ARBN 633105736

Tessa Hearnes

Tessa Hearnes – Bio


Tessa Hearnes (DTAA Prov Prof DMT) is a practicing dance movement therapist with a specialisation in children and adults with intellectual disabilities. She has extensive experience in the disability field having worked as a specialist teacher in the UK; and in her current role as a Program Manager for a disability service provider in Australia. She is also a Community Fellow of the University of Melbourne’s Social Equity Institute through which she is researching methodologies for increasing client agency and voice in creative arts therapy assessment processes. Tessa has collaborated with Dr. Kim Dunphy previously in trialling the use of DMT-specific assessment frameworks and an app tool and recently contributed to an article on the subject in Frontiers in Psychology.

Planning DMT program for clients with intellectual disability

Edition: 2019 Vol. 16 Nos. 1-2

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) in Australia offers new opportunities for funding of dance movement therapy (DMT) programs for people with disability. The NDIS’ emphasis on participant choice and focus on outcomes propels new directions in service provision, with agencies impelled to consider individuals’ preferences and report on progress with more rigour than they may have brought before. This change provides a challenge for dance movement therapists, as many practitioners have limited experience of working in a specifically outcomes-focussed way. This article addresses these issues by documenting the process of planning, goal setting, assessment and reporting in a DMT program for clients with intellectual disability. This process considers three different sets of outcome considerations: NDIS funding requirements; outcomes currently identified in participants’ individualised program planning; and objectives of a DMT program. In so doing, the article articulates the relationship between NDIS funding requirements and the potential offering of DMT. It also provides DM therapists a model for how they might clarify the objectives of their own programs to make them NDIS-compatible and enable reporting of relevant outcomes to stakeholders.

Key words: dance movement therapy, intellectual disability, National Disability Insurance Scheme, planning, outcomes.

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Dance movement therapy in Australia: a survey of practitioners and practice

Edition: Dance Therapy Collections 3

dance movement therapy, Australia, dance therapists, Dance Movement Therapy Association of Australia

Page #: 51

Authored by: Kim Dunphy, with T. Hearnes & J. Toumbourou
This article reports the results of a survey of 41 dance movement therapy practitioners in Australia. Issues for dance-movement therapy practice in Australia were investigated within the themes of practitioners; programs and clients; and philosophical and industrial concerns. Overall, it was apparent that the dance-movement therapy profession in Australia is both diverse and homogenous: therapists’ professional orientations and backgrounds, and the types of settings in which they work, are very diverse, but therapists are much more similar in their ages, gender, cultural backgrounds and geographic location. The issues raised by the variation and lack of diversity are discussed, along with possible strategies to address them.


Dance and Disability: A Student’s Experience

Edition: 2007 Vol. 6 No. 2

professional development, education, creative play, arts & crafts, LMA, therapeutic relationship

Tessa reflects on aspects of her professional learning journey on placement in a day centre as a post graduate diploma student in DMT. Grappling with the ‘politics’ in disability services and the questions of education versus therapy, Tessa shares her own making sense of what is important in the group sessions she leads, exemplified by a creative themed container whereby participants created their own costumes and enacted a ‘Masquerade Ball. Images of the clients and therapeutic outcomes are presented and values of a developing a DMT practice are discussed. (pp 13-16)

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