(Re-) Defining Dance/Movement Therapy Fifty Years Hence

  • Janet Lemon WilliamsEmail author


The cultural turn of the 1980s suggests re-visiting the definition of Dance Movement Therapy (DMT) for the purposes of understanding the power the language has in shaping the profession. Such re-examination of the original American Dance Therapy Association (ADTA) definition and its historical development reveals an ambivalence that upholds a dualistic view of the profession; a troublesome idea for a practice based in body-mind integration. This paper is not a critique of the ADTA or the field, but is meant to act as a springboard for discourse on how the very description of the work can contribute to level of recognition of the profession.


Definition Cultural turn Dualism Meaning Language 



  1. Capello, P. P. (2014). Why I became a dance therapist. American Journal of Dance Therapy, 36(1), 28–39. Scholar
  2. Capello, P. P. (2016). Looking to the future: Tracking the global emergence of dance/movement therapy. American Journal of Dance Therapy, 38(1), 125–138. Scholar
  3. Chaiklin, H. (1994). The crossroads of dance therapy. American Journal of Dance Therapy, 16(2), 71–80. Scholar
  4. Chaiklin, H. (1997). Research and the development of a profession revisited. American Journal of Dance Therapy, 19(2), 93–103. Scholar
  5. Cohen, B. B. (1984). Sensing, feeling and action: The experiential anatomy of body-mind centering. Amherst MA: Contact Editions.Google Scholar
  6. De Ville, J. (2008). Sovereignty without sovereignty: Derrida’s declarations of independence. Law and Critique, 19(2), 87–114. Scholar
  7. Derrida, J. (1986). Declarations of independence. New Political Science, 7(1), 7–15. Scholar
  8. Honig, B. (1991). Declarations of independence: Arendt and Derrida on the problem of founding a republic. The American Political Science Review, 85(1), 97–113. Scholar
  9. Leventhal, M. (2008). Transformation and healing through dance therapy: The challenge and imperative of holding the vision. American Journal of Dance Therapy, 30(1), 4–23. Scholar
  10. Milberg, D. B. (1977). Directions for research in dance movement therapy. American Journal of Dance Therapy, 1(1), 14–17. Scholar
  11. Schechner, R. (2000). Post post-structuralism? TDR/The Drama Review, 44(3), 4–7. Scholar
  12. Schmais, C., & White, E. Q. (1970). Introduction to dance therapy. American Journal of Dance Therapy, 9(1), 23–30. Scholar
  13. Schmais, C., & White, E. Q. (1996). ADTA: Where, when and how it all began. American Journal of Dance Therapy, 18(1), 5–20. Scholar
  14. Stark, A. (1980). The evolution of professional training in the American Dance Therapy Association. American Journal of Dance Therapy, 3(2), 12–19. Scholar

Copyright information

© American Dance Therapy Association 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of DanceYork UniversityTorontoCanada
  2. 2.GuelphCanada

Personalised recommendations