NDIS for clients
Information for prospective clients and service providers.
This page offers information for clients and service providers who might seek to engage with dance movement therapists using NDIS funding. While dance movement therapy is not currently recognised as a directly fundable service by the NDIS (as music and art therapy are) the DTAA is working to address this issue.
- Download Brochure: DMT and NDIS
What is dance movement therapy?
‘Dance movement therapy (DMT) is the relational and therapeutic use of dance and movement to further the physical, emotional, cognitive, social and cultural functioning of a person. DMT is based on the empirically-supported unity of body and mind. It recognises that change and growth in one supports change and growth in the other. Dance movement therapists combine the elements of dance, movement systems, creative processes, and psychological and scientific theories, to address the specific needs of groups and individuals’ (DTAA, 2019).
Dance movement therapy (DMT) is delivered by professionally trained practitioners who have Professional or Provisional Professional registration status with the Dance Movement Therapy Association of Australasia (DTAA). DM therapists utilise person-centred and inclusive approaches to promote verbal and non-verbal attunement with their clients, nurturing safe, confidential and supportive therapeutic relationships. These enable clients to work towards a range of therapeutic outcomes that are meaningful to them. More information and definitions are available here.
Who could benefit from DMT?
DMT is an inclusive practice suitable for people of all ages and movement abilities. Previous experience or skill in dance or movement is not necessary. DMT is facilitated in educational, medical, community and private practice settings, often in collaboration with other allied health or educational practitioners. It can be facilitated for individuals, groups or in family therapy settings. There are established working models and practice with a range of people with disabilities including with those in early years or childhood, with cognitive disabilities, on the Autistic Spectrum, with physical disabilities, mental health or neurological conditions and those with Acquired Brain Injury.
What types of therapeutic outcomes can DMT support?
DMT goals are agreed upon by the participant and their DM therapist. They will align with the goals they have developed in the participant’s NDIS Plan. DM therapists can also collaborate or talk with a participant’s family, support networks and allied health workers they may already work with if desired. DMT goals developed will be specific to individuals, but some broad wellbeing areas DMT can support include physical mobility and stability, creativity and self-expression, emotional literacy and regulation, cognitive function and social skills.
What does a DMT session look like?
How a DMT session looks depends on the preferences and goals of participants and whether a session is for an individual or group. However common elements of DMT sessions include:
- Warm ups and dance activities through guided or improvised movement
- Opportunities to build on coordination, strength and agility through targeted dance and movement activities
- Opportunities for shared movement interactions; attunement with others through movement
- The use of props and music to support movement exploration and creative expression
- The opportunity to have one’s creative movement witnessed by a therapist and/or peers
- Opportunities for shared reflective discussion, writing or art-making after a dance experience
- Guided relaxation that utilizes breath and body work.
How do I find a registered dance movement therapist?
The Dance Movement Therapy Association of Australasia recognises only its Provisional Professional and Professional Members as dance movement therapists. The DTAA website listings provide brief professional biographies, geographic locations and contact details for each registered member currently practicing in Australia. These members undergo application and review processes to ensure they are trained at a level approved by the DTAA, have completed the required number of clinical practice, supervision and Continuing Professional Development hours stipulated by their membership level. These members are bound by the DTAA’s Code of Ethics. The DTAA provides a Complaints Procedure for members of the public who believe DTAA’s registered members may have not applied appropriate professional behaviour.
Which NDIS funding areas align with DMT practice?
Currently DMT is not recognised by the NDIS as a service type that can be registered. The DTAA is working towards becoming registered with the NDIS by undertaking extensive work on providing an evidence base through a systematic review of peer reviewed research, professionalizing its membership systems and generating information about DMT that can be shared with potential clients and other service providers.
How do DM therapists can work under the NDIS?
Currently DM therapists can work under the NDIS in a number of ways, including:
- Working with NDIS participants who self-manage their plans and do not require their service providers to be registered.
- Some DM therapists are employees of a registered service provider such as Day Service Centres and utilise NDIS price guide items within Core Supports such as Group Based Activities to facilitate and charge for DMT.
- Many DM therapists who have training in counselling and psychotherapy are registered as Clinical Members with the Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia (PACFA). PACFA is a national peak body for counsellors and psychotherapists and this field’s professional associations. The NDIS recognises PACFA members as appropriate professionals for working under its Individual and Group Counselling price guide streams.
- Some DM therapists also hold other professional qualifications such as physiotherapy or psychology in addition to their DMT qualifications. Some of these DM therapists work under the price guide item that connects with their other professional qualifications.
Professional Registration Groups
These registration groups require a service provider applicant to have professional qualifications and experience that align with the quality and safeguards compliance standards outlined by the NDIS. There are currently standards in place for WA, with those for other states being developed. The NDIS registration groups the DTAA considers as relevant to DMT practice include:
1. Registration Group: 0118 Early intervention supports for early childhood
Provision of a mix of therapies, and a key worker for the family. Supports all children 0-6 years with developmental delay or disability and their families to achieve better long-term outcomes, regardless of diagnosis. All children and families will be treated as individuals to ensure that they receive the right support to meet their goals and aspirations. The type of supports will be different for every child and their family according to their needs ().
2. Registration Group: 0128 Therapeutic supports
Therapeutic supports are provided to assist participants aged from 7 years to apply their functional skills to improve participation and independence in daily, practical activities in areas such as language and communication, personal care, mobility and movement, interpersonal interactions and community living.
3. Registration Group: 0126 Exercise, physiology and personal wellbeing activities
Physical wellbeing activities promote and encourage physical well-being, including exercise.
4. Registration Group: 0110 Positive behavioural support
Specialised Positive Behaviour Support registration group includes support items provided by allied health professionals with specialist skills in positive behaviour support including assessment and the development of a comprehensive plan that aims to reduce and manage behaviours of concern.
5. Registration Group: 0136 Group and Centre-Based Activities
Assisting participants to participate in group based community, social and recreational activities.
How do DM therapists assess and report against outcomes and goals?
DM therapists will typically conduct an initial assessment through discussion with a participant and their support networks. This may also include other professionals such as teachers or allied health workers. They may also arrange to observe a client in a setting in which they spend time in such school or home. Observation and interaction during the participant’s first few DMT sessions are also an important to initial assessment.
This initial information will support the client and DMT to agree on DMT-specific goals, their links to the participant’s NDIS goals and the number of sessions they would like to utilise. Some participants choose to access DMT as a regular part of their activity over longer periods such as a year or more; others may prefer to work in shorter time periods, for example over ten sessions.
If a client is accessing DMT with their NDIS funds, the DM therapist will need to have knowledge of an individual’s NDIS goals to ensure the DMT program aligns with them. These goals will be incorporated into any service agreement a DM therapist creates. (See here for an example of Service Agreement template created by the DTAA). However, if a DM therapist is working from within another service provider, they will need to specify which pricing guide item their service will fall under so it can be incorporated into the service agreement that provider makes with a participant. The DM therapist will also need to agree on how they work within the assessment and reporting requirements the service provider they are working under stipulates; this may involve the DM therapist submitting goal monitoring information, evidence of progress or simple report to a key worker belonging to that organization.
DM therapists use different methods for assessment during a program. Some use case notes and observation, while others use more formal methods such as assessment frameworks and tools designed specifically for DMT. An example of this type of assessment tool is called MARA (Movement Assessment and Reporting App). Many DM therapists with additional qualifications such as psychology or physiotherapy may also incorporate assessment tools from these professions.
Intake and initial assessment, creating service agreements and NDIS progress reports.
Whilst each dance movement therapist will have different approaches and documentation, the documents below provide examples of how a dance movement therapist might approach intake and initial assessment, creating service agreements and NDIS progress reports.
- DTAA DMT and NDIS Service Agreement Template – PDF
- DTAA DMT and NDIS Intake Form Template – PDF
- DTAA DMT and NDIS Progress Report Template – PDF
Some more reading and information about dance movement therapy
There is a growing body of literature that describes and evidences the use of DMT to support people with disabilities to increase their wellbeing. The list below offers links and references that provide examples and more in depth descriptions of DMT practice.
Peer reviewed articles and publications
Barnet-Lopez, S., Pérez-Testor, S., Cabedo-Sanromà, J., Oviedo, G.R., Guerra-Balic, M. (2016). Dance/movement therapy and emotional well-being for adults with intellectual disabilities. The Arts in Psychotherapy, 51, 10-15.
Barnet-Lopez et al. (2015). Developmental items of human figure drawing: Dance/movement therapy for adults with intellectual disabilities. American Journal of Dance Therapy, 37, 135–149.
Berrol, C. (1984). The effects of two movement therapy approaches on selected academic, physical and socio-behavioural measures of 1st grade children with learning and perceptual motor problems. American Journal of Dance Therapy, 7, 32-48
Caf, B, Kroflic, B, & Tancig, S. (1997). Activation of hypoactive children with creative movement and dance in primary school. The Arts in Psychotherapy, 24(4), 355-365.
Cosma, G., Dragomir. M., Brabiescu-Calinescu. L. & Cosma. A. (2017). The influence of the dance for people with down syndrome, Bulletin of the Transylvania University of Brasov, Series IX: Science of Human Kinetics, 10(1), 83-88.
Devereaux, C. (2019). Essentials of Dance Movement Psychotherapy: International Perspectives on Theory, Research and Practice: Helen Payne (ed.), London: Routledge
Dunphy, K., Mullane, S., & Allen, L. (2016). Developing an iPad app for assessment in dance movement therapy, The Arts in Psychotherapy, 5(54-62). http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.aip.2016.09.001.
Dunphy, K. (2020). Outcomes Framework for Dance Movement Therapy. Melbourne: Making Dance Matter. Retrieved from https://www.makingdancematter.com.au
Dunphy, K. & Hens, T. (2018). Outcome-focussed dance movement therapy assessment enhanced by iPad app MARA. Frontiers in Psychology. 9:2067. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.02067. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.02067/full.
This articles reports a trial of an assessment process applied in a DMT program for clients with intellectual disability, and includes discussion of the usefulness of the process in meeting agencies’ needs for outcome reporting, stimulated by the new demands of the NDIS in Australia.
Hens, T. & Dunphy, K. (2020). Planning a dance movement therapy program for clients with intellectual disability: considering NDIS, host agency and DMT priorities. Moving On, 17(1). https://dtaa.org.au/journal.
This article is written especially for dance movement therapists in Australia who are seeking to engage with the NDIS system. The authors presume the article will also have value for readers who need to plan DMT programs to address other funding and agency requirements, which might also include the ACC in New Zealand.
Jackie, E. (2015). Exploring sensory sensitivities and relationships during group dance movement psychotherapy for adults with autism, Body, Movement and Dance in Psychotherapy, 10(1), 5-20
Hildebrandt, M.K., Koch, S.C., & Fuchs, T. (2016). We Dance and Find Each Other: Effects of Dance/Movement Therapy on Negative Symptoms in Autism Spectrum Disorder, Behav. Sci. 6, 24; doi:10.3390/bs6040024
Jongen, P. J., Heerings, M., Ruimschotel, R., Hussaarts, A., Evers, S., Duyverman, L., . . . et al. (2016). An intensive social cognitive program (can do treatment) in people with relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis and low disability: a randomized controlled trial protocol. BMC Neurology, 16(1). doi:10.1186/s12883-016-0593-4
Koch, S., Mehl, L., Sobanski, E., Sieber, M., & Fuchs, T. (2015). Fixing the mirrors: a feasibility study of the effects of dance movement therapy on young adults with autism spectrum disorder. Autism, 19(3), 338‐350. doi:10.1177/1362361314522353
Lachance, B., Poncet, F., Proulx Goulet, C., Durand, T., Messier, F., McKinley, P., & Swaine, B. (2013). Effect of a dance therapy workshop on social participation and integration adults with motor deficits: An exploratory study. Annals of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine, 1, e162-e163.
Malling, S. (2013). Choreography and Performance with Deaf Adults who have Mental Illness: Culturally Affirmative Participatory Research. Am J Dance Ther, 35:118–141. DOI 10.1007/s10465-013-9157-y
Manders, E. J. (2016). Movement Synchrony and Interaction Quality in Individuals with ASD:
Mastrominico, A., Fuchs, T., Manders, E., Steffinger, L., Hirjak, D.,I Sieber, M., Thomas, E., Holzinger, A., Konrad, A., Bopp, N. & Koch, S.C. (2018). Effects of Dance Movement Therapy on Adult Patients with Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Behav. Sci. 8, 61; doi:10.3390/bs8070061
Mateos-Moreno, D., & Atencia-Dona, L. (2013). Effect of a combined dance/movement and music therapy on young adults diagnosed with severe autism. Arts in Psychotherapy, 40(5), 465-472.
Meekums, B. (2008). Developing emotional literacy through individual Dance Movement Therapy: a pilot study. Emotional and behavioural difficulties, 13(2), 95-110. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1080/13632750802027614
Okafor, U., Solanke, T., Akinbo, S., & Odebiyi, D. (2012). Effect of aerobic dance on pain, functional disability and quality of life on patients with chronic low back pain. South African Journal of Physiotherapy, 68(3), 11-14. doi:https://doi.org/10.4102/sajp.v68i3.18
Owen, S. (2017). I am here with you. In: Payne, H. (Ed.) Dance Movement Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice. London: Routledge.
Oxman, J., Fruchter, D., Webster, C., & Konstantareas, M. (1981). Autism: A review of the literature with particular emphasis on current approaches to treatment. Child & Youth Services, 3(1-2), 1-14. doi:10.1300/J024v03n01_01
Rosenblatt, L. E., Gorantla, S., Torres, J. A., Yarmush, R. S., Rao, S., Park, E. R., Levine, J. B. (2011). Relaxation response-based yoga improves functioning in young children with autism: a pilot study. Journal Of Alternative And Complementary Medicine, 17(11), 1029–1035. doi. 10.1089/acm.2010.0834
Samaritter, R., & Payne, H. (2017). Through the kinaesthetic lens: Observation of social attunement in autism spectrum disorders. Behavioral Sciences, 7(1). doi:10.3390/bs7010014
Samaritter, R. (2017). Shared movement: A dance-informed contribution to non-verbal interpersonal relating in autism spectrum disorders, In H. Payne (ed). Essentials of Dance Movement Psychotherapy: International Perspectives on Theory, Research. Abingdon: Taylor & Francis. Chapter 8. DOI:10.4324/9781315452852-8.
Scharoun, S., Reinders, R., Bryden, P., & Fletcher, P. (2014). Dance/movement therapy as an intervention for children with autism spectrum disorders, American Journal of Dance Therapy, 36(2), 209-228
Schmerling, J., & Kerins, M. (1987). Stimulating communication in a child with elective mutism: Collaborative interventions, American Journal of Dance Therapy, 10, 27-40.
Srinivasan, S., & Bhat, A. (2013). A review of “music and movement” therapies for children with autism: Embodied interventions for multi-system development, Frontiers in Integrative Neuroscience, 21.
Swaine, B. (2018). The effectiveness of dance therapy as an adjunct to rehabilitation of persons with a physical disability, Annals of Physical & Rehabilitation Medicine, 61, e402-e402.
Vasiļonoks, A., Zile, I., & Folkmanis, V. (2018). Efficiency Of Multisensoric Therapy In Autism Spectrum Disorder Patients, Multisensorās Terapijas Pielietojums Un Efektivitāte Bērniem Ar Autiskā Spektra Traucējumiem, 72(3), 193-195.
Wadsworth, J., & Hackett, S. (2014). Dance movement psychotherapy with an adult with autistic spectrum disorder: An observational single-case study, Body, Movement & Dance in Psychotherapy, 9(2), 59-73.
Books & Articles
Dunphy. K., & Scott. J. (2003). Freedom to move: Movement and dance for people with intellectual disabilities. Sydney: Elsevier. (Purchasable from www.dtaa.org.au).
Guthrie. J., & Roydhouse. J. (1989). Come and Join the Dance: a creative approach to movement for children with special needs. Melbourne: Hyland House. (Purchasable from www.dtaa.org.au).
Hill, H. (2014). Family Matters Dance. In Bayswater Buzz Newsletter https://dtaa.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/BayswaterBuzz-dancefamily.pdf
Levy. F. (2005). Dance movement therapy: A healing art (2nd Ed.) Reston, VA: American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance.
Smrekar Thompson, A., & Hens, T. (2017). Dancing to grow learn and connect: the benefits of dance movement therapy and creative dance, Source Kids Magazine, Summer. pp. 49-50.
Unchovich, G., Butte., C. & Butler, J. (Eds.), Dance movement psychotherapy for people with learning disabilities: Out of the shadows into the light (pp. 22-35). Oxon: Routledge.
Other articles about NDIS and dance movement therapy and related professions
Arts Access Victoria (2017). Art & You: A Planning Guide. Melbourne: Arts Access.
This self-advocacy toolkit outlines the process of becoming an NDIS participant, what people need to prepare, and how to begin talking about arts and cultural participation in a way that aligns with the NDIS.
Cameron, H. (2017). Long term music therapy for people with intellectual disabilities and the NDIS. Australian Journal of Music Therapy, 28, 1-15.
This article discusses issues which may be experienced by people with severe and profound intellectual disabilities, especially the issue of receiving long term therapy. The NDIS does not support long term therapy and recommends that assistants be trained to provide the service. Why this is a concern and the benefits of working with a registered music therapist are discussed.
Gingold, S. (2018). NDIS pathways review- signs of positive change to come. Melbourne: Disability Services Consultancy.
This article overviews the recently published NDIS Pathways Review that acknowledges problems that occurred during the rollout of the Scheme and the NDIA’s plans to address them. This article was reproduced with permission from Disability Services Consultancy. Their website has many resources on the NDIS. www.disabilityservicesconsulting.com.au
McFerran, K., Tamplin, J., Thompson, G., Lee, J., Murphy, M., & Teggelove, K. (2016). Music Therapy and the NDIS: Understanding music therapy as a reasonable and necessary support service for people with disability. Melbourne: University of Melbourne and Australian Music Therapy Association.
This document results from the findings of a small scoping study conducted to develop a better understanding of the needs, perspectives, and goals of all stakeholders in the provision of music-based services within the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).
NDIA (2018). Independent Pricing Review recommendations.
New recommendations from the NDIA re pricing.
NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission (2018)
This new independent agency established to improve the quality and safety of NDIS supports and services.
Simpson, S. (2017). Make art a priority in your NDIS plan. Artshub, 27 November. www.artsHub.org.au.
This article offers very useful information about resources to support clients access the arts through the NDIS.
The members’ page also provides questions and answers for DM therapists looking to work with the NDIS and people with disability.