STARS is a clinical programme that uses dance movement therapy to empower children and teenagers with intellectual and physical disabilities including autism spectrum disorder, ADHD, cerebral palsy, global development delays and brain trauma. Find out more about STARS including how it helps, locations and the costs involved.

What is the STARS dance movement therapy programme?

Dance movement therapy provides a unique gateway into a child’s world. It encourages the child to interact and connect in ways that they feel safe, and we can gently guide them into a range of interactions, to expand their levels of comfort, and to move into skill building when appropriate.

Our therapeutic programmes combine creative expression (dance/movement, music, play and body awareness activities) with skill development (communication, self-regulation, motor planning and social interaction). The group activities support peer social relationships as the children learn about each other by sharing through creative self-expression. These groups help children develop understanding and empathy for others through following and responding to the actions, dance moves and musical dialogues of their peers.

Groups typically run for a school term and meet weekly for 45-60 minutes. Groups are limited in size to provide individualised attention for each child, and to reduce the level of stimulation that some children with special needs find challenging in group settings.

Some groups are more suited to children with particular needs – some of the groups we offer are specifically for children on the Autism Spectrum, some are more suited to those with down syndrome, or cerebral palsy, for example.

Our approach is based on the concept that every action is a communication, and our therapists look for ways to use the child’s atypical and perhaps self stimulatory actions to create and maintain a connected relationship in which the child can continue to grow and thrive, despite their neurological disorder. This therapeutic relationship can then be used as the basis from which to transfer these relationship skills into other relationships in the child’s social world.

Ultimately, STARS participants develop social skills and emotional literacy in a supportive, physical, and fun activity-based group.

STARS therapy locations

At this point in time, STARS is an Auckland programme taking place at the following locations:

  • Onehunga
    Day & time: Tuesdays 4-5pm
    Dates: Term 1 2024: 13 February – 9 April (no session 2 April) | Term 2 2024: 30 April – 25 June | Term 3 2024: 30 July – 17 September | Term 4 2024: 15 October – 3 December
  • Pakuranga
    Day & time: Wednesday 3.45-4.45pm
    Dates: Term 1 2024: 14 February – 3 April | Term 2 2024: 8 May – 26 June | Term 3 2024: 31 July – 18 September | Term 4 2024: 16 October – 4 December
  • Mt Albert
    Day & time: Wednesday 3.45-4.45pm
    Dates: Term 1 2024: 14 February – 3 April | Term 2 2024: 8 May – 26 June | Term 3 2024: 31 July – 18 September | Term 4 2024: 16 October – 4 December
  • North Shore
    Day & time: Saturdays  6 – 11 years old 9.45am – 10.45am | 9 – 14 years old 11.15am – 12.15pm | 15 – 19 year old 12.45pm – 1.45pm
    Dates: Term 1 2024 10 February – 13 April (no session 30 March due to Easter) | Term 2 2024: 4 May – 22 June | Term 3 2024: 27 July – 14 September | Term 4 2024: 19 October – 7 December

STARS costs

STARS run for part of each term. The cost for STARS over eight weeks is $225 including GST.

Register for STARS

Please email for further information or complete this Referral Form so we can undertake an initial assessment. This form is important as it allows us to better understand a client’s needs and to determine if group therapy is the most appropriate option. Any information that you submit will go into our secure client management system.