Case study

Dance movement psychotherapist — Anna Wood

Anna enjoys the variety of her role, both in terms of the clients she sees and the settings she works in. Discover more about the rewards of working as a dance movement psychotherapist

How did you become a dance movement psychotherapist?

I studied for an MA in Dance Movement Therapy at Goldsmiths University. During my studies, I networked wherever I could and grasped opportunities to develop my own identity as a practitioner. For example, I found placements in my time off to further my experience and to meet like-minded professionals. I attended workshops and seminars outside of the course and worked part time in a variety of organisations and sectors to find out which client group I wished to work with. This shifted and changed along the way as I got to know where my skills were best suited.

I got my current job with Octavia House Schools from the placement I did in my final year of study. I work as a qualified dance movement psychotherapist (DMP) with children aged 4 to 14.

What's a typical day like?

I work with themes of attachment, relationships, boundaries, containment, loss, rejection and a sense of self. On a daily basis, this means running one-to-one sessions, offering group work in the form of nurture groups, and running staff training workshops and staff reflection groups.

I also co-facilitate a whole school sensory and regulation programme with the occupational therapist. This support is offered in and out of class and works closely with the school curriculum. I work within a multidisciplinary team of therapists and also alongside external professionals such as social workers and child and adolescent mental health services (CAHMS) staff.

In addition to my work at school, I'm also contracted as a DMP on short-term projects offering DMP and creative arts facilitation in mainstream schools, charity-based organisations and in the private sector. This provides me with a different experience of how to work with children therapeutically through the medium of movement. Here I run one-to-one group sessions, movement workshops for families, parents and carers and experiential workshops to meet the staff's continuing professional development (CPD) needs.

How relevant is your Masters degree?

My Masters degree is extremely relevant to my job and I'm continuing to build on, and develop, the skills I learned when training.

What do you enjoy about your job?

I enjoy working within different sectors and liaising and working alongside medical professionals, such as doctors and nurses.

Every day is different and although it holds many challenges, where I have to be versatile as I step into different roles and different organisations, I love the colourful nature of my job.

What are the challenges?

The nature of the work can be very challenging and the school I work in is based on a therapeutic community model. Therefore, as a professional it's about modelling healthy relationships throughout the school.

Where do you hope to be in five years?

I attend regular CPD courses and also focus on my academic writing for peer reviewed journals. In the future I hope to complete my PhD and lecture at a university, alongside my practice.

Any advice for others interested in dance movement psychotherapy?

Make sure you work to the best of your ability, go the extra mile and network with other professionals as this will maximise your opportunities. Be patient and have belief in yourself.

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