Date of Award

Spring 5-16-2020

Document Type


Degree Name

MA - Master of Arts


Expressive Therapies


Michelle Napoli


This capstone thesis illuminates the far-reaching impact of intergenerational trauma on the sense of self, and the implications for dance/movement therapy in healing from intergenerational trauma. Intergenerational trauma (otherwise known as transgenerational trauma, historical trauma, and cultural trauma) is trauma that is passed down from generation to generation. Future generations experience their ancestors’ traumatic experiences as if it were their own, hijacking their sense of self and identity. Sense of self will be defined as feeling secure in who you are—sense of identity, personality, family background, aspirations, and semblance of having control in your life. Intergenerational trauma presents unique challenges namely because of its multilayered consequences: silencing of narrative, destruction of community and cultural values, and the alteration of genetic make-up (epigenetics). Intergenerational trauma is embodied trauma. The body holds these transgressions the mind has unconsciously blocked out, leaving future generations with the loss of understanding why this trauma lives inside them. Dance/movement therapy focuses on integrating the mind and body into cohesion through a range of dance and movement opportunities, allowing the participant to weave back together their narrative and safely acknowledge the trauma that has been passed down to them while promoting a sense of healing.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.




The author owns the copyright to this work.