Dance Movement Therapy and Counseling (MA | Graduate Certificate)

This program is not accepting applications for new students at this time.

Columbia’s Dance/Movement Therapy and Counseling program is recognized as a national leader, and is one of the few programs in the country that connects students with a highly diverse portfolio of clinical settings. Our strong ties to the Chicago community provide students with many placement options for practicum and internship, which we tailor to students' interests. Students gain valuable experience in the field and make meaningful connections for their future careers.


Students couple this practical, hands-on clinical experience with rigorous coursework. They build relationships with our faculty of licensed clinical professional counselors and board certified dance/movement therapists who are also innovative practitioners, scholars, and artists.

Students leave Columbia as registered dance/movement therapists and are eligible to sit for the Illinois State Licensing Exam to become licensed professional counselors. Our program meets the standards set for counseling by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation.

As graduates of this program, students join a vibrant and active dance/movement therapy community. We are proud of our unique creative focus and come together regularly for dance concerts with alumni, practitioners, and current students.

Program First Year

Students begin this intensive program in the summer of their first year with a three-week immersion. They join a small cohort of students from the U.S. and abroad as they explore the culture of Chicago, the college, and the department. Their first-year coursework includes Laban movement analysis, social and cultural foundations, human development, psychotherapy, and dance/movement therapy theory, among other topics. By the end of their first year, they identify an interest area and work with our clinical placement coordinator to find practicums that makes sense for their career goals. Students complete this practicum over the summer of their second year, in which they are supervised by an academic, board certified dance/movement therapist.

Program Second Year

After completing a practicum in the summer of their second year, students move into a 700-hour internship. They secure a clinical placement that is different from their summer placement. We require students to gain experiences with different developmental and mental health populations. Our students have interned in a variety of clinical settings including schools, hospitals, out-patient programs, nursing homes, community centers, rehabilitation services, and correctional facilities. They spend 20-24 hours a week at their internships. The rest of the time is devoted to coursework that focuses on clinical appraisal, treatment planning, family counseling, and addiction counseling.

As they begin their second year of coursework, students develop a thesis project. Research is an important component of the program, as it not only prepares students by narrowing their expertise in a specialization, but also exposes students to research methods and leading scholarship in the field. Students graduate with a strong scholarly foundation and thorough clinical experience. They complete thesis projects in a final summer session, after which they submit their diplomas to the American Dance Therapy Association to be registered dance/movement therapists. They also prepare to sit for the Illinois State Licensing Exam to become licensed professional counselors.

Graduate Certificate Options

Alternative Route Certificate

Columbia offers an alternate route program for students who have an MA, or are in the process of earning an MA, in counseling psychology or a related field. In this program, students join a cohort of Dance/Movement Therapy and Counseling MA students with an alternate course pathway to earning registered dance/movement therapist credentials from the American Dance Therapy Association. The Alternate Route Certificate program takes two years to complete. View Columbia's Gainful Employment Disclosure form for the Alternate Route Certificate.

Graduate Laban Certificate in Movement Analysis

Students gain a powerful new vocabulary and perspective as they become fluent in Rudolf Laban’s taxonomy of human movement. Laban can open up new options for employment in applied fields in the arts, such as movement directing and coaching or in somatic practice, such as yoga, tai chi, Pilates, and the Feldenkrais Method. Laban is also incredibly meaningful for artists in many forms, especially dance and theatre. A strong background in Laban movement analysis can enhance choreography skills and students' abilities to work with other dancers, and improve characterization. In this program, students take courses monthly or bi-monthly in Chicago over the course of one year. The program is accessible for working professionals, who often make up a large portion of the class. They grow with an interdisciplinary cohort of students and teachers who hail from fields such as theatre, dance, creative arts therapies, somatic practices, and rehabilitative medicine. View Columbia's Gainful Employment Disclosure form for the Graduate Laban Certificate in Movement Analysis.