Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

PHD - Doctor of Philosophy


Expressive Therapies


The author investigated the experience of embodied dreamwork. Participants were eight Puerto Rican women who were chronically ill, of low socioeconomic status, who lived in Boston. The data were analyzed using transcendental phenomenology. Each participant engaged in one embodied dreamwork–unstructured interview session lasting approximately 1.5 hours. In addition, each participant drew a picture of how she felt after the dreamwork interview. This snowball, purposive sample gave detailed information about how they experienced embodied dreamwork. The participants’ statements were grouped into themes: (a) sense of place—environment, surroundings, spatiality; (b) the players—self, others; (c) plot; (d) in the sea of emotions—naming affective states; (e) the body speaks—somatic experience; (f) complexity—multiple affective states; (g) making meaning (atando cabos); (h) visual expressions; (i) self disclosures—desahogo (unburdening); and (j) cultural beliefs—de allá para acá (from there to here). As an expressive therapy, embodied dreamwork is grounded in the mind-body connection. This connection supports the making of meaning from the dreamwork. By being more aware of ambiguities, embodied dreamwork facilitates being less reactive to external cues. Embodied dreamwork may have applications in the treatment of anxiety, depression, bereavement, and trauma. The significance of this research contributes to the fields of psychology, Latino studies, and expressive arts therapies with chronically ill women. By including ethnic-specific studies, this investigation contributes to culturally sensitive mental health care. The study is limited to the experience of the participants and may not represent other Puerto Rican women of low socioeconomic status who are chronically ill.



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