Dance therapist


Dance therapists support individuals with their emotional, mental or physical health problems helping them to improve their body awareness, self-esteem, social integration and personal development through dance and movement patterns within a therapeutic environment.

Other titles

The following job titles also refer to dance therapist:

movement therapist

Minimum qualifications

Bachelor’s degree is generally required to work as dance therapist. However, this requirement may differ in some countries.

ISCO skill level

ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:

  • the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
  • the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
  • the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.

Dance therapist is a Skill level 4 occupation.

Dance therapist career path

Similar occupations

These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to dance therapist.

animal assisted therapist
recreational therapist
specialist biomedical scientist
art therapist

Long term prospects

These occupations require some skills and knowledge of dance therapist. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of dance therapist with a significant experience and/or extensive training.

Essential knowledge and skills

Essential knowledge

This knowledge should be acquired through learning to fulfill the role of dance therapist.

Link between dance and music style: The relation of a practiced dance style with music structure and musicians.
Dance therapy: The implementation of dance in a therapeutic treatment in order to improve the self-esteem and body image of the patient.
Psychological theories: The historical development of counselling and psychological theories, as well as the perspectives, applications, and interviewing and counselling strategies.

Essential skills and competences

These skills are necessary for the role of dance therapist.

Inspire enthusiasm for dance: Encourage and enable people, especially children, to become involved in dance and to understand and appreciate it, either privately or in public contexts.
Dance: Perform in artistic productions of differents disciplines such as classical ballet, modern dance, contemporary dance, early dance, ethnic dance, folk dance, acrobatic dances and street dance.
Harmonise body movements: Harmonise body movements in accordance to rhythm and melody, aestetic or dramatic concept, dramatic pace, etc.
Maintain healthcare user data confidentiality: Comply with and maintain the confidentiality of healthcare users` illness and treatment information.
Provide health education: Provide evidence based strategies to promote healthy living, disease prevention and management.
Develop creative ideas: Developing new artistic concepts and creative ideas.
Write work-related reports: Compose work-related reports that support effective relationship management and a high standard of documentation and record keeping. Write and present results and conclusions in a clear and intelligible way so they are comprehensible to a non-expert audience.
Listen actively: Give attention to what other people say, patiently understand points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times; able to listen carefully the needs of customers, clients, passengers, service users or others, and provide solutions accordingly.
Observe healthcare users: Observe healthcare users and record significant conditions and reactions to drugs, treatments, and significant incidents, notifying a supervisor or physician when required.
Assess the patient’s therapeutic needs: Observe and assess the patient`s behaviour, attitudes and emotions in order to understand if and how their therapeutic needs can be met with a specific kind of therapy, collecting and analysing information on how the client makes, responds to, and relates to artistic stimulae. Relate this information to other aspects of the patient`s life.
Develop a collaborative therapeutic relationship: Develop a mutually collaborative therapeutic relationship during treatment, fostering and gaining healthcare users’ trust and cooperation.
Have emotional intelligence: Recognize ones own and other people`s emotions, distinguish correctly between them and observing how they can influence one`s environment and social interaction and what can be done about it.

Optional knowledge and skills

Optional knowledge

This knowledge is sometimes, but not always, required for the role of dance therapist. However, mastering this knowledge allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

Eating disorders: The various types, pathophysiology and psychology of eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia, binge-eating disorders and how they can be treated.
Human physiology: The science that studies the human organs and its interactions and mechanisms.
Autism: The characteristics, causes, symptoms and diagnosis of the neurodevelopmental disorder affecting social interaction, verbal and non-verbal communication and repetitive behaviour.
Psychotherapy principles: The fundamental principles and methods applied in psychotherapy to explore and resolve distressing behaviour or feelings.
Evaluation of psychological performance: The characteristics of the methods used to assess psychological parameters.
Psychology: The human behaviour and performance with individual differences in ability, personality, interests, learning, and motivation.

Optional skills and competences

These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of dance therapist. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

Respond to changing situations in health care: Cope with pressure and respond appropriately and in time to unexpected and rapidly changing situations in healthcare.
Contribute to continuity of health care: Contribute to the delivery of coordinated and continuous healthcare.
Empathise with the healthcare user: Understand the background of clients` and patients’ symptoms, difficulties and behaviour. Be empathetic about their issues; showing respect and reinforcing their autonomy, self-esteem and independence. Demonstrate a concern for their welfare and handle according to the personal boundaries, sensitivities, cultural differences and preferences of the client and patient in mind.
Diagnose mental disorders: Formulate a diagnosis for people with a variety of issues and mental disorders, ranging from short-term personal and emotional problems to severe, chronic mental conditions, recognising and critically evaluating any possible mental health issues.
Handle patient trauma: Assess the competences, needs, and limitations of people affected by trauma, referring the patients to specialised trauma services where appropriate.
Use communication techniques: Apply techniques of communication which allow interlocutors to better understand each other and communicate accurately in the transmission of messages.
Comply with legislation related to health care: Comply with the regional and national legislation that is relevant to one`s work and apply it in practice.
Perform musical improvisations in therapy: Improvise music as a reaction to what the patient is communicating, in order to enhance the individual nature of the relationship between therapist and patient. Improvise instrumentally, vocally, or physically to meet client’s therapeutic needs.
Apply risk management in sports: Manage the environment and athletes or participants to minimise their chances of suffering any harm. This includes checking appropriateness of venue and equipment and gathering relevant sport and health history from athletes or participants. It also includes ensuring appropriate insurance cover is in place at all times
Ensure safety of healthcare users: Make sure that healthcare users are being treated professionally, effectively and safe from harm, adapting techniques and procedures according to the person’s needs, abilities or the prevailing conditions.
Apply organisational techniques: Employ a set of organisational techniques and procedures which facilitate the achievement of the goals set. Use these resources efficiently and sustainably, and show flexibility when required.
Work with healthcare users’ social network: Get involved with the friends, families and other relevant actors important for the client or patient being treated, under the conditions of confidentiality and transparency.
Plan choreographic improvisation: Establish improvisation parameters of a physical, spatial or morphological nature. Clarify goals and uses of improvisation.

ISCO group and title

2269 – Health professionals not elsewhere classified





  1. Dance therapist – ESCO
Last updated on August 8, 2022