Alyssa Infranco MS '15
Ridge, NY

What prompted you to pursue a graduate degree?

As a child, I grew up dancing at my local studio on Long Island. As I became older, my connection to dance and the arts grew and I attended the University at Buffalo in hopes of furthering my dance career. In college, I completed an internship at a dance studio for children with special needs called Moving Miracles. Having a brother with Cerebral palsy, I felt as if I were giving back and continued to volunteer until I graduated in 2013. While in school, a Dance/Movement Therapist came into my teaching methods class and I remember specifically having a moment of “this is what I am going to do.” I then applied to graduate Dance/Movement Therapy programs and decided on Sarah Lawrence and am forever pleased with my decision.

How did graduate school fit into your life at the time?

I attended Sarah Lawrence College after my undergraduate studies at the University at Buffalo. I am from Long Island but I moved to Westchester to attend school.

Why did you choose Sarah Lawrence College for your graduate studies?

I chose Sarah Lawrence College for two important reasons: the staff and location. The faculty was warm, welcoming, and extremely knowledgeable. I felt extremely comfortable with the entire Dance/Movement Therapy faculty. The location was the second aspect of importance, being close to home and New York City. I enjoyed the atmosphere of the campus and the surrounding environment.

What role did the Sarah Lawrence faculty play in your time here?

The Sarah Lawrence faculty was extremely helpful throughout my time in graduate school. The faculty were not only helpful in class, but outside of class as well. Whether through e-mails or telephone calls, my professors were available, carving out the time in their hectic schedules to answer any questions I had, and to process anything that happened in my internship or the daily stress of graduate school.

What experience as a Dance/Movement Therapy student had the greatest impact on you?

It is difficult to identify one experience in graduate school that had the greatest impact on me. There were several times where a memorable moment was shared among my professors and cohort. If I were to pick one of the more meaningful and memorable moments I would have to say it was our final Graduate Seminar IV movement project. Earlier in the semester, we were instructed to create a midterm incorporating Creative Arts Therapy, delving into different mediums of expression including dance, music, drama, poetry, and visual art. In our final project, we were to take bits of our midterm projects and incorporate them into a group movement closing ritual. We had two weeks to prepare for this presentation. This project allowed us to work together to create a meaningful close to our time here in the graduate dance/movement therapy program. In approaching this final project, we discussed all of our options, exploring small sections from everyone’s midterm project that stood out to us. We created a structure for this project, naming ideas for each section: coming into space, rhythm, individual movement exploration, and group cohesion as we moved in the space together bringing our project to a close. In this final project, we were able to express ourselves individually as well as a group, which to me, made the experience more powerful. Our professors and other students who happened to be walking by observed this project. This experience was important for me because we were able to use movement and trust to help execute this project, knowing that there was no right or wrong. This project called for us to be completely present, having no other cares or worries and simply being with each other enjoying this last movement experience and sharing our love for what we do with others.

How did your coursework prepare you for your internship/fieldwork, and how did that experience prepare you for your career?

My classes, fieldwork, and internship experiences provided me with great insight into dance/movement therapy and why it is important for all populations. I not only learned the theory, movement efforts, and fluid systems, but also the importance of group work, clinical documentation, culture, and creative arts. My fieldwork and internship placements provided me with the opportunity to work with several different populations. I was able to gain the felt experience of observing and leading dance/movement therapy groups, seeing how effective this form of therapy is and different techniques utilized within the group setting. Now, I feel extremely prepared for my career and current job, bringing dance/movement therapy to five different inpatient psychiatry units in Connecticut.

Where did you do your internship and fieldwork?

Throughout graduate school, I had two separate fieldwork placements and an internship. My first fieldwork placement was at the Andrus Early Learning Center in Tuckahoe, NY. I observed and assisted a dance/movement therapist in a daycare setting for preschool children. My second fieldwork placement was at the 14th Street Y in New York City, where I worked with children on the Autism Spectrum, observing and later leading dance/movement therapy groups. My yearlong internship was at Bellevue Hospital in NYC where I participated and lead dance/movement therapy groups on two inpatient units, an Incarcerated Psychiatry Unit, and a Dual Diagnosis Unit. I contributed to patient assessment and treatment planning, as well as lead an in-service for the treatment team and hospital staff.

What is life like as a graduate student at Sarah Lawrence?

Life was extremely busy as a graduate student. I lived off campus in an apartment and arrived to campus by walking or riding my bike. I made friends easily within my program and from other departments. I was also fortunate enough to participate in the Open Dance Concert each semester, sharing my love and passion for movement with others.

What advice can you offer to prospective graduate students?

I would not change my experience in graduate school for anything. At times, I found myself becoming easily overwhelmed with the amount of school work. I was struggling to find time to complete all of the assigned readings. If I could pass down any advice, it would be to not stress about the workload. With time, I learned it was best to pick a few readings to read thoroughly rather than reading everything and not giving it as much focus. I found that as I focused more on specific readings, I retained more information and could apply it to both my class and internship settings.

What is the strongest attribute of Sarah Lawrence's Dance/Movement Therapy program?

I think one of the strongest attributes of the Dance/Movement Therapy program is communication. The professors communicate well with one another to make sure assignments are due at different times, making the workload less stressful. As a student, you are also able to e-mail any faculty member with any questions and they get back to you as soon as they can. The assignments are communicated clearly and are well thought out. I found myself always e-mailing my professors questions about the material or any thoughts I had about class and found the open lines of communication most helpful.

What are you up to now?

About a month and a half out of school, I was employed by St. Vincent's Behavioral Health in Westport, CT. I was hired as a rehabilitation therapist working with children, adolescents, and adults on four different inpatient psychiatry units within the hospital. I attend morning report and team treatment planning meetings. I not only provide dance/movement therapy groups, but also have the freedom to explore other treatment-based groups including: coping skills, team building, stress management, symptom management, emotion regulation, meditation, and group therapy. I am currently working to receive my BC-DMT and my LCAT to reach my highest credentials as a dance/movement therapist.