Date of Award

Spring 5-21-2022

Document Type


Degree Name

PHD - Doctor of Philosophy


Expressive Therapies

First Advisor

Dr. Mitchell Kossak

Second Advisor

Dr. Nancy Beardall

Third Advisor

Dr. Sherry W. Goodill


Dance/movement therapy (DMT) research historically, has relied on positivist epistemologies and methodologies when most of what gets communicated and transacted in clinical praxis lives in the tacit domain. Dance is a form of cultural knowledge that engages collective cognition to pass practices down through generations. Knowledge of DMT practices continues to be transferred from its founders to their apprentices to current day students. This study focuses on the Marian Chace approach, whose ideas and techniques continue to shape current DMT praxis. Grounded in ideas of enaction, distributed creativity, and emergence this study utilizes collaborative arts-based research and embodied artistic inquiry to ask the research question, what are the tacit kinesthetic healing factors in Chacian DMT?

Nine dance/movement therapists from across the United States participated as co-researchers over Zoom tele-conferencing, from March to May 2021, using dance, video capture, choreography, and video editing to transfer expert, embodied, tacit knowledge into explicit, lexical, knowledge. Each participated in a series of three focus groups in which they were asked to create, video record, and share movements representing the healing processes within their Chacian groups. The lead researcher created choreography from these movements, qualitatively analyzed the transcribed focus group interviews, then incorporated these lexical representations into the choreography. She then brought the choreography and list of healing factors found to the co-researchers for validation.

Results are captured in a 9-minute edited dance video and in a list of 24 healing factors: four that are common to verbal psychotherapy; 13 that are widely discussed in DMT literature; and seven that reside mainly in the tacit domain. The seven are: Modulating Tempo, Building and Releasing Tension, Actively Using Breath, Connecting and Being Seen, Accepting Chaos, Transforming, and Creating States of Grace. Findings provide validation of Schmais’ (1985) healing factors in group DMT, Koch’s (2017) meta-theory of embodied aesthetics, Lauffenburger’s (2020) unique factors in DMT, and deWitte et al.’s (2021) mechanisms of change. The researcher concludes that flow and grace are interrelated and that one factor, Creating States of Grace, can potentially be used as a composite indicator of overall healing efficacy of DMT groups.


link for video featuring the choreographic findings

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
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