AcademicsGraduate AcademicsClinical Mental Health CounselingSomatic Counseling: Dance/Movement Theories & Practice

Clinical Mental Health Counseling MA

Somatic Counseling: Dance/Movement Theories & Practice Concentration

Gain clinical counseling skills and experience firsthand the healing potential of dance with Naropa’s Somatic Counseling: Dance/Movement Theories & Practice concentration.

About this Concentration

This unique concentration combines movement therapy with contemplative practice and clinical mental health counseling.

The Dance/Movement Theories & Practice concentration provides students with the theoretical, clinical, and professional skills to be effective counselors grounded in the integration of body, mind, and movement.

In this concentration, you’ll encounter both traditional and innovative dance/movement therapy approaches while exploring self-psychology, the Gestalt-influenced movement cycle, and applied neuroscience.

Beyond its academic depth, the master’s program in dance therapy offers opportunities for physical, spiritual, and emotional development. You’ll delve deeply into creative methods for client interaction, employing improvisation, rhythm, and metaphor to discover and express your authentic self. 

Naropa’s Dance/Movement Therapy program is one of only seven dance therapy degrees approved by the American Dance Therapy Association. Naropa’s Somatic Counseling tracks are designed to help students gain the certifications they need for successful careers as dance movement therapists.

Participants in the program must fulfill a practicum and engage in a 700-hour clinical internship, emphasizing impactful service and enabling observation and involvement within the mental health and broader community as incoming therapists. These experiences expose students to diverse populations, fostering familiarity and enhancing their community comfort level.

Naropa’s course offerings are designed to create a matrix of learning in which study in each area connects and complements study in other areas. As students concentrate on a particular course, they are prompted by experienced faculty to consider insights and interconnections from other classes. 

Violet brush

Quick Facts

Yellow brush

Program Format

The MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, Somatic Counseling: Dance/Movement Theories & Practice Concentration is a three-year on-campus program that focuses on counseling, the healing potential of the creative experience, and the therapeutic properties of conscious movement sequencing.

Students in the concentration receive robust training in somatic movement therapy’s theoretical aspects. Alongside, they delve into mindfulness practices and accumulate hands-on clinical expertise.

While pursuing your Clinical Mental Health Counseling degree, you’ll understand the essential and dynamic exchange between mind and body as both elements continuously influence one another in a symbiotic relationship. 

Course Spotlight

Current Methods & Skills in Psychotherapy

Major current approaches in psychotherapy theory and practice, including Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), Dialectic Behavior Therapy (DBT), and Solution Focused Therapy are explored. Students have the opportunity to examine how each of these methods operates independently, as well as how they interface with more traditional approaches. Students also begin to work with these approaches in a way that builds clinical skill development in alignment with a somatic psychotherapy orientation.


The Dance/Movement Theories and Practice Concentration spans 64 credits over three years, emphasizing counseling skills, harnessing the transformative power of creative experiences, and using intentional movement sequencing for therapeutic benefits.

The concentration is designed to follow standards for Clinical Mental Health Counseling as well as guidelines from the American Dance Therapy Association (ADTA). The concentration has been an ADTA-approved program since 1987.

Counseling Experiential Requirement

Each student must participate in a counseling/therapy relationship with a qualified psychotherapist of their choice. A minimum of fifteen 50-minute face-to-face sessions (via telehealth or in person) within the first two years of the program is required. (The term “psychotherapist” is used to be inclusive of licensed providers from a variety of professional mental health backgrounds. The Student Guidebook outlines specific parameters of a qualified psychotherapist.) 

Course Schedule

  • CMHC 600, Foundations and Orientation of Clinical Mental Health Counseling (3)
  • CMHC 601, Social/Multicultural Foundations (3)
  • CNSD 617, Foundations of Dance/Movement Therapy in Counseling (2)
  • CNSS 646, Contemplative Practices for Somatic Counseling I (1)
  • CMHC 603, Counseling and Helping Relationships I (3)
  • CMHC 602, Human Growth and Development (3)
  • CNSS 658, Applied Anatomy and Neuroscience in Counseling (2)
  • CNSS 622, Body/Movement Observation/Assessment (3)
Summer Year 1 (Off, 0 Credits)
  • CMHC 604, Counseling and Helping Relationships II (3)
  • CMHC 605, Group Counseling (3)
  • CMHC 606, Legal and Ethical Aspects of Counseling (3)
  • CNSD 716, Specialized Approaches in Dance/Movement Therapy (2)
  • CNSS 663, Family Systems (3)
  • CNSS 606, Advanced Counseling Skills (3)
  • CMHC 607, Diagnosis and Treatment Planning (3)
  • CMHC 620, Counseling Practicum (3)
  • CMHC 609, Research & Program Evaluation (3)
  • CMHC 608, Assessment (3)
  • CNSD 621, Extended Practicum (Dance/Movement Approaches in Counseling (1)
  • CMHC 622 Internship I (3)
  • CNSS 664 Crisis, Trauma & Disaster Counseling (3)
  • CMHC 615 Capstone (1)
  • CMHC 623, Winter Intersession Internship (0)
  • CMHC 624, Internship II (3)
  • CMHC 610, Career Development (3)
  • CMHC 616, Capstone II (1)

Why Choose Naropa?

Contemplative Approach

Naropa’s curriculum emphasizes mindfulness and moving meditation as well as diversity and community engagement. Naropa’s Somatic Counseling programs will help transform you into a deeply aware therapist who is passionate about helping others create change in their bodies, minds, and lives, by first working with yourself.

Blue brush

Diversity & Inclusion

Naropa University is dedicated to embracing diversity and inclusive education. This is helpful in understanding and showing qualities that bring people together, aiming for a fair and united society.

Community-Based Learning

Through internship experiences, students become acquainted with different populations as they observe and participate in the community. This hands-on learning offers them the opportunity to act as professionals in training, gaining invaluable real-world experience and skills.

Blue brush
White wildflowers with yellow center.

How this Program Prepares You

Clinical Experience

Your second year in the Dance/Movement Therapy program begins with supervision and mentoring during a 200-hour practicum. You’ll then begin your 700-hour internship journey in your third year, participating in collaborative team meetings and receiving clinical supervision as you lead dance therapy sessions and groups.

Movement Therapy Certification

Upon graduation, students in the dance/movement therapy concentration will have fulfilled the requirements for the American Dance Therapy Association’s initial registration as a Registered Dance Movement Therapist (R-DMT). Program graduates can apply for the R-DMT credential as soon as their degree is completed

Diverse Learning

Graduate students in the dance therapy program gain a strong theoretical grounding in somatic movement therapy. Additionally, they engage in mindfulness practices and accumulate extensive clinical exposure. The ultimate goal is for each of our graduates to become self-aware, compassionate therapists who nurture mind-body synchronization.

What You'll Learn

Integrative Psychotherapy

Demonstrate critical thinking, academic expertise, theoretical knowledge, and practical clinical skills.

Clinical Counseling

Apply techniques, skills, and interventions to help the body heal the mind.

Be Present

Maintain continuous awareness of sensations, emotions, body, and thoughts.

Mindfulness Meditation

Recognize and point to moments of brilliant sanity in yourself and others.