New Master’s program focuses on movement

By Lauren Minore 

Associate Professor of Dance Kim Chandler instructs a group of Rider students. A new Master of Arts program in clinical mental health counseling and movement therapy will be open to students this fall. 

Rider is launching a new program that will give students the opportunity to receive a Master of Arts in clinical mental health counseling with dance and movement therapy (D/MT) in fall 2019.

Students in the program will learn how to harness the healing powers of art as a therapeutic technique, discover how to blend mind and body practices, mindfulness and traditional therapies for holistic wellness and qualify for the entry-level credential as a registered dance and movement therapist, among other critical skills, according to Rider’s website. 

“[The program] provides both didactic and skills-based courses that give a strong foundation in counseling and teaches students to use movement as a tool for use with clients who seek non-talk-based methods of communication and emotional expression,” said Christina Peterson, chair of the college of education and human services’ department of graduate education, leadership and counseling. “Students practice their therapeutic skills through role play and case studies in the classroom early in the program, before entering the field. Capped at only 6 students, our practicum [or fieldwork] courses provide intensive instruction and supervision.”

This 60-credit concentrated program will give Rider students the opportunity to obtain accreditation as a registered dance and movement therapist and a licensed professional counselor.

Peterson also expressed her excitement about the program as a new partnership between Rider’s graduate counseling program in the College of Education and Human Services and the dance program in the School of Fine and Performing Arts.  

“This program has created a lot of excitement in the dance and movement therapy profession as it is the first of its kind in New Jersey,” said Peterson. “Graduates of the program will have met the educational requirements for credentialing as a board certified coach, a licensed professional counselor and a dance movement therapist. Many programs only offer only one credential upon completion, whereas ours offers three. This opens the doors to unique opportunities in mental health. A number of our clinical mental health service provider partners have expressed great enthusiasm for adding D/MT to their practice.”

Student dancers, including junior dance performance major Xiomara Quinones, expressed interest in the innovative program. 

“It opens up a new outlook within the way dance is perceived,” Quinones said. “In the competition world, it has turned into purely tricks and flashy costumes, but D/MT brings students and people back to the purpose of why we dance. It is an outlet of emotions through movement and music.” 

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