Date of Award

Summer 8-4-2017

Document Type


Degree Name

PHD - Doctor of Philosophy


Expressive Therapies

First Advisor

Robyn Cruz

Second Advisor

Julia Byers

Third Advisor

Sharon Dekel


This study examines the Dyad Bonding Dance (DBD), a dance movement group therapy model developed to improve nonverbal communication between mothers exposed to stressful life situations and their children. The research emphasizes the importance of mother-child attachment relationships and transmission of stress from parents to children via nonverbal communication, which may affect bonding and child health. This qualitative study assessed the experience of dance movement therapists using this novel model. Broad research questions addressed were: (1) What are dance therapists’ experiences with the DBD model, focusing on its impact or lack of impact in improving the dyadic relationship between mother and child and reducing their stress levels? (2) Which aspects of this model work well and which should be changed or improved?

Four dance movement therapists participated in this study (three in group therapy and one in individual therapy). All attended a DBD training seminar and then each independently led an eight-session intervention using the DBD model. Participants completed questionnaires after the first and last sessions regarding the appropriateness of the mothers’ nonverbal behavior with their children and discussed the model in semistructured interviews. This study incorporated a constructive approach to analyze the data.

Four emergent themes emerged: Structure; Influence on the mothers, children, and their relationships; Therapist’s role; and Value of the DBD model in group therapy. Participant responses suggest all the structure was effective overall. It positively influenced the mothers and children individually, as well their relationships, developing mutuality and intimacy, better bonding, happiness in the relationship, and quality time. Participants saw value in the therapist roles, such as observer, mirror, and empathic reflection, during the model. They also noted the DBD model encouraged mothers to create better nonverbal communication with their children. Further, the participants who led the DBD model as a group therapy mentioned its value in providing mothers a way to be with other mothers in situations similar to their own.



Number of Pages


Included in

Art Therapy Commons




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