bonnie Meekums, Helen Payne, Kedzie
Peneld, and Marie Ware. A nationwide survey of DMT professionals in the UK
includes data about work settings, client groups, and preferred theoretical approaches
(Zubala & Karkou, 2015).
In the USA, Miller, Aaron-Cort, and White presented an overview of the history of
the American Dance Therapy Association (ADTA) in the celebration of the association’s
50th anniversary in 2016. This includes focus on internal and external factors that
supported the establishment of nationally accepted standards for DM therapists. The
ADTA reported ndings of a national survey and practice analysis (2016).
A brief overview of creative arts therapies in Israel, including DMT and creative arts
therapies in special education, is offered by Berrol (1989). She posits two factors that
have advanced DMT in that nation—favorable conditions afforded by ubiquitous use of
song and dance in religious and ritual worship and supportive policy initiatives that have
enhanced its integration into special education. The effects of mothers’ participation in
DMT sessions with children in Israel is also documented (Regev, Kedem, & Guttmann,
Global developments
Another set of articles overviewing DMT developments globally include those by Appel
(2005), Dulicai and Berger (2005), Nemetz (2006), and Guthrie (2009). Appel reports on
developments in Canada, Argentina, Israel, and various European and Asian countries
from the perspective of American DM therapists who lived and worked there. Dulicai
and Berger document the international expansion of the profession through survey results
from DM therapists from more than 37 countries, with topics including training, training
standards, association, and professional work and its settings. Guthrie presents data from
a survey comparing pathways taken for advancement of the eld, with a specic focus on
Australian pathways and the complexities involved in achieving professional recognition.
The importance of training in achieving professional recognition is highlighted, and
alliances with other organizations were suggested for advancement of the profession.
Reports from the international panel at ADTA conferences capture more global
developments. In 2015, representatives from Turkey, China, Taiwan, Germany, Russia,
162 Kim Dunphy et al.
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Australia, Netherlands, Japan, South Korea, and Italy discussed the global emergence
of DMT in their countries. This included historical and cultural connections to dance
and DMT and future prospects for growth (Capello, 2016). The following year,
representatives from Hungary, Greece, Belgium, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Costa
Rica, Vietnam, China, and Australia shared perspectives about DMT in their countries,
addressing themes of current status and future considerations (Capello, 2017).
Finally, a small number of articles document research in DMT. Cruz and Harvey
(2001) explore research needs as identied by 1,178 American DM therapists.
Although respondents were almost unanimous that research is urgently needed for
the professions advancement, relatively few identied its value for their own practice.
The rst international DMT research colloquium in Germany involved 22 researchers
presenting ndings from doctoral studies or clinical research. Topics included DMT
with oncological patients, in the treatment of bromyalgia, and for dealing with stress
and psychological strain (Koch & Bräuninger, 2005). Cruz (2016) reports advances
in empirical research, notably the centrality of research for the profession’s ongoing
growth and development. She posits that the signicance of embodiment for DMT has
laid a solid foundation for the profession, particularly keeping it aligned with other
globally emerging body–mind trends. Recently, Wengrower and Chaiklin (2021) have
expanded the discourse further by drawing together international voices from around
the world. The editors and individual authors offer a rich and original contribution to
the eld, showcasing the global prole of DMT as practiced across various continents.
Cultural diversity is clearly apparent in this publication, as authors present a vast array
of DMT models from around the world. Dance and creativity are explored from the
standpoint of Indian colleagues as well as Japanese and Korean authors; perspectives
from the USA and Europe are also included. The result is rigorous synthesis of global
advances in DMT research and practice and a celebration of the culturally diverse
nature of the profession (Figure 1).
Research questions
This article reports investigation on three aspects of the DMT profession’s
development: history, training, and professional associations. The history of the
profession in each region includes information about when DMT was formally
identied as beginning and inuential innovators and activities they undertook to
establish the profession. The second focus is training and education developments in
each region: the development and professional contexts of training programs. Finally,
the article documents the establishment and advancement of professional associations
around the world.
The method followed by authors, who are senior DMT professionals, educators, and
researchers from across the world, was rst to draw on their own knowledge of the
DMT profession in their region to respond to our questions. Information was also drawn
from published articles and websites of local associations, where they are existing, to
Dance Therapy Today: An Overview of the Profession and Its Practice Around the World 163
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FIGURE 1 | 360 Degree of Witness. Image by Amber Gray.
support these perspectives. Additional information was sought from practitioners in
other countries in their regions with whom the authors had personal connections. A
questionnaire used to elicit this information is attached as Appendix 1 and the list of
respondents as Appendix 2.
Other countries and regions with whom we did not have contacts and were unable
to nd published literature are not covered in this article. This includes the entire
continent of Africa, much of the Middle East, and many places in South America, Asia,
and the Pacic region.
This section reports our ndings including survey responses about DMT across the
seven regions: Africa, Asia, Oceania, Europe, North America, South America and the
Middle East.
To our collective knowledge, South Africa is the only country on the African continent
that is developing a formal DMT program. The authors acknowledge the continent’s
long history of healing dance, the knowledge of which is held by many unknown
164 Kim Dunphy et al.
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colleagues there as well as many of our colleagues in the countries we live in. We include
a link to the ADTAs Black Magic Afnity Group for those interested in connecting to
colleagues with expertise in African dance and healing (
South Africa has a handful of dance therapists registered by the South African
government agency that is responsible for all creative arts therapy licenses. They
have all trained outside of the country since there is no formal academic dance
therapy training program yet on the African continent, to the best of the authors’
knowledge. DMT Vivien Marcow-Speiser, with colleagues at the University of the
Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, is co-developing the rst dance therapy training
program in South Africa. As Marcow-Speiser suggests, “there is tremendous interest
and efcacy in using dance and ritual in the service of collective healing and the
transformation of individual and collective consciousness throughout the continent.
And of course, this includes the many populations there in distress and under duress.
And add in COVID-19 and the disparities of resources between the global north and
the global south, I think the arts have a tremendous role to play in the post COVID-
19 world there as around the world” (personal communication, March 23, 2021).
This section focuses primarily on the regions of East Asia and South Asia where DMT
is relatively more developed (Zhou et al., 2019). East Asian countries such as China,
Japan, and South Korea share similar cultural and historical roots based in Confucian,
Taoist, and Buddhist religions. In these cultures, the body and mind have traditionally
been considered a unity, where the “body” in its wider denition includes both physical
and spiritual aspects. Such culturally embedded understandings of embodiment are
similar in many respects to some of the main beliefs and values in which dance therapy
is grounded (Zhou, 2015). Although the westernized practice of dance therapy is now
recognized and practiced professionally in this region of the world, this has taken place
in a context already rich in body–mind healing practices. Dance, as a way of living and
practicing well-being, has been perceived and practiced differently in Asia throughout
history both in daily life by common people and on stage by performance artists,
making it more accessible for the public.
Most these Asian countries share a similar story in developing the recent dance
therapy by introducing the western forms of dance therapy into their countries.
Some early teachers trained in Europe or the USA before returning to their
homeland to begin their practice. In China, this began with Lotus Fucius who
returned to Beijing in 1995 from her training in the USA and began combining
dance therapy with traditional Chinese medicine. Fucius’ work was later expanded
by Dutch dance therapist Zvika Frank, who was invited by Dr. Tony Zhou to visit
China in 2004. Since then, the profession has quickly gained momentum in China
( American-trained dance therapist, Lee
Tsungchin, began practicing dance therapy in the psychiatric department at the
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Taipei Veterans General Hospital in Taiwan in the 1980s. In Hong Kong, American-
trained dance therapist Dr. Rainbow Ho pioneered dance therapy in her region
through her academic position and expressive arts therapy postgraduate program at
the University of Hong Kong since 2001. Similarly in the 1990s, Dr. Boon Soon Ryu
rst introduced dance therapy in Korea modeled on ADTAs framework. In Japan,
dance therapy was being used in the 1970s to support hospitalized psychiatric
patients. Interestingly, this earlier application of dance therapy in Japan was not
informed by American and European dance therapy theory and practice, as it was in
other countries in this region, but by its own folk dance. These earlier practitioners
essentially discontinued their practice as more western-informed forms of dance
therapy became the professional standard. A similar narrative is apparent in India,
with a handful of dance therapists returning to India after training to cultivate a
dance therapy practice based on western-oriented dance therapy training embedded
in cultural movement forms. The early wave of dance therapy in India is understood
to have been pioneered by Tripura Kashyap, who returned from training in the
USA in 1988 and began developing her dance therapy practice within the context of
mental health. Dr. Sohini Chakraborty established herself in 2004 in the East. The
second wave with Rashi Bijlani, Ritu Shree, and Anshuma Kshetrapal in the north,
Devika Mehta and Dilshad Patel in the West, and Preetha Ramasubramian, Tarana
Khatri, and Brinda Jacob Janvrin in South India.
At this stage, as far as we are aware, only small numbers of dance therapists are
working independently in other countries in Asia. This includes dance therapists trained
in the UK, the USA, and Australia returning to work in their home countries of Malaysia,
the Philippines, and Vietnam. Currently, Thailand has a few dance/movement therapists
who have graduated from both the USA and the UK in dance therapy. There is a growing
academic and professional focus in Thailand on the use of creative arts therapy to
facilitate well-being and other therapeutic objectives. The University of Chulalongkorn
is actively collaborating with the University of Haifa, Israel, to develop a dance therapy
academic program. The Faculty of Fine Arts of Srinakharinwirot University also offers
an elective course in dance therapy. Students from University of Haifa are currently
undertaking internships in various places in Thailand with clients including patients
with Parkinson disease and children in various institutions.
Asian countries are becoming increasingly aware of their own identities and strength
among the early inuences from the West. More local DMT professionals are starting
their own approaches adapted to local culture and situation and expanding their work
beyond clinical setting to education, community, well-being, and corporate settings.
As is the case with the historical emergence of dance therapy within Asia, western-
informed dance therapy has largely shaped the development of training within this
region. This can be seen in alignment of a number of training programs with the ADTA
model. In South Korea, for example, the rst training was established by Ryu Boon Soon.
This was followed in 2001 by a master’s program with a major in DMT established at
Seoul Women’s University and an ADTA-accredited Alternate Route training course.
166 Kim Dunphy et al.
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Jeonju University in Korea newly opened DMT program which offers Master and Ph.D
degree program in 2021. This DMT program is running by Dr. Ko Kyung Soon under
the division of Creative Arts therapy with Art therapy and music therapy.
There is growing interest in dance therapy in Chinese universities, but no academic
program has been set up yet in the mainland. However, several universities have started
creative arts therapy master research programs that incorporate dance therapy module.
The inuence from the West is also evident in ADTA Alternate Route accredited courses
designed by Joan Wittig and run by Inspirees Institute in Beijing, Shanghai, and Hong
Kong since 2010 (Figure 2). Courses offered by Apollo are based on a German Dance
Movement Therapy Association model since 2011. More than 500 students have entered the
two training programs. Among them, more than 80 students have now been fully trained as
FIGURE 2 | A Singaporean student in China training program. Image courtesy of Inspirees
Dance Therapy Today: An Overview of the Profession and Its Practice Around the World 167
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dance therapists with some ten graduates accredited by ADTA or the German Association.
In Hong Kong, dance therapy courses have been held in the University of Hong Kong since
2004 through regular workshops and the master of expressive arts therapy program.
In Taiwan, Professor Tsungchin Lee has provided dance therapy training based on
local practice and research experiences since 1987. She is the founder of Taiwan Dance
Therapy Association (TDTA) and had provided trainings for senior dance-therapist-
trainers within the TDTA. Currently, dance therapy training opportunities are available
through TDTA, dance therapy courses provided in several universities, as well as
TWNZ, a collaborative training programme supported by NZ Certicate program and
Taiwanese DMTs, founded by DM Psychotherapist Jacquelyn Wan.
In Vietnam, the “Vietnam dance/movement therapy” (Tr liệu Ma/Chuyển động) is
currently developing a training program. This is being led by Minh Bui, who is designing
the course in alignment with DTAA competency standards (Denning, Dunphy, &
Lauffenburger, 2019) as well as Vietnamese regulations for higher education. Short
introduction courses are being run at present (4–6 weeks), and these advance courses
will be accredited toward the full program.
In Japan, several non-academic courses enable participants to gain credits to become
a DM therapist. In India, the rst master’s in expressive movement therapy has been
launched in 2021 at Sancheti Healthcare Academy (Savitribai Phule University). Two
diploma programs are offered, one at St. Meeras College (Savitribai Phule University)
and other at Centre for Lifelong Learning (TISS). The above three programs are run in
collaboration with pioneering dance therapy organizations. Several private institutions
offer unaccredited and foundational-level courses in dance therapy. In Thailand, an
MA degree in arts therapies is offered at the University of Chulangkorn, Bangkok, in
cooperation with the University of Haifa, Israel.
Professional associations
A number of professional associations are active in this region. These include the
Japan Dance Therapy Association established in 1992, the Taiwan Dance Therapy
Association, and the Hong Kong Dance Movement Therapy Association. Korea has
three professional associations: the rst, Korean Dance Therapy Association, which
is currently the largest, was established by Ryu Boon Soon (KDMPA, 2018), the
Korean Chum Therapy Association, and the Korean Society of Dance/Movement
Psychotherapy, which was established in 2010 by graduates of American programs who
returned to Korea after studies in the 1990s and early 2000s (KSDMP, 2018). A not-for-
prot organization, Creative Movement Therapy Association of India, was established
in 2014, and the Indian Association of Dance Movement Therapy was established in
2020. In 2002, a dance therapy association was established in Taiwan, where Jacquelyn
Wan established a training program that graduated seven DMTs in 2019. The current
cohort has 15 students, and music, art, and dance therapy associations there are working
for the recognition of creative arts therapies and a master’s-level program.
An ofcial professional dance therapy association has not yet been established in
China due to strict government regulation on psychotherapy. Any unofcial associations
registered out of mainland China are not legally recognized. In 2016, the Chinese Arts
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Therapy Group (CATG) was established with the leadership of Dr. Tony Zhou under the
Chinese Psychological Society. A working division on dance therapy has been set up
to work on the registration and standard (training and code of ethics) of dance therapy
in China. This group is yet to grow and integrate with other organizations in China. In
2021, the Chinese Ministry of Health has started to create a new edition of the national
guideline of psychotherapy. CATG was much involved in the creative arts therapies
chapter, including dance therapy. This was a milestone for dance therapy in China.
This section focuses on Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand, where DMT is more
strongly developed. As far as is known, there are few, if any, practitioners active in
other countries in the Oceania region.
DMT began to emerge as a profession in Australia in the late 1970s, largely out of
the practice of creative and educational dance professionals who sought to develop
the therapeutic potential of their work. However, the First Nations people of Australia
have practiced dance as a healing art for millennia, in an unbroken line to the present
day, for functions similar to those of DMT (Al-Yaman, 2016; Treloyn & Martin, 2014;
Jordan, Searle, & Dunphy, 2017; Dunphy & Ware, 2019). Likewise, the Maori people
of Aotearoa New Zealand have strong cultural dance practices that continue to be a
vibrant part of culture (Dunphy, 1996).
The rst practitioners of what has become known as the profession of DMT in
Australia were trained by both Wynelle Delaney and Hanny Exiner (Denning et
al., 2019). Delaney was a visitor from the West Coast of the USA, with whom some
Australian practitioners trained, whereas Exiner was an Austrian-born dancer,
educator, and therapist who remained in Australia. Exiner’s professional life had a
similar trajectory to the dancers who are now rst recognized early practitioners of
DMT within the USA. For instance, she was a modern dancer trained in the Middle
European tradition, who had studied under Bodenweiser and came to Australia as a
member of the Borovansky Ballet Company in the 1940s. She was strongly inuenced
by dance educator and theorist Rudolf Laban. Her medical studies led to an interest
in psychotherapy, bringing her to the intersection of dance, health, healing, medicine
and psychology, all of which informed early DMT practice (Bond, 2008; Guthrie &
Aitchison, 2008).
Exiner instigated the development of dance education and therapy training in Australia,
between the 1960s and 1980s at the Kindergarten Teachers College in Melbourne,
Victoria. This later become part of Melbourne University’s Department of Education.
Exiner’s initiative was formalized and developed by Karen Bond, an Exiner protégé
and immigrant from the USA, and the rst person to obtain a PhD in DMT in Australia.
The graduate diploma in movement and dance commenced in 1977 and included a
DMT stream, later becoming a graduate certicate in dance therapy. A Master of
Dance Therapy Today: An Overview of the Profession and Its Practice Around the World 169
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Education in advanced studies in movement and dance also operated at Melbourne
University during the 1990s, enabling many professionals to gain a degree in education
that underpinned their work in DMT.
Other university programs that have offered DMT comprise RMIT Melbourne’s
graduate diploma of visual and performing arts, offered from 2002 and 2006; the Wesley
Institute in Sydney, which offered DMT as part of a bachelor’s degree and later become
a graduate diploma in dance movement therapy (1996–2011). This program was led by
Evelyn Dena. Later, a diploma course was hosted by Phoenix Institute, a vocational
training institute in Melbourne (2014–2015). Nowadays, DMT training programs are
run through both independent organizations as well as universities. For example, the
International Dance Therapy Institute of Australia (established 1991) is led by US
dance therapist, Dr. Marcia Leventhal. This private institution operates in collaboration
with senior Australian practitioners and offers an advanced clinical certicate. Other
courses in Australia include an advanced clinical training offered by Tracey Nicholson
of Tensegrity Training in Brisbane; a bachelor of arts in psychotherapy that includes a
DMT elective subject (offered through a private Melbourne-based institution, Ikon):
This was developed by Jane Guthrie, Heather Hill, and Sue Mullane. In NZ, the Dance
Therapy New Zealand course (established in 2016) offers a diploma, founded by Anaia
Treefoot and Jacquelyn Jung-Hsu Wan. Recently, two masters’ programs have also been
established in the region. The Master of Dance Therapy program, founded by Anaia
Treefoot, is offered through the University of Auckland (NZ). This program launched
in 2019. Similarly, the University of Melbourne’s Master of Creative Arts Therapies
(with specializations in DMT and drama therapy) was established in 2020. This course
developed out of a longstanding music therapy program that recently expanded to
include dance and drama therapy. After completing a post-doctoral research position
at the University of Melbourne, Dr. Kim Dunphy was one of the key founders of the
As such, current training options for DMT in Australia and Aotearoa NZ include
both vocational education (VET) and university pathways. Several additional
private providers also offer professional development opportunities. University-level
qualications are taught at master’s degree level and the VET course is at AQF level
8. These programs are generally structured across two years and emphasize both
practical and theoretical learning. The programs are rigorous and provide students
with opportunities for practice in the eld, working with a variety of different client
populations under close supervision.
Professional associations
The professional association Dance Movement Therapy Association of Australia
(DTAA) was established in 1994, building on the earlier work of a dance therapy working
group of the national dance association, Ausdance. In 2004–2005, the DTAA achieved
status as a Full Member Association of the Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation
of Australia, aligning with the larger eld of psychotherapists and counselors. As yet,
there is no government process of accreditation, recognition, or regulation of DMT, as
is also the case for psychotherapist and counseling colleagues.
170 Kim Dunphy et al.
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In 2015, the organization became the Dance Movement Therapy Association of
Australasia, in recognition of the inclusion of members from New Zealand and the
wider Asia-Pacic region. The DTAA currently has approximately 200 members,
of whom 74 are formally recognized by the association as DM therapists through
their achievement of professional or provisional professional levels of membership.
Members are largely concentrated in capital cities Melbourne and Sydney, with
smaller numbers in most states and territories, Aotearoa New Zealand, and other
Asia-Pacic countries.
In 2020, DTAA became an afliate of the Allied Health Professions Australia
(AHPA) association.
The history of DMT in Europe is relatively complex, involving many different inuences,
processes, developments, and players. Primarily, this section of the article focuses on
developments in the UK, France, Germany, Greece, and Italy, which were the rst
countries involved in DMT, beginning almost simultaneously during the 1970s. The
emergence of DMT in these countries was at the time largely driven by those who had
trained to become professionals in the USA. Another stream of early dance therapists had
not trained in the USA but instead began to integrate aspects of their dance, education,
or psychology into a therapeutic dance practice including the anthropological approach
to DMT, which is a very important inuence in France, Italy, and Greece. This is based
on the work of France Schott-Billman and centers around a focus on what was known
as primitive expression which includes popular folk dances as well as anthropological
forms of gesture and movement (Plevin, 2003). In Hungary, Marta Merenyi developed
a specic psychoanalytically inspired approach: PMDT (Vermes & Incze, 2012).
In Europe, there are efforts to include DM therapists with different backgrounds
and approaches. The process of establishing the European Association of Dance
Movement Therapy (EADMT) has had continuous support. In addition, some Eastern
European countries joined the DMT network during the 1970s as well as in the 1990s
and thereafter, and there are some very young associations in this region of the world.
As well as a multitude of private training opportunities, a number of master’s- and
PhD-level studies are available across Europe. This includes the UK (Goldsmiths,
University of London, master’s program and PhD; University of Derby; University
of Roehampton), France (Université René Descartes [becoming Universitè de Paris]
master’s program with opportunity for PhD), Spain (Universidad Autonoma Barcelona
master program), Germany (University of Heidelberg master program), Latvia
(Riga Stradiņš University, master’s in art therapy, specialization dance therapy), the
Netherlands (Codarts University for the Arts), Estonia (Master Dance Therapy Tallinn
University, at the School of Natural Sciences and Health), and Lithuania (master’s
program Vilnius University).
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However, DMT is taught in many private institutions as well as university-based
educational institutions. In any kind of training program (private or university), the
European training standard is the same: master’s level (minimum 2 years and 120
European transfer credits). The EADMT (2021) website has a list of trainings in several
countries ( for example, Italy
has 9 training programs; Germany has 11; Hungary has 1; France has 2. Each member
of the EADMT has a national training program.
In October 2017, the EADMT adopted a specic European training standard to help
meet best practice demands and ensure high quality practitioners across Europe (https:// The standard level of training the
association has agreed upon is a master’s-level qualication. The intention is that full
professional EADMT members will both meet and evidence these agreed minimum
standards regarding their national accredited and/or recognized DMT training programs.
The EADMT aspires for all members to work toward these minimum standards from
2020 and will encourage and support full basic members and associate members in their
efforts to grow the DMT profession in their countries. EADMT wishes that these training
standards criteria offer a clear framework toward which to aspire, which may help in
overcoming educational differences between countries and establishing a standard of
DMT that is inclusive of the richness and diversity of all European member countries.
Professional associations
Individual associations have been established across Europe, including the Association
for Dance Movement Psychotherapy UK in 1982 (, the Société
Française de Danse Thérapie (SFDT) in 1984 (, Berufsverband der
TanztherapeutInnen Deutschlands (BTD) in 1995 (,
the Greek Association of Dance Therapy in 1993 (, and the Associazione
Professionale Italiana Danzamovimentoterapia (APID) in 1997 (
Some Eastern European countries joined DMT later than 1980s, one of the rst being
the Hungarian Association for Movement and Dance Therapy which joined in 1992
( These rst ve countries, which were invited by
APID, met in Bologna in March 1997 and formed the steering group, coordinated
rst by Vincenzo Puxeddu and later by Penelope Best for an international European
association, which became the EADM.
The formation of the UK association was led by Helen Payne along with Lynn
Crane and Catalina Garve. Payne chaired the association for the rst seven years, and
in 1996 achieved ratication for senior and basic practitioners (
about-us/history/). The French association developed out of a graduate studies program
at the University Paris-Sorbonne following the initiative of Jean-Claude Serre and other
DM therapists participating in this program and is now a full-basic member of the
The German association also represents its members in the EADMT and is currently
chaired by Hannah Bracht (German Professional Organization for Dance Therapists,
n.d). The Greek association is also a full member of the EADMT and sets the standard
for a master’s program located in Greece. The Italian association was set up in 1997 by
172 Kim Dunphy et al.
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Rosamaria Govoni, Vincenzo Puxeddu, and Vincenzo Bellia and quickly established a
two-tier membership system for both student and professional status as well as laid the
ground for accreditation which was granted 5 years later (Plevin, 2003, p. 20).
Many individual nations had organized their own professional associations, a
process that, over time, led to the formation of a European-wide association.
The idea to form a European network or association arose at the rst European
conference, held in Berlin in 1994. Through a long and collaborative process, the
EADMT was formed in 2010, bringing together 16 different national DMT professional
associations ( This represents a grouping of national
professional DMT associations in Europe, working actively to promote their further
development of professional practice and the legal recognition of the profession. The
EADMT assures and promotes the quality of DMT practice and trainings in Europe for
the protection of clients, professionals, and institutions. The EADMT aims to nurture
mutual respect of diversity and to foster exchange and collaboration between member
As of October 2020, EADMT has 28 national member countries and approximately
2419 practitioners within all Europe (Table 1). The countries most highly represented
are Germany (501 practitioners), UK (353 practitioners), Italy (264 practitioners), and
Netherlands (101 practitioners). The newest EADMT members joining in October 2020
are Lithuania and Norway.
Today, the EADMT is the main platform through which the diversity of DMT
practice in Europe nds its full expression. Europe, therefore, now has one DMT voice,
which allows for difference while sharing a commonality (Figure 3).
Middle East
This section focuses mostly on Israel, because we were unable to nd evidence of formal
DMT practice in other Middle Eastern countries. The Israeli association is the only
one known in the region. However, DMT informed work has been documented with
programs for refugees and survivors of torture in Tripoli and Beirut, Lebanon. There are
also DMT courses offered in Turkey and Lebanon, and Turkish DM therapist (Figure 4)
Seda Güney has developed dance therapy for social change and other programs, including
creative movement for the children there. In Egypt, Radwa Said Abdelazim Elfeqi writes
of her unique experience as a physician researching DMT with children and adolescents
suffering from emotional and behavioral disorders, and her efforts to introduce the work
in Egypt (Bräuninger & Elfeqi, 2019, pp. 246–247). She describes the potential for further
development of DMT there by virtue of the existence of “potent contemporary dance
schools…” that “could offer a potential basis for future dance movement therapists….”
(2019, p. 248). American DM therapist Amber Gray has provided training on her trauma-
informed DMT framework in Bethlehem in the West Bank; in Beirut, Tyre, Tripoli, and
Byblos in Lebanon, and in Istanbul in Turkey. The authors are aware that the absence of a
known formal training program or association in the majority of Middle Eastern countries
does not minimize the rich culture of traditional dance that exists there. We reached out
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TABLE 1 | National Members of the EADMT (as of August 2020)
Country Number of members
Full professional members
Estonia 7
Germany 501
Greece 43
Hungary 89
Italy 264
Latvia 39
Netherlands 103
Poland 39
Russia 43
Spain 70
UK 353
Subtotal 1551
Full basic members
Austria 62
Belgium 19
Czech 10
Finland 83
France 35
Slovenia 6
Switzerland 79
Ukraine 112
Austria 53
Subtotal 406
Associate members
Croatia 10
Cyprus 12
Denmark 21
Israel 348
Portugal 10
Romania 22
Sweden 39
Subtotal 462
Total 2419
174 Kim Dunphy et al.
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FIGURE 3 | Dance for unity. EADMT Conference, Milan, 2016.
FIGURE 4 | Lebanon DMT activity group. Image by Amber Gray.
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to colleagues and included what information we found regarding DMT in Turkey and
recognize there is much more. We encourage those interested to contact the therapists there.
In Israel, movement began to be used formally for therapeutic means in the early
1970s. This could largely be seen in the work of several dancers who began integrating
therapeutic elements of dance into their teaching. American dance therapy professionals
who inuenced DMT in Israel included Marian Chace, Dr. Vivien Marcow Speiser,
Sharon Chaiklin, and Dr. Mara Capy. They each practiced as dancers or dance teachers.
DMT was not yet recognized or known to other professions at this point. However, dance
was, and is, a strong part of the Israeli culture. Lesley College established an afliated
MA training program in Israel in 1980 and this program was formally licensed by the
Council of Higher Education in Israel as a Lesley University Extension Program in
Israel in 1995–2014. The formation of the arts therapy professional association in 1968,
and the establishment of a DMT master’s degree at the University of Haifa in 2008
enabled the stronger development of the profession.
The rst DMT program established in Israel was a certicate-level training at the
University of Haifa. This was founded by Americans, Sharon Chaiklin and Dr. Mara
Kapy, in 1980 and was situated in the Department of Education. Professor Vivien
Marcow and Norma Canner DMTs from Lesley College USA established an MA
level expressive therapies program in Israel in 1980 as an extension of Lesley college
USA. In 2008, with the establishment of the School of the Arts Therapies within the
Department of Social Welfare and Health Sciences, DMT was granted the status of an
MA, and eventually, a PhD status was also granted. Recog nized by the ADTA, the MA
program is informed by the standards of the ADTA model and bases its curriculum
largely on the US approach.
Important aspects of the course include LMA and the Kestenberg movement prole
for its assessment and diagnostic utility. Marian Chace’s approach, the Authentic
Movement approach, and group analysis are also taught. Other foci include trauma,
attachment, neurodegenerative diseases, psychiatry, multiculturalism, and social
activism. Advances in DMT are informed by developmental theory, psychodynamic
understanding, and the relational, intersubjectivity approach. A psychotherapy
framework informs many of what students learn within small group supervision.
Three other institutions in Israel offer DMT training: the Academic College of
Society, the Seminar Hakibutzim College, and David Yellin Teachers’ College. The
Seminar Hakibutzim College, and David Yellin Teachers College, were granted MArt
level in 2018. Lesley University's extension in Israel that operated from the early 1980s
turned in 2014 into the School of Society and Arts at the Ono Academic College.
Professional association
The close proximity of members within the small country of Israel supports a lively
and active engagement within the creative arts therapy eld (Mendelson, 2006). Israel
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does not have a stand-alone DMT association, but DMT is represented as a branch of
the Israeli Association of Creative and Expressive Therapies established in 1971. Of the
association’s 1370 registered members, 247 are DM therapists.
North America
This section includes developments in Canada and the USA. DMT was “birthed” in
the USA by Marian Chace, employed as the rst full-time DM therapist in 1947. Chace
began her work with patients with psychosis, and later with soldiers returning from
World War II at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Washington, DC. These soldiers expressed
symptoms of what now would be known as combat trauma or posttraumatic stress
disorder. At a loss for ways to support them to express their experiences and recover,
hospital psychiatrists sent them to Chace. The non-verbal processes she used with
these severely psychotic and traumatized people spawned DMT in the USA. Chace’s
non-verbal, movement-based reecting and mirroring of client’s verbal and non-verbal
attempts at communication gave rise to her concept and practice of kinesthetic empathy,
one of her most signicant contributions to the eld.
Chace’s work was followed by such contemporaries as Trudi Schoop, Mary
Whitehouse, Liljan Espenak, and Blanche Evans. Each of these founders developed
their particular style and theories for DMT, leaving a legacy, including second- and
third-generation students and mentees who continue to diversify the application of
DMT in a variety of clinical and non-clinical settings. DMT has developed through
generations of trailblazers, innovators, instructors, and students. From a core
group of founders to the establishment of matriculated master’s and PhD training
programs, DMT as a profession continues to nd ways to grow in the USA and
Canada. While the number of programs varies, the ADTA membership has been
increasing steadily.
There are currently six academic programs for master’s-level DMT in the USA:
Antioch, Drexel, Lesley, Naropa, Pratt and Sarah Lawrence. Antioch, Lesley and
Pratt all offer low residency programs in DMT. There are also many alternate
route options for students who already have an approved degree and/or are already
practicing in a mental health profession. Alternate-route students create their own
programs by studying with the many individuals and institutes that offer training.
It is difcult to quantify the number of programs because many courses are offered
independently of a program per se. Two examples of alternate route programs in the
USA are The Southwest Collaborative of Embodied Neurobiology and Restorative
Resources, and The Embodied Education Institute of Chicago. These unique options
to study DMT and prepare for registered DMT supports a more diverse student body
as the exibility and lower cost overall of studying DMT without interruption to
ones “usual” life makes this educational track more accessible. Additionally, in the
USA, several of these university programs are spearheading initiatives to diversify
education and, eventually, our eld. As one example, Pratt has collaborated with
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NYC-based DMT Nancy Herard-Marshall to integrate an Afro-centric and black
psychology theoretical framework into their program. More broadly, a committee of
DMTs is now working with the ADTA board of directors and educators to review and
revise how observation and assessment are taught in universities and practiced by
DMTs. Through the summer of 2020, the ADTA sponsored a series of ADTA afnity
group listening sessions where students and DMTs shared their experiences of being
harmed, not being seen or represented in DMT education and our profession. Ebony
Nichols’ thesis “Moving Blindspots: Cultural Bias in the Movement Repertoire of
Dance Movement Therapists (2019)” articulated the need for equity and inclusion
within DMT educational programs and our profession. The Education Committee
under the leadership of Jessica Young and currently Dr. Tomoyo Kawano formed
task force groups to examine the history and explore and expand frameworks and
pedagogy of movement observation. This reection process will continue in all
aspects of DMT education.
Although Canada does not yet have a master’s-level training, a few universities
have shown interest in establishing one. At this moment, there are two alternate route
programs existing in Canada: Movement Arc the Life Moves Dance Movement Therapy
Program (formerly West Coast Dance Movement Therapy [WCDMT]), established in
2013 and located in British Columbia, offers 2.5- to 4-day weekend courses every 4 to
8 weeks, with 5- to 10-day intensive program over the summer. Students can sign up
and begin courses any time.
In addition to teaching traditional DMT methods, WCDMT/Movement Arc also
offers a diverse array of skills and knowledge from the elds of somatic psychotherapy,
expressive arts therapies, attachment psychology, neurobiology and various systems of
movement analysis which weave into and support DM therapists’ skills.
The National Center for Dance Therapy, established by Les Grands Ballets
Canadiens de Montréal, is dedicated to the promotion of DMT. This program is a
collaboration between the 92nd Street Y alternate route program in New York City and
offers a 405-hour ADTA-approved training that takes place over three summers.
Professional associations
Established in 1966 as a professional organization, the ADTA is now led by a board of
directors, a professional ofce, and a credentialing board. More recently, the ADTA
Multicultural and Diversity Committee has formed Afnity Groups to represent and
forward the work of an increasingly diverse community of DM Therapists and to begin
to decentralize white euro-centric perspectives and acknowledge the diversity inherent
to dance as a global and ancient healing practice. The ADTA holds annual conferences
that have been a consistent forum for DMTs to share their work and to exchange
knowledge. It also leads to other events such as continuing educational opportunities,
seminars, and networking and supports scholarship developments to advance DMT
among those who may require additional support.
Canada has an association also, the Dance Movement Therapy Association in Canada
(DMTAC). Once a student has completed their training, they can register to become a
registered DM therapist. When they have completed their post-graduate supervision of
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3000 hours, they can register as a board-certied. This is a rigorous process; in many
ways, it is more rigorous that other master’s-level counseling credentialing processes.
The DMTA ( also offers regular workshops that are often
approved for the Alternate Route or continuing education credits.
In the region of Central America and the Caribbean, DMT is a burgeoning discipline.
In Costa Rica, there are a few practitioners using DMT with varying levels of training
and credentialing. Both Colombia (South America) and Mexico have interested students
who have inquired about setting up DMT training in their countries. Beyond this
limited knowledge of DMT in countries close to or in Central America, our collective
inquiries did not yield more information about the practice there. In the Caribbean,
American DMT Amber Gray has been training clinicians in Haiti in a trauma-informed
DMT framework since 2004. Following the devastating earthquake of 2010, she
trained over 25 clinicians, from social workers to child psychologists to psychiatrists,
to use DMT in their programs for child and adult survivors of trauma. Reciprocally,
this framework draws from Haiti’s rich spiritual tradition and was developed through
cultural immersion and ongoing work with survivors of political violence and disaster
in Haiti and elsewhere (Gray, 2019).
The ADTAs most recent regional chapter is the Puerto Rico chapter, established in
2016. At the time of writing, this small but mighty chapter has already held two annual
DMT conferences in San Juan and virtually. More globally throughout the Caribbean,
Nancy Herard-Marshall and Maria Rivera’s 2019 publication, “Embodied resilience:
Afro-Caribbean dance as an intervention for the healing of trauma in dance movement
therapy,heralds an approach to DMT that is both based on the wisdom of dance to
heal, which existed long before DMT was conceptualized and a current integration
of Afro-centric psychological theory. Herard-Marshall and Rivera’s framework to
connect ancient socio-spiritual and socio-cultural dances to DMT is truly a step in
acknowledging the multiplicity of cultural realities that need to inform DMT so that
DMT moves toward a more global inclusivity.
South America
This section focuses on developments in the South American countries: Argentina,
Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Venezuela, and Uruguay, where author Fischman has
personal connections.
Argentina was the rst South American country in which DMT was taught in
a formal non-academic training of 600 hours. Maralia Reca was the rst and only
Argentinian to undertake DMT-related studies, working with Irmgard Bartenieff and
Liljan Espenak in New York in the 1970s. Reca brought these learnings back with
her to Argentina in 1973, where she began a private practice. In the nineties, Marcia
Leventhal came to Buenos Aires where she taught some workshops. The rst Spanish
speaking training, Brecha-Dance Movement Therapy Training Program, opened in
Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1996. It was founded and directed by Diana Fischman.
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FIGURE 5 | Interbeing through dance. Image courtesy of Brecha, Argentina.
This non-academic program kept on inviting ADTRs to teach at this institute. That
is how Fran Levy, Sharon Chaiklin, Joan Chodorow, William Freeman, Suzi Tortora,
Dianne Dulicai, Robyn Flaum Cruz, and many others taught to South American
students coming from southern countries. Later on, these students became pioneers in
their countries, and they started working in their communities and opened short-term
introductory workshops on DMT.
The early emergence of DMT appears to be similar to other continents where DMT
spread by individuals who share their experiences and learnings bringing the practice of
DMT to their respective regions after studies in the USA, Argentina, and later on, Spain.
Many South American countries have DMT practices, but they do not have formal training:
Brazil, Mexico, Venezuela, Chile, Uruguay, Colombia, and lately Bolivia and Uruguay.
The publication of educational materials about DMT in Spanish language was a signicant
factor in this development. These early inuencers generally began their work in private
practice and gradually expanded to create new clinical settings such as day hospitals,
institutions for the elderly, and other contexts relating to both children and adults.
Many DMT introductory programs are emerging outside of the university system in
these countries. These private institutions and organizations have helped to promulgate
DMT across South America (Figure 5). Such training programs have attracted students
from diverse backgrounds, including dancers, psychotherapists, psychoanalysts, and
180 Kim Dunphy et al.
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Currently, DMT training is offered in Argentina in diverse sites, both private and
academic. A master’s degree was founded in 2008 at the Universidad Nacional del
Arte (UNA) in Buenos Aires and a post-graduate certicate was offered at Universidad
CAECE until 2020. These programs are both recognized by the Asociación Argentina
de Danza Terapia. Chile has two introductory diplomas: one at Vaiven Center directed
by María José Sendra Polanco and the other at Terapia en Movimiento Center directed
by Claudia Aguila Parra. Each course runs over a 6-month duration. Venezuela, Brazil,
and Colombia each have one non-academic program. There have been calls for other
programs to commence in Colombia in 2018. In Mexico, there is no clear evidence of
DMT as a specialized profession, despite interest in developing a training program.
However, DMT is included in some forms of somatic training such as Roth’s 5Rhythms.
Generally speaking, the content of many of these courses include basic assumptions
underpinning DMT methods and theory, focus on the role of early pioneers in developing
DMT theory and technique, expressionism, contemporary dance history, and Laban
Movement Analysis (observation and intervention). Developmental psychology and
movement development are also explored as well as DMT with different populations.
Typically, embodied perspectives are included in the framework. A current trend in
South America is the emphasis on psychoanalysis and cognitive neuroscience to support
and teach concepts such as embodied enaction (Koch & Fischman, 2011).
Professional Associations
Professional associations for DMT are active in Argentina (Asociación Argentina de
Danzaterapia), Chile (Asociación Chilena de Danza Terapia), Venezuela (Asociación
Venezolana de Danzaterapia), and lately in Perú and Bolivia. There are also some informal
networks of DMT followers: LatinMov, for example, organizes events in regions such as
Chile, Bogotá, Buenos Aires, México DF, and Sao Paulo each year. While the material
explored at LatinMov events has some relationship to DMT concepts and practices,
participants generally do not hold DMT qualications nor appear to be seeking certication.
Initiation of the World Alliance for Dance Movement Therapy
Although DMT has gradually become more established in all of these countries and
continents, and associations have formed to support practitioners, there has not been
an organization for DMT with a global focus until recently. In 2014, Dr. Tony Zhou of
Inspirees Institute in China began discussing the establishment of such an organization
with DM therapists around the world. His initiative was met with enthusiasm from Dr.
Kim Dunphy of Australia and Dr. Amber Gray of the USA, who had had a similar idea,
but not yet taken any action.
Consultations were held in 2016 at the European and American conferences and
at committee meetings of the DTAA in Australia. More than 60 people from 20
countries participated in these discussions, agreeing almost without exception that an
international network would be welcome and valuable. Further consultations held at
EADMT and ADTA conferences in 2018 received enthusiastic reception, perhaps most
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strongly from regions that do not yet have their own associations and well-developed
professions. Participating DM therapists recognized the need to have a global voice and
perspective and one that can be supportive of emerging developments, especially in
countries outside the privileged West.
A steering group for an international organization was established with senior DMT
professionals from across the globe and authors Dr. Zhou (Inspirees Institute China), Dr.
Dita Federman (University of Haifa, Israel), Dr. Vincenzo Puxeddu (coordinator of the
master’s program, University of Paris, president of the EADMT), Dr. Diana Fischman
(Dance Movement Therapy Training Program, Buenos Aires), and Dr. Amber Gray
(Executive Director, The Kint Institute, and former member of Board of Directors,
ADTA. Dr. Kim Dunphy, of the University of Melbourne, Australia, and president of
Dance Movement Therapy Association of Australasia, took on the role of inaugural
convenor. Recently, Dr. Ella Dumaresq has joined as an Australian representative.
The group coined the moniker WADMT (World Alliance for Dance Movement
Therapy,, describing itself as a global organization bringing together
DMT associations and individuals interested in developing the profession to support
and inspire one another. The group’s current modest aspirations are to promote DMT
around the world by connecting all those interested, including practitioners, academics,
and associations. The current agreed goal is the promotion of health, well-being, and
creativity across the world by promotion of DMT globally.
The steering group is currently meeting bi-monthly to advance progress for the
WADMT. All processes required for operations of an effective organization are yet to
be established, including membership processes and options for sharing of information.
The group intends to share more information through existing networks such as national
associations as its work progresses.
Proposed activities for the group currently being considered include support and
promotion of the profession, especially in areas where there is not yet an established
association, exchange of information and collaboration between DMT professionals
internationally, and special projects, including collaborative research. Membership is
expected to be open to all who are interested, from national associations, to training
programs, practitioners, students, and other individuals associated with DMT. This
article is the group’s rst collaborative project.
While the rst intention in writing this article was that each section included similar
information, this turned out not to be feasible. Signicant differences between the
regions became evident. The region of Oceania (which includes Australia and Aotearoa
New Zealand) and the USA share similar characteristics in being one region that is
relatively homogenous as far as formalized DMT is concerned, served by one relatively
well-established association. Information about DMT history and training was easily
accessible from association’s websites in these countries, and therefore, it was not
difcult to document their DMT trajectories. However, this was quite different for
Europe, which has both national associations and a recently established international
182 Kim Dunphy et al.
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association, the EADMT. It was much more difcult to tell the story of this broad region
within the limits of a short article; hence, this section focused more on the development
of the profession through the establishment of the EADMT.
Asia and South America, albeit inherently different, both have many countries
whose DMT professions are emerging. Although there are practitioners and practice in
many of these countries, there are few well-established associations or formal training
programs and therefore much less well-documented history and practice.
There are still considerable challenges for the profession in terms of gaining wider
recognition. Compared with art therapy, music therapy, drama therapy, poetry therapy,
and other creative arts therapies, we have not yet even reached a consensus regarding
a unied global name, as discussed in the introduction. This is a fundamental issue
of identity and encourages us to reect philosophically. Further articles and dialogue
could address the issue of terminology, in which concepts of dance and movement
could be considered from diverse cultural perspectives.
Future research
Although this article addressed three interesting topics to trace the progress of the DMT
profession, history, associations, and training, there are many additional topics that
could not be addressed within its limits. These include research, areas of professional
practice, and challenges and opportunities for the profession. These would be important
to explore in future articles.
The scope of the article was quite wide, covering Australasia, Europe, North
and South America, some Asian countries, Israel, and, less so, other Middle Eastern
countries. Central America, the Caribbean, and Africa were minimally covered and
non-exhaustively, as some countries in which none of the authors had contacts were not
included. A future study might aim to be more comprehensive.
A further signicant topic evoked, but was not fully addressed in this article,
is the complex relationship between local, indigenous forms of body–mind healing
and the dominant western models of DMT. This topic is critical as the eld advances
across the world and in diverse cultures, with practitioners seeking to offer culturally
respectful and afrming DMT services. This evidently warrants further research and
The story of the profession’s development across the globe is complex and nuanced,
informed by layers of history, politics, and culturally embedded notions of what “dancing
for health” means in this recently formalized profession. Despite the differences
across regions, there seems to remain a steady beat at the heart of DMT’s growth
as a profession: the inherent value of dance and movement as an age-old resource
to support bodily, emotional, social, individual, and community health. The authors
of this article wish to acknowledge the diversity of dance practices and knowledge/s
around the world, including long-standing indigenous practices and epistemologies
and cultures that continue to express, connect, and create through dance and other
Dance Therapy Today: An Overview of the Profession and Its Practice Around the World 183
© 2021 Inspirees International. Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic License
embodied ways of knowing. As we pay our respects in this article to our DMT leaders
of the past as well as those present and into the future, we also humbly acknowledge
the situated knowledge/s and richness of dance as it is practiced around the world.
May we continue to dance together, one step at a time, toward a shared humanity and
a kinder world for all.
In this very challenging era of human beings being threatened by the COVID-19
epidemic as well as other natural and social crisis, dance and DMT bear the hope for
solidarity of human individuals and society, restoring our respect and harmony with
nature. This review article, in line with the mission of WADMT, seeks to stimulate
and support further opportunities for equitable, inclusive, and engaging dialogues in
our global community. May we continue to dance together, one step at a time, toward a
shared humanity and a kinder world for all.
We thank the following colleagues around the world for their contribution to this
article: Nayung Kim and Kyung Soon Ko (South Korea), Shoichi Machida and Yukari
Sakiyama (Japan), Pei-Shan Tsai, Prof. Tsungchin Lee and Jung-Hsu Jacquelyn Wan
(Taiwan), Prof. Rainbow Tin Hung Ho (Hong Kong), Minh Bui (Vietnam), Ann Way
(Vietnam/NZ), Sandra Lauffenburger (Australia), Rashi Bijlani and Devika Mehta
(India), Warin Tepayayone (Thailand), Claudia Águila Parra and María José Sendra
Polanco (Asociación Chilena de Danza Terapia), Daniela Pinto (Asociación Venezolana
de Danzaterapia), Laura Aguirre and Diana Llama (Mexico), Paola Denevi (Uruguay),
Priscila Torres (Brazil), Marnel Arroyave and Alejandra Sola (Colombia), Alejandra
Vargas Mejía (Bolivia), Tatiana Blanco (Costa Rica), Juana Aguilera (Ecuador), Maria
Rivera (Puerto Rico/USA), Nancy-Herard Marshall (Haiti/USA), Amarillis Vazquez
(Puerto Rico), Nancy Beardall (USA), Ebony Nichols (USA), Hana Kamea (Vancouver,
BC, Canada), Tannis Hugili (Vancouver, BC, Canada), Zuzana Sevcikova (Montreal,
QC, Canada), Vivien Marcow-Speiser (USA/South Africa).
With special thanks to Judith Fischer and Sharon Chaiklin (USA) for their efforts
in reviewing and commenting on this article.
With eternal gratitude to Dr. Kim Dunphy for spearheading this collaboration. Rest
and dance in peace.
About the Authors
The late Kim Dunphy, PhD, Mackenzie Research Fellow, Creative Arts and Music
Therapy Research Unit, Faculty of Fine Arts and Music, University of Melbourne,
Melbourne, Australia.
Dita Federman, PhD, Faculty of Social Welfare and Health Sciences, The School of
Creative Arts Therapies, the Emily Sagol Research centre, University of Haifa, Haifa,
Diana Fischman, PhD, Founding Director, Brecha—Buenos Aires Dance Movement
Therapy Training Program, Buenos Aires, Argentina.
184 Kim Dunphy et al.
© 21 Inspirees International. Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs . Generic License
Amber Gray, PhD, Director, Restorative Resources Training and Consulting, Santa Fe,
NM, USA; Executive Director, The Kint Institute, New York, NY, USA.
Vincenzo Puxeddu, PhD, Co-Director, Master Program “Creation Artistique—Dance
Therapy,” Université de Paris, Paris, France, at Centre Henri Piéron, Boulogne-
Billancourt, France; President, European Association of Dance Movement Therapy
Tony Yu Zhou, PhD, CMA, Founding Director, Inspirees Institute, Beijing, China;
Executive Editor, CAET Journal; Executive Committee, International Association of
Creative Arts in Education and Therapy (IACAET).
Ella Dumaresq, PhD, Creative Arts and Music Therapy Research Unit, Faculty of Fine
Arts and Music, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia.
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed; E-Mail: ella.dumaresq@; Tel.: +61-411-500-678.
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... Since the 1940s, dancing activities have been considered a therapeutic tool in Western societies (Dunphy et al., 2022). Dance therapy interventions are usually implemented in health (psychiatric hospitals), social (rehabilitation centers, drop-in centers), and educational (schools) settings. ...
Context Dance therapy is well suited to clinical settings in which people have difficulty with classical language-based therapeutic devices. Psychological trauma has significant mental, physiological, and somatic consequences, and dance therapy incorporates the adjusted components for its management. Objectives To identify (i) the potential therapeutic effects of dance therapy in adults with psychological trauma, and (ii) the barriers and facilitators associated with the impact of dance therapy in adults suffering from psychological trauma. Method Five relevant keyword combinations were used on seven databases. The inclusion criteria are: adults with psychological trauma, dance therapy, and articles published between 2000 and 2022. The exclusion criteria are: children, adolescents, and publications that are not scientific articles. A bias analysis has been conducted on 20 articles using the tools of the NIH and JBI. Results Thirteen articles have been included, and a thematic analysis has been conducted on the extracted data. The results indicates that dance therapy helps people suffering from psychological traumas to reconnect with their body, express their emotions, improve the management of the psychopathological symptoms, and sometimes even reducing them. The dance group encourages self-expression and establishment of new relationship with others. The feeling of security and the flow state of participants facilitate the emergence of these beneficial effects. These depend on the skill sets of the therapists and the regularity, constancy, and stability of the sessions. Conclusion Dance therapy is effective in the treatment of psychological trauma, especially for women and people facing migration.
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Italian Covid-19 lockdowns forced specific categories of population to isolation for almost two years from March 2020 to May 2022, increasing stress conditions as a consequence. During the first total 2020 lockdown, I felt the responsibility to help my community as a dance movement therapist, by reducing the sense of disorientation and isolation. I decided to offer a pilot on-line program promoted by the local Centre for Social Care. The elderly living in the two public residential care homes of the area and some school classes were invited to participate. Our aim was to facilitate an integrated body/mind moving dimension through a creative process. The program responded to concrete needs such as feeling useful while disoriented by the loss of relationships, as well as establishing a sense of community and belonging through a common goal with new empowering practices, for example dancing on-line. The success of the first pilot program encouraged the local Centre for Social Care System to sponsor a second program called Map & Territory. We aimed at understanding how valuable it was to consolidate the use of technology to provide care, not only in emergency cases, but also in primary care cases. The article describes how tele-interventions with dance/movement therapy have been offered to reduce traumatic damages and to promote empowering resilience amongst different generations from children to elders. Achieved goals show the importance of encouraging synergy between arts and medicine for the future management of sanitary crisis and daily health policies, considering health as a dynamic process improving the individual capacity to self-manage.
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This article, co-written by several dance movement therapy professionals in Asia, gives an overview of the history, training, professional association, professional practice, research, strengths and challenges of dance movement therapy in Asia – particularly in East Asia and Southeast Asia. Some cultural reflections are included to offer the Asian perspectives.
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Indigenous peoples today continue ancient traditions of dance and other arts for sustaining and developing health and wellbeing. This chapter documents how traditional and contemporary dance practices of Indigenous peoples of Australia can strengthen participants’ access to quality of life, as described in Indigenous epistemology. We examine two case studies of cultural practices focused around dance in detail—the Junba dance-song tradition of Western Australia and the Milpirri Festival of the Northern Territory—identifying factors that might enable improved quality of life through dance. These include close connections with traditional culture, aesthetic elements utilized thoughtfully to facilitate experienced wellbeing, different roles and opportunities for people of all generations, and processes for negotiating new identities in changing contexts.
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This article reports the results of a survey of 41 dance-movement therapy practitioners in Australia. Issues for dance-movement therapy practice in Australia were investigated within the themes of practitioners; programs and clients, and philosophical and industrial concerns. Overall, it was apparent that the dance-movement therapy profession in Australia is both diverse and homogenous: therapists’ professional orientations and backgrounds, and the types of settings in which they work, are very diverse, but therapists are much more similar in their ages, gender, cultural backgrounds and geographic location. The issues raised by the variation and lack of diversity are discussed, along with possible strategies to address them. <br /
Book Description Dance and Creativity within Dance Movement Therapy discusses the core work and basic concepts in dance movement therapy (DMT), focusing on the centrality of dance, the creative process and their aesthetic-psychological implications in the practice of the profession for both patients and therapists. Based on interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary inputs from fields such as philosophy, anthropology and dance, contributions examine the issues presented by cultural differences in DMT through the input of practitioners from several diverse countries. Chapters blend theory and case studies with personal, intimate reflections to support critical descriptions of DMT interventions and share methods to help structure practice and facilitate communication between professionals and researchers. The book’s multicultural, multidisciplinary examination of the essence of dance and its countless healing purposes will give readers new insights into the value and functions of dance both in and out of therapy.
The 50th anniversary of the American Dance Therapy Association (ADTA) is a celebration of our achievements over the last half-century and a time for analysis and reflection regarding all facets of the development of the profession of dance/movement therapy. This is an excellent occasion to look back at the history of the credentials process, and the evolution to Board certification. This article will trace the major historical events in the development of the ADTA credentials process from it’s inception to the current day, and explore both the internal and external factors that moved this process forward. It will also examine our credentials with a focus on some of the issues raised within the current health care climate.
One of a collection of six scholarly essays solicited by this journal to celebrate the first half-century of the American Dance Therapy Association, this paper describes the centrality of research to the profession since its inception. Using the works of Marian Chace, early conference proceedings, and some brief history about the development of psychotherapy and evidence-based practice as illustrations, this essay presents the historical affiliation between dance/movement therapy and research. The prescience of basic assumptions about dance/movement therapy conceptualized in the early days of the profession, which are now supported by newly emerging neurological and neuropsychological research, is discussed. Among the promising features of the profession noted, are the impressive growth of dance/movement therapy globally, and the fact that the embodied approach embedded in the work has kept the profession close to important body-mind parameters over time. These are argued to ensure its continued growth over the next 50 years. Finally, readers are reminded that engaging with research creates the foundation of improving practice to ultimately benefit clients.