What is Dance Movement Therapy?

Dance Movement Therapy is an experiential form of psychotherapy that has been used internationally since the 1940s in hospitals, schools, prisons, treatment centres and private practice.

What is dance movement therapy?

Dance movement therapy is based on the assumption that the body and mind are interrelated, and that changing movement patterns affects change in other areas. It uses an active, client-centred approach, which encourages an individual to share thoughts, feelings and express themselves using movement and words in an environment that is safe, supportive and uplifting.

Who benefits from dance movement therapy?

“If you can walk, you can dance”- Dance Movement Therapy benefits everyone from people who don’t usually dance through to those that enjoy movement.

It is ideal for people who feel self-conscious physically, uncomfortable in their body or disconnected from their body as it uses gentle and non-intrusive methods. By beginning to ‘make friends’ with the body, you can fully inhabit and have access to a full range of expression.

For children, the nonverbal aspect of dance movement therapy supports growth and integration of motoric, perceptual-motor, verbal processing skills, cognition and communication, and social emotional development.

A dance movement therapy session for adults typically involve some movement as part of the session, and may involve talking to identify issues, and to integrate any changes or learning from the movement in a cognitive way, so that we can access and utilise these insights in our lives.

How does dance movement therapy help people living with special needs?

The focus on nonverbal behavior can help those with autism and other special needs improve socialization and communication, build body awareness, and directly affect motor deficits. Movement can provide a bridge for contact and a vehicle for communication between the dance therapist and the individual.

Find a dance movement therapy programme

DTNZ offers a variety of dance movement therapy group and clinical programmes. Find out more on our DTNZ Programme page.

Dance 4 Us clients enjoying a session


1. I’m interested in a programme, what do I do now?

If your think that the STARS or Arts 4 Us SPECIALITY programme is right for your child/teen:

  • Make an enquiry through the website or email admin@dancetherapy.co.nz or phone: 096363029
  • Our administrator will contact you to find out some basic information 
  • You will be emailed a registration form (or you can fill this out on our website) – this gives us more detailed information about your child/teen and their history. This helps the therapist during the assessment to understand your child/teens needs better.
  • If a group is potentially available your child/teen will be required to attend an assessment. This is 30-60 minutes long, usually at the venue where the programme will take place and with the Therapist running the programme. The assessment is a chance for the therapist to understand your child’s needs, for your child to try out some new activities that are offered during the sessions and for you to ask any questions.
  • Following the assessment the Therapist will talk to you about:
    * the group that would be most appropriate for your child, or 
    the need for your child to begin with individual or DYAD/TRIAD session
  • If a group is not currently available (eg. Sometimes we get enquiries for children/teens who are too young/old to join with a group we currently have), you will be offered an assessment for an individual therapy programme or you can ask to be placed on our waiting list (in case a group becomes available that meets your child’s needs). We try and stay in touch with carers/parents on the waiting list on a termly basis.
  • Prior to joining a group you will be asked to complete a consent form.


If you think that the Arts 4 Us drop in or Dance for Us is right for you or your child/teen: 

  • Make an enquiry through the website or email admin@dancetherapy.co.nz or phone: 096363029. We can answer your questions and let the therapist know you are likely to attend.
  • Simply ‘drop in’ on the correct day/time – see programme calendar for these.
2. How much do the programme’s cost?

Our current programme costs are as follows:

Dance 4 Us (adult drop in classes) – gold coin koha

Arts 4 Us general (for school aged children living in the community of programme) – free

STARS $225 (incl gst)/term (8 weeks)

Arts 4 Us specialty $225 (incl gst)/term (8 weeks)

3. Is there any help with these costs?

Carer Support: 
If you receive carer support you can designate the cost of an hour of this to the dance/arts therapy session.  Bring your form along for the therapist to sign.  You claim this money directly.

Individual funding: 
If your child/teen has been Needs Assessed and has Home and Community Support Services or a Respite allocation you may wish to discuss with your assessor Individual Funding.  This allows you to decide who/how this funding is spent.  You can use part of the funding towards the cost of therapy/a programme.  This option can be discussed with Taikura Trust.

Contact us at clients@dancetherapy.co.nz to learn how you can use your Individualised Funding and Carer Support/I Choose with DTNZ

Disability Allowance subsidised counselling
If you are receiving the disability allowance through WINZ (Work and Income New Zealand) you may be eligible for subsidised counselling.  If you are not currently receiving to check if you meet their income criteria click here

Assistance is provided for counselling if the need for counselling is directly related to a person’s disability.  You, your doctor and your therapist (who must be a member of the New Zealand Arts Therapy Association - ANZACATA) will need to fill out the Disability Certificate - Counselling (download the form here).

From time to time we become aware of possible avenues to assist with therapy costs.  We will endeavour to keep you informed of these.  Click on   possible funding sources to aid parents 

Links:  (click) 
Taikura Trust

Jubilee Trust

Variety Club

Halberg Trust Activity Fund Grant

Wilson Home Trust Equipment and Activity Grant

Cerebral Palsy Society

Extraordinary Care Fund

4. I don’t speak English well; can you help?

We are lucky enough to have therapists who speak a range of languages (eg. Chinese, Japanese, Spanish, English).  If you need help with initial communication let us know.

5. I/my child is blind; is dance and arts therapy still possible?


6. I/my child is deaf; is dance and arts therapy still possible?