dance movement therapy, ideological hegemony, arts-based research, interprofessional, values
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The inspiration and starting point for this keynote address is a story told by a young American dance therapist, a story which seemed to me to encapsulate key aspects of the experience of dance therapists everywhere: firstly the lack of recognition of dance therapy as serious professional practice and secondly the difficulties we dance therapists face in speaking our ‘truth’ to others. While we see every day the value of the work of dance therapy, we continue to feel in some way lesser than other professionals, constantly needing to prove that what we do has value.
I introduce the concept of ideological hegemony, which suggests that the dominant paradigm or world view sets the agenda for what is valued and what is not. Thus it may well be that lack of professional recognition has less to do with lack of evidence and more to do with the fact that dance therapy lies outside the dominant biomedical paradigm. Far from seeing this as a cause for despair, I suggest that we use this awareness to put our energies into strengthening our profession through good practice, peer support, writing, and appropriate research. In talking in our own voices, from our own truth, we have a strong base from which to reach out and negotiate the space we share with others.