Hancock Center For Creative Arts Therapies - History
Hancock Center History


Deborah Thomas


Hancock Center was created by Deborah Thomas in 1983 to promote the informed and effective use of dance/movement therapy in the Midwest. Deborah had been an instructor in the undergraduate dance/movement therapy program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. When that program closed, Debby started the Hancock Center in the building that houses it today. Her intention was to create the non-profit as a five year experiment to see if the community would indicate a need for these services.

More than thirty years later, Hancock Center grew to include ten staff members, many volunteers, and an internship position. The atmosphere Deborah created at Hancock Center encouraged staff therapists to develop creative outreach in directions that were of interest to them and which responded to community need.

This atmosphere resulted in therapists creating exciting programs working with a wide variety of populations and forming many solid connections within Madison and Dane County. Hancock Center receives support from its community through grants, donations and collaborations. Hancock Center is also known in the national and international dance/movement therapy communities as a model organization.

In 2020, the Hancock Center team began a deliberative process examining its path and focus. Building upon the organization's many assets, the Board of Directors voted in 2022 to expand the focus of Hancock Center from dance/movement therapy to the full range of creative arts therapies. The organization is now fully engaged in transforming how it serves the community while building a broader community among creative arts therapists.