The experience of a dance movement therapy group in training
This thesis explores the experience of a dance movement therapy group as part of a post graduate diploma course in higher education. The prime focus is the students' perspective of the group training as preparation for their subsequent role as dance movement therapists in practice. The research follows a group of seven students through a two year dance movement therapy group experience using an action research methodology in a collaborative mode. Through a series of systematic, planned, in-depth, semi-structured interviews, it uses the students' own account of the experience and correlates this with their practice as trainees. The third and final year fieldwork explores, from the students' perceptions, the way such an experience is integrated into eventual practice. The thesis is grounded in a literature review drawn from the psychotherapy, counselling and arts therapies fields. An international survey of training organisations for the arts and psycho therapies provides significance of the group experience in the training of arts therapists. The major conclusion is that although group experience in dance movement therapy is crucial for the training of dance movement therapists it requires extremely sensitive handling to cope with the feelings of loss, anger, grief and struggles with models of practice. There are, in addition, many difficulties experienced in learning to be a group as well as an individual within the group. The issue of authority in particular, which is central to any course in higher education, has to be carefully worked through for these students. The thesis concludes with recommendations for curriculum development in the post graduate training of dance movement therapists and allied professions.