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About Marja Cantell, PhD

Sointula Beach House, BC

Marja Cantell is a Finnish born movement researcher and specialist who facilitates self-reflective and creative movement for individuals and groups in Europe and North-America. She has explored movement in different forms as long as she can remember, including dance, yoga, diving, sailing, x-country skiing, slalom, marathon running, hiking, kayaking, rowing, soccer, and volley ball.

In the exercise psychology context she offers consultation related to body image, physical activity, and healthy living. She is also available for body-based supervision for professionals in counseling, education and health care. 

Dr. Cantell is especially interested in the development and experience of physical self-perception and its impact to our relationships and well-being. She has expertise in children and adolescents with developmental challenges, e.g. children with movement difficulties, (sometimes called Dyspraxia or Developmental Coordination Disorder, see below), and adolescents with body image challenges (e.g., eating disorders or concerns over overweight and obesity). In addition, she facilitates self-exploratory movement sessions for adults and elderly with and without chronic illness. 

On a more personal note, Marja finds it fascinating that gradually also the scientific model recognizes that we human beings are neurologically endowed with the capacity for mutual knowing, understanding and feeling. Recent neuroscientific findings postulate that our social capacity is a product of neurobiology and early interpersonal interactions (see e.g., Gallese, Keysers, & Rizzolatti, 2002; Siegel, 1999, 2007). A more holistic understanding of body-mind interactions has begun to emerge in neuroscience and neurobiology (Berrol, 2006). It is thus possible to describe the process and outcome of body-mind practices, such as Dance Movement Therapy, using models that emphasize our artistic and creative needs as well as our innate need for mirroring and relationships. To put it simply:

We move to perceive ourselves in a relationship

to others and to our environment.

We move to express ourselves and to be seen

by the accepting other. 

Photo: C. Richardson


I would like to dedicate my movement

journey to my mentors who have taught me how to be the choreographer of my own life:

Leah Bartal, Rosa Shreeves, Dawne Larkin, Judith Slimmon and Anita Timmer. I am grateful for the shared paths. Thank you!

I'm also grateful of my family and friends for creating my day to day oasis. Dank jullie wel & Kiitos!


MA in Clinical Psychology 1991; minor studies in sport science and exercise psychology

University of Jyväskylä, Finland

Postgraduate Diploma in Dance Movement Therapy 1995

Roehampton University, UK

PhD in Psychology 1998

University of Lancaster, UK

Postdoctorate Fellowship in Human Movement Science 1999

University of Western Australia, Australia

University teacher training, 2000; 2013

University of Jyväskylä, Finland; University of Groningen, the Netherlands

Specialized movement training in Finland, UK, Australia, Canada and the Netherlands taught by reowned world experts:

Authentic Movement

Thank You to Marcia Plevin, Tina Stromstedt, Judith Koltai, Janet Adler

Movement Observation

Thank You to Penelope Best, Walli Meier, Katya Bloom, Mijna Hadders-Algra, Dawne Larkin, Darcy McGehee

Movement Anatomy

Thank You to Alice Cummins, Linda Hartley, Teija Häyrynen, Judith Koltai

Also courses in Jazz dance, Modern dance, African dance, Ashtanga Yoga, Sherborne Developmental Movement, Body Mind Centering, Contact Improvisation, Gabrielle Roth 5 Rhythms, Jungle Gym, Shindo, Psychomotricity, Feldenkrais Method, Alexander Technique, Marja Putkisto Method, Inclusive Dance Theatre, Meditation, CoreConnexion, DanceAbility, BodyBalance, Energetic Dance, Franklin Methode, Moving Cycle, Dansimprovisatie, Somatic Movement, Aerial Yoga

Specialized courses in creative and expressive arts

Thank You to Leah Bartal, Shaun McNiff and Carmen Richardson

Work Experience

Clinical Psychology Intern, Health Centre, Jyväskylä, Finland, 1989-1990

Occupational Psychologist, Manpower Office, Jyväskylä, Finland 1991-1992

Dance Movement Facilitator 1995-

Lecturer in Exercise Psychology, U. of Jyväskylä, Finland, 1997-2002

A/Professor in Paediatrics, U. of Calgary & Alberta Children's Hospital, Canada, 2002-2010 

Dance Movement Therapist, Eating Disorder Clinic, Alberta Children's Hospital, 2006-2010
Docent, Research Methodology in Psychology, U. of Groningen, 2011-2013 

A/Professor, Early Child Development & Special Educational Needs, U. of Groningen, 2012-

Research Coach, Master in Arts Therapies, Codarts University of the Arts, Rotterdam 2016-

BC Rocks

Selected Writings about Movement

Developmental Psychology/Human Movement Science

Van der Veer, G., Kamphorst, E., Cantell, M., Minnaert, A., & Houwen, S. (2020). Task-specific and latent relationships between motor skills and executive functions in preschool children. Frontiers in Psychology, 11, 2208. Open access:

Houwen, S., Kamphorst, E., van der Veer, G., & Cantell, M. (2019). Identifying patterns of motor performance, executive functioning, and verbal ability in preschool children: A latent profile analysis. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 84, 3-15. doi: 10.1016/j.ridd.2018.04.002  

Cantell, M., Houwen, S., & Schoemaker, M. (2018). Age-related validity and reliability of the Dutch Little Developmental Coordination Disorder Questionnaire (LDCDQ-NL). Research in Developmental Disabilities. doi: 10.1016/j.ridd.2018.02.010

Pediatric Exercise & Health Psychology

Meissner, M., Cantell, M. H., Steiner, R., & Sanchez, X. (2016). Evaluating emotional well-being after a short-term traditional yoga practice approach in yoga practitioners with an existing Western-type yoga practice. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2016. Open access:

Cantell, M., Crawford, S., & Dewey, D. (2013). Daily physical activity in young children and their parents: A descriptive study. Pediatric Child Health, 17(3), e20-24. Open access:

Cantell, M., Crawford, S., & Doyle-Baker, P.K. (2008). Physical fitness and health indices in children, adolescents and adults with high or low motor competence. Human Movement Science, 27, 344-362.

Dance Movement Therapy

Samaritter, R., & Cantell, M. (2020). Wording the complexity of dance movement therapy: A scoping review on how dance movement therapists describe their clinical practice. In H. Wengrower & S. Chaiklin (Eds.), Dance and creativity within dance movement therapy (pp. 111-123. New York & London: Routledge.

Ylonen, M., & Cantell, M. (2009). Kinesthetic narratives: Interpretations for children's dance therapy process. Body, Movement and Dance in Psychotherapy, 4(3), 1-16.

Cantell, M., & McGehee, D. (2006). Movement quality in children with developmental delay: midline and weight sensing as markers of adaptive movement development. Body, Movement and Dance in Psychotherapy, 1(2), 129-141.


Effortti, Journal of the Finnish Dance Therapy Association can be accessed via:

Cantell, M. (2014). Runoja, Effortti, 8 (1), 39-41.

Cantell, M. (2011). Maailman varjo [The world umbrella]. Effortti, Journal, 5 (1), 24.

Cantell, M. (2010). Witnessing the Unknown Unfold. Effortti, 4(1), 12.

Cantell, M. (2008). Lähtijän ja palaajan aatoksia [Cycle of leaving and returning]. Effortti,2, 5-8.

Cantell, M. (2002). Golden energy. Moving Journal, 9(1), 8.

See excerpts in the section called Some embodied thoughts"

Venice, Italy

Please feel free to contact me for a full CV and (electronic) copies of my articles and writings. This can be done with a contact form at the "Events and contact info" section.


Authentic Movement


Ashtanga and Aerial Yoga

Hiking & Cycling

X-country skiing & Downhill skiing

Paddling & Rowing




Moraine Lake. AB

Related Links

Syntonics® and The Professional Guild and Masterclass of

Franklin Methode:

Physical activity and mental health:;

American Dance Therapy Association:

Association of Dance Movement Therapy, UK:

Federatie Vaktherarapeutische Beroepen, NL:

Suomen tanssiterapia yhdistys/Dance Therapy Association, Finland:

Tanssiterapiaa Jyväskylässä:

Tanssi- ja musiikkiterapiaa Lahdessa:

Roehampton University, Dance Movement Therapy:


The School for Body-Mind Centering:

Contact Improvisation:

Prairie Institute of Expressive Arts Therapy in Calgary:

Sensory Awareness Foundation:

Developmental movement, Sherborne International:

European Forum of Psychomotricity:

Calgary Jung Society:

Gabrielle Roth 5 Rhythms:

MoMo Mixed Ability Dance Theatre:

Danceability International:

Amici Dance Theatre Company:

Hospice Calgary:

Mindsight Institute:

Mindful Awareness Research Center (MARC):

Developmental Coordination Disorder:

Society for Arts in Healthcare:

Naramata. BC

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