Crossing the somatic-semiotic divide: The troubled question of dance/movement therapists (DMTs) professional identity

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This article explores the issue of dance/movement therapists' professional identity which, it is argued, is still overshadowed by the somatic-verbal divide. The discussion was generated by a small-scale research project, initially designed to examine therapists' somatic awareness and awareness of somatic countertransference. The results of this study, briefly presented in the first part of the article, pointed to a prevalent preference for verbal training, supervision, and session processing, and to a surprising absence of awareness of and engagement with the therapist's own bodily response to the therapeutic encounter.Moving on from the findings of the initial research project, the article focuses on the troubled issue of DMTs professional identity through a contextualization of these findings and further elaboration of their symptomatic relevance. While some of the issues of professional identity are " external" , having to do with funding, status, institutional frameworks and training programmes, it is argued that the underlying sources of the problem are fundamentally related to the still unbridged somatic-semiotic divide, and the deep-rooted ambivalence of DMTs in relation to their own approaches and practices. It is proposed that the resolution of this ambivalence will be conducive to the development of a more robust DMT professional identity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6-19
Number of pages14
JournalArts in Psychotherapy
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2013


  • Dance/movement therapy (DMT)
  • Personal-self
  • Professional development
  • Professional identity
  • Reflection
  • Somatic-verbal divide

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Professions (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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