Date of Award

Spring 5-16-2020

Document Type


Degree Name

MA - Master of Arts


Expressive Therapies


Annette Whitehead-Pleaux, MA, MT-BC


Children diagnosed with cancer experience physical symptoms such as gastrointestinal distress, general illness, and pain-related symptoms as well as psychosocial symptoms such as emotions of sadness, anger, fear, isolation from family members, and self-esteem changes. A comprehensive understanding of these concerns and symptoms can develop a better means for communication and support of children and their families. Inspired by the potential for dance/movement therapy to decrease pain and anxiety and increase overall quality of life with the pediatric oncology population, the researcher explored the impact of dance movement therapy groups on 4-year-old pediatric oncology patients with varying cancer diagnoses. Weekly sixty-minute sessions took place with a heterogeneous group of at a suburban area pediatric children’s hospital, the Lehigh Valley Reilly Children’s Hospital. Two session plans focused on the goal of either decreasing pain or anxiety and increasing quality of life. The anxiety and coping skills session produced an observed shift from high energy in the form of loud rapid speech, fluid storylines, expansive and quick arm and leg movements to an observed calm energy in the form of deeper breathing, control over body and mind and clearer verbal communication. Due to the pandemic of Covid-19, information on pain management and dance/movement therapy could not be obtained. Suggestions for future studies include the use of dance/movement therapy during the cancer experience, with the pediatric oncology population focusing on predominant symptoms being experienced and how dance/movement therapy can be utilized to address the trauma that comes with a cancer diagnosis.

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




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