Date of Award

Spring 3-15-2019

Document Type


Degree Name

PHD - Doctor of Philosophy


Expressive Therapies

First Advisor

Mitchell Kossak

Second Advisor

Robyn Cruz

Third Advisor

Ronit Barash Kishon


This dissertation research explored the experience of partner dancing as a therapeutic process that reflects upon the dynamics and interactions of couples who are in the process of couple's therapy. The research also aimed to gain insight on the ways in which the experience of partner dancing can support these couples' therapeutic processes. Partner dancing is a dance-form that is based on the interaction between two individuals. Such interaction requires the dancing couples to communicate on many levels that may uncover layers of their relational dynamics. In this research, five couples who were undergoing couple's therapy were asked to participate in four weekly consecutive sessions. The structure of each session consisted of a partner dancing experience and a verbal reflection that related to the couple's dance experience and the ways in which they associated it with their relational dynamics. The qualitative data analysis process included analyzing the raw interview transcripts of the couple's sessions, the pre- and post-interviews that were done with the couples' therapists, and a triangulation process that was conducted by a board certified dance movement therapist. The thematic analysis aimed to detect recurrent themes including areas of similarities and differences in the way these themes manifested through the couples' experiences. The eight categories that emerged were fundamentally tied to couples' relational issues and included the aspects of communication, intimacy, synchronization, attunement, negotiating spaces, interpersonal dynamics, shifts in daily life, and the couples’ impressions of partner dancing as a couple's therapy format. Findings indicated that the couples' non-verbal overt physical dynamics allowed a meaningful process of reflection while unearthing their attitudes and actions that impacted their relational cycle. Thus, the overall experience acted as a field that operated on psychological and emotional levels, highlighting the couples' abilities and challenges to engage with each other on multiple levels, such as verbal, emotional, and physical. The conclusions indicated that the utilized structure of partner dancing combined with an elaborative reflective process could foster novel clinical practice in furthering couple's therapeutic processes and treatment plans, whether as a collaborative process, as adjunct, or as a main therapeutic practice method.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License



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