About Us

Dance/Movement Therapy is defined by the American Dance Therapy Association (ADTA) as “the psychotherapeutic use of movement to promote emotional, social, cognitive, and physical integration of the individual."

Dance/Movement Therapists work throughout California in a wide variety of settings: mental health, educational, skilled nursing facilities, day care, rehabilitation, medical, wellness/prevention, health promotion programs, forensic settings, and private practice. In addition, dance/movement therapy is used with people of all ages, races, and ethnic backgrounds in individual, couples, family, and group therapy formats. 

“The dance/movement therapist focuses on movement behavior as it emerges in the therapeutic relationship. Expressive, communicative, and adaptive behaviors are all considered for group and individual treatment. Body movement, as the core component of dance, simultaneously provides the means of assessment and the mode of intervention for dance/movement therapy.”

–– ADTA 2016

Board of Directors



Malini Nagpal

Malini obtained her MA in dance/movement therapy in 1998 from University of California, Los Angeles, MA in science in 2005 from California School of Professional Psychology, and in 2012 a PhD specializing in Industrial Organizational Psychology. 



Elizabeth Fluck

Elizabeth received her BA in dance from Point Park University. She obtained her MA in dance/movement therapy from University of California, Los Angeles and her MA in Clinical Psychology from Santa Barbara Graduate Institute.



Megan Shaffer

Megan is a dance/movement therapist at Patton State Hospital, a forensic psychiatric hospital in San Bernardino, CA. She obtained her M.A. in clinical counseling with a specialization in dance/movement therapy at Lesley University and holds a B.F.A. in dance performance from California State University. As a dance/movement therapist Megan has worked with children, adolescents, and adults, focusing on crisis and trauma and severe mental illness. She is currently interested in investigating utilizing the creative process and performance as intervention tools to help patients learn about and make sense of their past, heal, and move forward. Megan is working towards her board certification as a dance/movement therapist (BC-DMT), as well as her licensure as a professional clinical counselor (LPCC). Megan continues to flourish in her beginning years as a practicing dance/movement therapist.



Chandra Chaikin

Chandra Chaikin earned her M.S. in Counseling from California State University, Fullerton and her B.A. in Psychology and Social Behavior from the University of California, Irvine. She trained in dance therapy with Danielle Fraenkel, Ph.D. via the Alternate Route Dance Therapy Program at Kinections in Rochester, NY. She is a Spanish-speaking Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. Chandra has spoken widely on the healing potential of Dance Therapy (having given presentations at Cal Optima, NAMI, the South Bay Therapist Network and in the community through the South Bay Eating Disorder Coalition) and has facilitated dance and movement workshops for people suffering from eating disorders and chronic mental illness, for dual diagnosis adolescents and for survivors of sexual assault. Chandra has interned with Alison Salter, BC-DMT and the Prime Hospital Group, the Victorian Residential Treatment Center for Eating Disorders, Newport Academy and Project RENEW. Chandra is currently in private practice in Redondo Beach, CA and does a weekly DMT group for adults with eating disorders at Center For Discovery, Palos Verdes.  


Programming Chairs

Kiran Easwarachandran (Northern California)  MA, R-DMT

Aditi Uttarwar (Northern California)  MA, R-DMT


Erin Howe (Southern California)

Erin Howe is a dance/movement therapist in San Diego, CA. She works at Aurora Behavioral Health Hospital in San Diego and Center for Discovery in Long Beach, CA providing movement therapies for inpatient behavioral health and chemical dependency services for children, adolescents, adults, and older adults. Erin obtained her M.A. in dance/movement therapy and counseling from Columbia College Chicago, IL, and holds a B.A. in Psychology with a minor in Dance from CSU San Marcos, San Diego, California. Erin is committed to helping spread knowledge about DMT to the San Diego area. She has been spending her time as a guest artist/presenter at CSUSM regarding DMT and wishes to continue leading presentations. Erin looks forward to completing her hours for California state licensure (LPCC) and moving into private practice.


Bobbi McKissick (Southern California)

Bobbi McKissick received her MA in Dance/Movement Therapy and Counseling from Columbia College Chicago. She holds BA degrees in both Dance and Psychology from University of Maryland. She is a dance/movement therapist at Patton State Hospital, a forensic psychiatric hospital in San Bernardino, CA. She was previously working at an in-patient psychiatric center in Long Beach, CA. Bobbi offers movement therapies, yoga and meditation to adults with severe mental illness. In addition, she has taught adaptive dance classes with children with disabilities through Segerstrom Center for the Arts. She is working towards obtaining her hour requirements for California state licensure (LPCC) and board certification for dance/movement therapy (BC-DMT). She is a 200hr-RYT, with additional trauma-informed yoga training. Bobbi has clinical experience with children with developmental disabilities, geriatrics, adults with mental illness and substance abuse, and adults with traumatic brain injury. 

Government Affairs Chair Committee

Deva Connett

Deva Connett is a board certified dance/movement therapist, certified Laban movement analyst and licensed professional clinical counselor. She graduated from Wittenberg University with a Bachelor of Arts in English and minored in theater and dance. After briefly working in business, she returned to school and received her master of arts from Columbia College Chicago in dance/movement therapy and counseling. In Chicago, Deva worked with various populations including clients with traumatic brain injuries, substance abuse, depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, and PTSD. At Riveredge Hospital where she worked for 3 years, she helped to create an intensive outpatient program for adolescents and focused her work in the program on utilizing creativity and relationships to help her clients grow, learn, and heal. While in Chicago, Deva danced professionally with Tiffany Lawson Dance until relocating to Los Angeles in 2014. In therapy, Deva utilizes a holistic approach that helps clients connect and integrate the mind and body.


Anna O'Connell

Anna O'Connell moved to CA from Chicago in 2014 and recently moved from Los Angeles to San Francisco in 2018. Anna has various clinical experiences with several types of populations including inpatient and outpatient psychiatric patients with acute mental illness, adolescents, teen mothers, and women with addiction, physically and cognitively developmentally challenged individuals, and geriatric psych. In addition to her BC-DMT she holds a graduate certificate in Laban movement analysis. Anna loves the sun and all the wonderful activities that we are fortunate enough to enjoy everyday in CA.   

Kristen Crowe


Communications Chairs

Julia Rose-Ramo

Maria Ninos

Maria Ninos obtained her MA in Dance/Movement Therapy and Counseling from Columbia College Chicago, as well as her Certification in Laban Movement Analysis. She received her B.A. in Dance from Loyola Marymount University. She currently resides and works in Long Beach, CA at College Hospital Cerritos working with clients with acute mental illness. Her passion for mind and body also includes teaching Pilates and yoga classes in Long Beach. When she is not working or advocating for the field of DMT, she is performing and competing in salsa.

Student Representative

Alice Astarita

Alice Astarita graduated with a PhD in Applied Linguistics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in August 2015. She holds degrees from Middlebury College (MA) and Wellesley College (BA). While completing the solitary and sedentary act of writing a dissertation, she got involved with her local dance/movement community both as a participant and leader/producer. She remarked the power of movement to transform her mental and physical health and decided to pursue DMT training. Alice is presently on the Alternative Route to licensure. As the student representative, she will focus on facilitating a smooth transition for fellow DMT students by continuing to build the directory of internship sites and supervisor options. When Alice is not hosting a small weekly community movement practice in La Jolla, CA or performing in dance theater pieces around San Diego, you'll find her teaching Italian online or working with Class Action (a non-profit that seeks to raise awareness about classism).

Nominations Chair

Lisa Manca

Lisa Manca is a licensed professional clinical counselor and certified dance/movement therapist. Lisa provides verbal therapy, dance/movement therapy, or a combination of the two. Lisa believes the mind and body are intimately connected and that movement is an ideal modality for both diagnosing and providing interventions for mental illnesses. Lisa has over eight years experience working with adults, children and seniors. She is currently work as Director of Activities at the Mental Health Rehabilitation Center in the San Francisco area.