Have you always loved dance or art? Consider combining your passion with a career in health care. Today, both of these activities are used to help people cope with physical, psychological, or sociological problems.
Dance therapy involves using movement to help people deal with physical, emotional, or social problems. It is based on the belief that the body, the mind, and the spirit are interconnected. Dance therapists use their professional skills to help people of all ages integrate their emotional and physical needs. They help people use this creative art to relieve stress, build their confidence, and overcome emotional problems. A key to the field of dance therapy is promoting self-expression.
A related occupation, art therapy, takes a similar approach. Art therapists use art media, images, and the creative-art process to help people cope with illness or other challenges. The art therapist’s job might include helping people deal with emotional conflicts, develop social skills and self-awareness, reduce anxiety, and build self-esteem.
Dance and art therapists are employed in a wide variety of settings, including hospitals and clinics, psychiatric and rehabiliation facilities, nursing homes, correctional facilities, crisis centers, and others. In many cases, dance or art therapy involves working with groups of people. Therapists work with all age groups, from children to young adults to senior citizens, depending on the setting.
Experienced dance and art therapists earn good incomes, and demand for qualified professionals is growing. According to the American Art Therapy Association (AATA), most beginning art therapists start out earning about $32,000 annually. The median income for experienced therapists is $45,000, and administrators in this field may earn $50,000 to $100,000 yearly. Art therapists with top credentials and state licensure to conduct private practice may bring in $75 to $150 per hour or more.
To be a successful dance or art therapist, you must have a number of special aptitudes. In addition to having a background in dance or art, you should have a solid understanding the creative process. In addition, you must be sensitive, patient, emotionally stable, and able to get along well with different kinds of people.
Most students who want to become therapists start out by gaining significant dance or art experience while also earning a bachelor’s degree. The next step is to enroll in a master’s degree program in dance/movement therapy or art therapy. If the master’s program has been approved by the American Dance Therapy Association, graduates are eligible to receive the D.T.R. (Dance Therapist Registered) credential. Art therapists may earn similar credentials through the AATA.
If you want to become credentialed in dance therapy but cannot find a graduate program in in your area, you may be able to combine master’s level study in dance or movement therapy with course work in a related field such as psychology, counseling, or social work. Likewise, art therapists may earn a master’s degree in art therapy, or they may pursue a degree in a related area while completing significant course work in the field.
For more information about dance and art therapy, contact The American Dance Therapy Association, 2000 Century Plaza, Suite 108, Columbia, MD 21044-3263, 410-997-4040, www.adta.org; or the American Art Therapy Association, 5999 Stevenson Avenue, Alexandria VA 22304, 703-212-2238, www.arttherapy.org.
Article courtesy of www.careersandcolleges.com