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19 Jan

Introduction to Ethics and Multicultural Competence for Dance/Movement Therapists

Ethical and multicultural competency has become an essential skill for psychologists and therapists. Ethics not only provides guidance for the practice of therapists, standardizes the industry standards, but also more clearly protects the rights of therapists and avoids risks. As a body-based dance therapy, special issues such as physical contact make ethics more complex.

This course will introduce the concept of ethical practice for dance/movement therapists. Students will become familiar with the American Dance Therapy Code of Ethics as it relates to clinical practice. Students will examine cultural group identities and multicultural competence models, and will understand the relationship of ethical practice to cultural identity and issues.

This course is a required training module of Inspirees Institute for Dance/Movement Therapy Program.

Register online for the course and 1 credit hour.




Joan Wittig, MS, BC-DMT, LCAT

Joan is the co-founder and former Director of the Graduate Dance/Movement Therapy Program at Pratt Institute in New York City, where she continues to be a full time faculty member. Wittig developed, implemented, and is the Program Director of the first dance/movement therapy training program in China from Inspirees Institute, and is co-founder and Director of the New York Center for the Study of Authentic Movement. She has contributed to several journals and books, including the first book on creative arts therapy published in Japanese. Wittig is the subject of a film on dance/movement therapy, “Moving Stories – Portraits of Dance/Movement Therapy”. She has received an Outstanding Service Award and an Exceptional Service Award from the American Dance Therapy Association. She is currently serving as the Chairperson of the ADTA Standards and Ethics Committee. Wittig teaches and presents internationally, and has a private practice in New York City.


Online webinar with interactive lectures, movement experiential, and Q&A. The course will consist of 4 sessions (Nov 7, Nov 28, Dec 19 2018 and Jan 10, 2019) of 2 hours each, taught live and recorded with English and Chinese subtitles. Each of the first three sessions will include exploration of material through movement experiential, as well as discussion of specific case material. Please come prepared with case material, and questions regarding ethical practice as it relates to case material.

Course Goals
  1. To learn and understand the concept of ethical practice of dance/movement therapy.
  2. To examine the impact of socio-cultural group identities, such as race, ethnicity, socio-economic status, gender identity, sexual orientation, migration status, religion and its implications to ethical practice.
  3. To become familiar with the ADTA Code of Ethics as it relates to clinical practice.
  1. Demonstrate knowledge of Code of Ethics for a dance/movement therapist
  2. Clearly formulate ethical decisions in specific cases
  3. Critique aspects of ethical decisions in specific cases
  4. Demonstrate how cultural identity interacts with ethical perspectives
  5. Demonstrate respect for different ethical perspectives

Students will be evaluated on the following:

  1. Understanding of ADTA Code of Ethics
  2. Understanding of group socio-cultural identities, and the relationship of such to ethical practice
  3. Ability to participate in ethical decision-making process

Methods of Evaluation:

  1.  Class participation (75%).  Students are expected to attend all sessions and to participate in experiential exercises and class discussions.
  2. Written assignments (25%)
  • Students will write a paper examining their own values and beliefs regarding dance/movement therapy, and their views on ethical practice (15%)
  • Students will write a paper making ethical arguments in support of their position on a given case example


  • ADTA Code of Ethics
  • Chinese Psychological Society Code of Ethics for Counseling and Clinical Practice (for Chinese participants)
  • Chang, M. (2009) – Cultural consciousness and the global context of dance/movement therapy in S. Chaiklin & H. Wengrower (Eds.), The art and science of dance/movement therapy: Life is dance.
  • Hervey, L. (2007). Embodied ethical decision making. American Journal of Dance Therapy.
  • Sue, D.W. & Sue, D., (6th edition) Chapter 5: Systemic Oppression: Trust, Mistrust, Credibility, and Worldviews. In Sue, D.W., & Sue, D. (2016). Counseling the culturally diverse: Theory and Practice. John Wiley & Sons: Hoboken, NJ.


Course plan

Session 1: Introduction

Joan Wittig, Nov 7, 2018

– Introduction to course, go over syllabus, expectations for participation.

– Why teach ethics? What is ethical practice? Why teach multicultural perspectives? What is multicultural perspective?

– Define terms: ethics, values, morals; cultural competence, race, ethnicity, culture, etc

– ADTA Code of Ethics section 1.0 Integrity within the Therapy Relationship:

  • Fundamental Respect for the Client
  • Informed Consent
  • Confidentiality and Privacy
  • Professional Role Boundaries
  • Use of Touch
  • Assessment
  • Duty to Protect Client
  • Financial Arrangements and Business Practices
  • Documentation and Record Keeping
  • Termination, Referral and Continuity of Care


Session 2: Immersion

Joan Wittig, Dec 19, 2018

– Discussion of embodied ethical approach – ladder of inference, awareness of thinking process and making it visible to others.

– ADTA Code of Ethics section 1.0 Integrity within the Therapy Relationship continued

– Section 2.0 Competences to Practice

  • Education and Training
  • Supervision and Consultation
  • Self-Care

– Section 4.0 Professional Representations and Announcement of Services

– Section 8.0 Ethical Decision Making and Adherence to Professional Standards and Laws


Session 3: International Ethical Issues

International Panel Discussion, Jan 17, 2019

Discussion of ethical issues around the world: how do cultural concerns impact implementation of ethical practice? How does relevant ethical practice vary around the world?

Panel list: Joan Wittig (US), Amanda Yang (Taiwan), Dimitrios Zachos (Greece), Sabine Koch(Germany),Dr. Tony Zhou (China/The Netherlands)

Session 4: Ethics and Multicultural Competence in Practice

Joan Wittig, Jan 25, 2019

– ADTA Code of Ethics section 2.3 Multicultural Competence

– Section 6.0 Advocacy and Promotion of Social Justice

– Understanding Cultural Identity


Register now  for all 4 sessions now and you can get Laban 17: Laban and Peace Mediation for free!

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