Date of Award

Spring 5-21-2022

Document Type


Degree Name

MA - Master of Arts


Expressive Therapies


Robyn Cruz


For children, the global COVID-19 pandemic can result in less socialization, changing family dynamics, and hearing of or experiencing death around them. These changes may cause adverse effects on their development, economic status, and mental health. Posttraumatic growth can help children develop new pathways of understanding themselves, their world, and relationships with others. Expressive arts therapies (EAT) offer an alternative, creative way to attract and help heal children. Dance/movement therapy (DMT) is an established alternative treatment for mental health. As a form of therapeutics for traumatic events, DMT uses the mind–body connection to express emotions, thoughts, and dreams and produce healing. Based on the literature review results, the author created arts/movement-based method interventions to help children identify and regulate their feelings throughout the pandemic. This method integrates mindfulness body scans, EAT, and DMT in a progressive painted/moving mural of feelings. It was presented to three fourth-grade integrated (with and without special education needs) classrooms (63 children aged 9 and 10 years). Through the lens of the Kestenberg Movement Profile tension flow rhythms, I observed participants in movement and painting, journaled and moved in response. Participants displayed sway, twist, strain/release, and running/drifting rhythms, consistent with traits of nurturing, adaptability, persistence, and being in the moment. These observations support the importance of treating trauma, holistic healing, body/movement, expressive arts, and emotional identification. The intervention can be applied once or in a series, in school or therapeutic settings, to help children grow from potential traumas of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Keywords: posttraumatic growth, expressive therapies, dance/movement therapy, COVID-19

Author Identity Statement: The author identifies as a straight, white, Christian woman from New England.

Creative Commons License

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




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