In the UK the DMP pioneers started to develop their practice in the early part of the second half of the last century (1960s-1970s).  Unlike those in the USA they came from health and education backgrounds, some having been trained in Laban movement which values the individual’s choice of movement and self- initiated vocabularies. Rudolph von Laban, a dance theorist and choreographer, influenced the art of movement leading to all primary and specialist physical education teachers being trained in the technical aspects of expressive movement (modern educational dance) (Laban 1963) in the UK until the late 1970s when contemporary dance became the norm in schools. Laban (1959) was writing about the use of movement as therapy in UK and developed the diagnostic analysis of dance and movement that helps dance movement therapists to observe and record the movement process.

Drawing on these developments professionals in the UK from a wide variety of disciplines including dancers, dance educators, occupational therapists, and physical education teachers extended the work to marginalized populations to begin DMP as we know it today. For example, Chloe Gardiner was an occupational therapist and Audrey Wethered, a musician and Jungian Analyst. Both trained with Laban and worked in psychiatric hospitals in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s (Wethered1973). Veronica Sherborne (1990), a physical educationalist trained with Laban, adapted his ideas for children with severe learning difficulties. Perhaps the most influential to the profession in the UK was Professor Helen Payne, who trained from 1970-73 in Laban as a physical education secondary school specialist, later at the Laban Centre studying LMA with Marion North, and with Walli Meir, Lisa Ullman and teachers trained with Mary Wigman (a dancer from central Europe taught by Laban) in the 1970s. She practiced in hospitals and special schools (Payne 1979; 1981; 1984a).

From 1978 Helen led the strategic direction for the formation of the limited company in 1982 - The Association for Dance Movement Therapy (Payne 1983; 1984b), together with Lynn Crane (secretary) and Catalina Garvey (treasurer). For seven years as Chair she led the Association from firm professional roots into its early growth. A regular newsletter, ethics policy, summer schools, peer support groups and supervision were all in place from the outset. Membership embraced practitioners, associates and students, which was necessary in the early development since so few people were engaging with this innovative form of embodied psychotherapy. In 1996 – following a number of years of students graduating as qualified therapists from the first post graduate programmes - the register for senior and basic practitioners became fully ratified.

In 1988 the first UK Post Graduate Diploma/MA in DMT was accredited by the then Council for National Academic Awards (CNAA), which was the state regulating body for awarding degrees at non-universities, and was developed by Helen (Payne 1985) at The Hertfordshire College of Art and Design, St Albans (now amalgamated with The University of Hertfordshire). This was already a centre of international excellence in Art Therapy and Dramatherapy and rich inter-disciplinary teaching was common. Some of the early pioneers from ADMT were amongst the final validating panel in 1988, for example Sarah Holden, Jeanette MacDonald and Dr Bonnie Meekums.

Later, in 1990, Helen’s work was published in Creative Movement and Dance in Group Work, republished in seven languages 12 times. Thereafter, in 1992, she edited Dance Movement Therapy: Theory and Practice (Routledge), the first publication to illustrate the work of other UK DMP practitioners and which documents the development of ADMP. These two books remain the cornerstones of theoretical texts recommended on training courses today.

In 1987 and 1989 two private foundation courses in DMT were developed at the Laban Centre, Deptford, London (as a franchise of the DMT course at the Hahneman Medical School, USA) and Froebel College (through the DMT trainer Marcia Leventhal, from the USA) respectively. The one at Froebel developed into a University accredited programme at Roehampton University and is now taught by UK practitioners. The Laban programme was eventually validated by City University. Prior to these courses movement therapy training was possible at a certificate level at Kingsway Princeton College of Further Education, Kings Cross, London via the Sesame course Drama and Movement in Therapy. Audrey Wethered taught on this option. After some negotiations ADMP UK accepted graduates from this course as members and still does today.

DMP has grown in its evidence base due to the foundations provided by the sustained efforts of a few early pioneers in the area of research in the 1980s and 1990s. Helen firstly sought to explore her DMP work with young male adolescents labelled delinquent as an MPhil in 1986, followed by a doctorate in an examination of the relationship between the process of the DMP personal development group in post graduate training and eventual DMP practice (Payne 1995).

Bonnie Meekums conducted a detailed evaluation of her work as a DMP and the development of mother-child interaction (1990) and a doctorate in DMP in an arts therapies programme for the recovery of women who had been sexually abused as children (Meekums 1998). Vicky Karkou (1998) has researched the whole field of arts therapies and all have published their findings.

These firm early foundations in the training of researchers have gone some way to helping DMP to become more recognised. Since 2000 others have completed studies in various areas of DMP practice.

It is a lifetime’s work though. Research has only just begun in earnest at post-doctoral level with, for example, the prestigious Cochrane reviews conducted by Bonnie and Vicky and practice-based evidence by Helen. Whilst many more doctorates are needed there is a now a foundation from which to build an evidence base for DMP in the UK. Helen has supported several students completing their doctorates and both Helen and Vicky currently have more students completing studies which will further contribute to the research base and hopefully independent post-doctoral studies. In addition, DMP has gained enormously from these efforts particularly as Vicky has recently joined Helen in being conferred as a Professor.

The idea of a fund-raising charity sister organization to ADMP remains on the back burner as other more pressing matters are dealt with by the volunteers.

ADMT became ADMP in 2008 and continues as a thriving, progressive and visionary organization.


Laban, R (1959) The educational and therapeutic value of dance. Laban Art of Movement Guild Magazine, 22 (May, Special commemorative number), 18-21.

Laban, R (1963) Modern Educational Dance. 2nd edition revised by L. Ullman. London: MacDonald and Evans. (First published1948).

Laban, R. (1980) The Mastery of Movement. 4th edition revised and enlarged by L. Ullman. London: MacDonald and Evans. (First published as The Mastery of Movement on the Stage, 1950).

Payne, H (1985) An innovation in Higher Education: A Proposed Dance Movement Therapy Training Course. Scottish Journal of Physical Education, 13, 4, 46-57

Payne, H (1985) Jumping for Joy. Journal for Psychology and Psychotherapy- Changes, 3, 3.

Payne, (West), H (1984a) Responding with Dance. Maladjustment and Therapeutic Education, 2, 2, 42-57.

Payne, H (1984b) Moving towards Dance Movement Therapy as a Profession. Laban Guild Journal, 71, 17-22.

Payne (West), H (1983) The development of the Association for Dance Movement Therapy. New Dance Magazine, 27, 17-19.

Payne, H (1979) Movement therapy in a special school. Conference Proceedings 28-37, Cambridge Institute of Education, University of Cambridge.

Payne, H (1981) Movement therapy in a special educational setting. British Journal of Dramatherapy, 4, 3, 14-20.

Sherborne, V (1990) Developmental Movement for Children. London: Worth Publishing

Wethered, A (1973) Drama and Movement in Therapy. London: MacDonald and Evans.


The Professional Association for Dance Movement Psychotherapy in the United Kingdom.

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