What I Offer

I am a registered Dance Movement Psychotherapist (DMP), a Private Practitioner, Clinical Supervisor, Certified Movement Analyst, and Movement Teacher. Please see the below summaries of the services I offer, and follow the links to find out more!

Mobius Strip - Photo by Layla Smith

Clinical Supervision

Individual or group supervision sessions for therapists, trainee therapists and health care professionals with an interest in an embodied approach.

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Puzzle Pieces - Photo by Layla Smith


I teach creative and therapeutic movement sessions to both adults and children in day centres, schools, colleges and universities. Participants are...

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About Me

Photo of Layla Smith, Movement Psychotherapist

Layla Smith


I am a registered Dance Movement Psychotherapist (DMP), a private practitioner, clinical supervisor, Certified Movement Analyst and movement teacher. I offer movement psychotherapy sessions using an Integrative approach of Humanistic theories to both individuals and groups and offer supervision to trainee therapists, therapists and other healthcare professionals. I create specialist individual or group Laban Movement Analysis (LMA) and movement observation sessions for educational purposes, continued professional development (CPD) and personal development.

Professional Experience

I worked as a Dance Movement Psychotherapist for eight and a half years in secondary care in the NHS; inpatient & community acute adult mental health, continuing care in severe dementia and in primary care, IAPT (Improving Access to Psychological Therapies), facilitating groups for people with medically unexplained symptoms. As a teacher, I facilitate different DMP (Foundation and MA) workshops in higher education.
Other clinical experience since 2006 includes: adult and child mental health, severe dementia, acute adult mental health, learning disabilities, chronic depression, medically unexplained symptoms, eating disorders and forensics.

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What I can help with

Loss, stress, anxiety, depression, body image issues and eating disorders, physical and sexual abuse, identity problems, personal development, relationships, learning disabilities, sensory difficulties, physical disabilities, emotional and behavioural difficulties.

Therapeutic Approach

I aim to provide a safe, contained and non-judgemental environment to support and empower an individual in their personal exploration. My theoretical approach is Integrative combining Humanistic, Attachment and Development perspectives and my therapeutic approach aims to help integrate body and mind through verbal and non-verbal communication.
With focus on working with being present in the moment, I encourage creative, playful and spontaneous movement to explore any themes and emotions which may emerge in a session. This exploration of creative potential is useful as both therapeutic tool and a life skill. Learning to understand, trust and follow body signals and impulses can help develop body and emotional awareness and allow opportunities for personal growth and change.
As a requirement to my DMP practice I adhere to the ethical code of practice outlined by the Association of Dance Movement Psychotherapy UK (ADMPUK) of which I was on council from 2010-2012, hold a current enhanced DSB; Disclosure and Barring Service certificate for working with vulnerable adults and children and insurance. As part of my practice as a DMP I have regular clinical supervision to ensure the continued development of therapeutic aims and objectives as well as to approach any difficulties arising. My Continued Professional Development (CPD) skills are updated yearly through attending varied embodied workshops, trainings and conferences.

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Research movement psychotherapy groups

Movement psychotherapy based research groups I have been and am involved in are: Chronic Depression and Negative Symptoms of Schizophrenia (NESS) project for Adults with Schizophrenia and Medically Unexplained Symptoms in Primary Care which is research piloting a new innovative care pathway funded by the Health Foundation. Chronic depression paper see this link.

Education & Background

Originally I trained as a dancer in classical ballet and contemporary dance in England, Belgium and New York. In 1986 I studied an Art Foundation in Liverpool Polytechnic, from 1986-89 trained in Brighton in Visual and Performing Arts at Brighton University and gained a BA honours degree and thereafter worked as a dancer, performer and teacher of dance and visual art.
In 1994 I moved to NYC to study Laban Movement Analysis at The Laban Bartenieff Institute of Movement Studies where I qualified as a Certified Movement Analyst (CMA). After returning to the UK and continuing dancing, performing and teaching I retrained as a Dance Movement Psychotherapist (RDMP) at Roehampton University and as a teacher (DTLLS) through Canterbury Christchurch University. From 2013-14, I trained at Roehampton University to be a DMP Supervisor.

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Client Groups

I have experience of running movement groups since 1997; with children, children and parents/carers, adolescents, carers and adults with learning disabilities and the older population. Movement Psychotherapy group experience since 2006 includes: adult and child mental health, mothers and children under 5, severe dementia, acute adult mental health, learning disabilities, chronic depression, medically unexplained symptoms, eating disorders and forensics.
Since 2010 I worked as a DMP running individual and group sessions at East London NHS Foundation Trust in inpatient and outpatient Acute Adult Mental Health. From 2017-2018 I worked as project manager and therapist in primary care IAPT running groups for people with Medically Unexplained Symptoms.

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Dancing Experience

RAD Classical Ballet all grades until Advanced level, Simonson and Modern Jazz, Contemporary, Modern, Tap, Improvisation, Basic Break dance, Indian, Bartenieff Fundamentals, Developmental Movement Patterns, Ballroom & Latin for Wheelchair dance.
Other movement experience: Authentic Movement practice (1 year group). Site specific dance performances include: NYC, Dance Umbrella, Resolution and international touring choreographing children’s shows. Dance film work includes “I Can’t Find Myself,” film about dementia (2015) “Becoming Bodies” by Beatrice Allegranti, Short film “Part of you, part of me” for Symposium for Embodying Loss choreographed by Layla Smith.

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Dance Film work combining clinical and creative reflective practice

Sept-Dec 2014 - Dancer and choreographic collaboration with director Beatrice Allegranti and composer Jill Halstead with three dancers and one actor for dance film on Dementia; ‘I Can’t Find Myself’ A short film which shows how engagement with dance, theatre and music ‘can enhance kinaesthetic and affective responses and provide new ways of understanding the experience’ of people living with dementia (Allegranti May 2015). View edited film ↗

July-August 2012 - Dancer and choreographic collaboration with 5 dancers, directed by Beatrice Allegranti for research and development project ‘Sex is a confusing term’. This came from the work Becoming Bodies and Allegranti questioned definitions and confusions between terms ‘sex and gender’ across cultural and scientific discourses.

June 2012 - Choreographer and dancer in dance film ‘Part of me, Part of you’ for Embodying Loss Symposium, CATR (Centre for Arts Therapies Research at University of Roehampton)

July-August 2011 - Dancer & choreographic collaboration with 7 dancers in dance film directed by Beatrice Allegranti, ‘Becoming Bodies’.

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I work in London, UK. The locations I practice from are Islington and Camden (North London), and Roehampton (South-West London). If you would like to inquire about working with me, please contact me.

Roehampton Islington &Camden


Here is a list of frequently asked questions, click or tap on a question to reveal an answer.
If you have a question that is still not answered, please contact me.

What is Dance Movement Psychotherapy?

It is a form of therapy that encourages self- expression, creativity and communication using the body. Within the context of a therapeutic relationship, it uses movement and verbal expression as a way of exploring and working through positive/negative emotional issues and unacknowledged feelings. Creative and spontaneous self-expression and the use of symbolism in the moment can help bring focus on body mind integration and promote healing. DMP engages people in an artistic and therapeutic process through which they can discover their own power to symbolise, organise and integrate important life experiences. DMP encourages the integration of physical, emotional, cognitive and social aspects of each individual.

What is the cost of a session?

The cost of a session is dependent on location, time of day and your financial circumstances.

I am a DMP student, can you be my therapist?

Yes, but this is dependent on which course you study on, any course other than Roehampton is fine. The reason being; I teach at Roehampton on the 2nd year MA and clear boundaries need to be maintained in order not to mix dual roles.

I am a DMP student, can you supervise me?

Usually students have supervision from tutors at their place of study. If you are at a stage where you are running sessions and need to find your own external supervision then yes I can provide this for you.

Do you have student discounts?

Yes a sliding scale may be possible, please contact me to discuss.

I'm on low income, can you help me?

Yes a sliding scale may be possible, please contact me to discuss.

I have private health insurance, does this cover my therapy costs?

At the moment movement psychotherapists are not affiliated with any private health insurance companies. The Association for Movement Psychotherapy UK (ADMP) is now in process of becoming registered with the UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP). Once this happens it will allow movement psychotherapy to be a covered therapy option within private health care insurance.

How much movement will be involved in a session?

Usually a session involves a mixture of moving and talking and there is no prescribed amount. It may feel strange to imagine exploring movement in a therapy session initially but often can start to feel more comfortable after 3 -4 sessions in conjunction with developing trust in the therapeutic relationship with the therapist. Sometimes you may not feel not like moving at all and that is okay too. All movement no matter how small or large, breath support and the subtleties are of equal importance as is to remember there is no right or wrong way to move. I encourage everyone to work within their body limitations at all times and people with disabilities are most welcome.

What is your theoretical orientation?

This is a popular question with students who are in a Psychodynamic training. Even though my theoretical approach is Integrative with Humanistic and Attachment and Development Theory, a large part of my work over years has been within Psychodynamic settings like the NHS. Here I work processes of transference and counter-transference in therapy and supervision.

How long is a session?

A Dance Movement Psychotherapy (DMP) session lasts 1 hour, a supervision session lasts 1 hour, an LMA session lasts 1 hour.
Group supervision sessions could last longer depending on number of participants.
Group DMP sessions last 1 hour.

What happens if I need to cancel a session?

My cancellation policy for Supervision and Dance Movement Psychotherapy sessions require discussion of contract arranged between client and therapist.

What is Laban Movement Analysis?

"Laban Movement Analysis is a theoretical framework and language for describing any movement, from a conversational hand gesture to a complex action. Certified Movement Analysts (CMAs) can observe, analyze, interpret, and prescribe movement experiences in ways that:
1. value the uniqueness of an individual’s (or culture’s) movement patterns;
2. asses physical blocks and dysfunctional movement patterns;
3. guide the individual through expressive and functional changes."
(LIMS, 1994)

LMA can offer ways of understanding and deconstructing how people cope in their environments and in relationship to self and others.

Why do we use LMA in Dance Movement Psychotherapy?

Dance Movement Psychotherapists (DMP) use LMA to gain an understanding of themselves and other’s movement profiles. It is useful to have an understanding first of your own movement preferences before you work with other people. As a DMP I work with feelings that emerge from the client and what they evoke in me which can be referred to as a felt–level response. In embodied clinical practice, dance movement psychotherapist’s use LMA as a tool to stand back and observe movement from a critical stance. It is useful to stand back and quickly be able to break down what you see when working with clients.

How is LMA helpful for clinical practice?

Learning language to describe movement using Laban and Bartenieff’s themes and Effort Factors of Weight, Space, Time and Flow can be helpful in simplifying and deconstructing sometimes complex movement patterns enabling clarity of intervention within clinical practice.


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