Date of Award

Spring 5-5-2020

Document Type


Degree Name

MA - Master of Arts


Expressive Therapies


Michelle Napoli


The co-leadership model is an unseen thread in the current picture of the field of dance movement therapy (DMT). Even if it’s deeply rooted in the development of the field, its significance for the current context of culture-informed and evidence-based practice is still under-investigated. This thesis sheds light on the importance of co-leadership in DMT through a historical review of the development of the field, the rationale of using co-leadership in DMT from neuroscientific, psychological and practical perspectives, and a synthesis of empirical studies on effectiveness of co-leadership in DMT. Co-leadership is a tradition in the field of DMT which prospered when second-generation therapists inherited the work from founders of the field. However, the tradition is vanishing as a single narrative unconsciously dominated the field. In this historic lens, the use of co-leadership is a method to honor the tradition and embrace multiculturalism in the field. Studies in neuroscience and psychology provide theoretical frameworks of how co-leadership strengthens the healing factors in DMT. The co-leadership model also solves practical issues that are commonly faced in DMT sessions. The art-based synthesis of empirical studies showed that the co-leadership model enhances the effectiveness of DMT in terms of providing a holding environment, developing meaningful interventions, and facilitating shared insights. The current thesis serves to advocate for more studies on the usage of co-leadership in the field of DMT.

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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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