Date of Award

Spring 5-5-2020

Document Type


Degree Name

MA - Master of Arts


Expressive Therapies


Tamar Hadar, PhD, MT-BC


This thesis explores the potential role of play and playfulness in dance movement therapy (DMT) for the treatment of complex post-traumatic stress disorder (CPTSD), which results from exposure to complex trauma. As its name suggests, CPTSD symptoms can be more severe than that of PTSD, and the prevalence of CPTSD is estimated at 3.8% of the U.S. population (Cloitre et al., 2019). Given these factors, this mental health issue warrants further research and treatment support. Towards this end, a critical review of the literature on the topics of complex trauma/CPTSD, play, and DMT has been conducted. Based on a synthesis of the findings, the benefits of integrating play and DMT for CPTSD treatment are presented, and initial recommendations for how to integrate the therapeutic use of play with a phased model of DMT are made. Specifically, play offers the potential for the transformation of self and promotes increased adaptability, both of which complement DMT as an embodied modality. Together, DMT and play are well suited to tackle the core issues of CPTSD.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
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