Date of Award

Spring 5-20-2023

Document Type


Degree Name

MA - Master of Arts


Expressive Therapies


Meg Chang


This literature review focuses on how dance/movement therapy can be beneficial for adult survivors of adverse childhood experiences. The long-term effects of adverse childhood experiences have recently gained attention after a study in 1998 had profound results. Adverse childhood experiences have long-lasting results that continue into adulthood and the more adverse childhood experiences an individual has the more risk they are at for developing psychological and medical diagnoses later in life. Trauma impairs the brain’s functioning and structure, and it takes multiple positive experiences to rewire the brain. Unhealed adverse childhood experiences can lead to impaired relationships with offspring and can also become embedded in DNA leading to intergenerational trauma. Trauma not only impairs the brain’s functioning but also gets stored in the body. Utilizing a bottom-up approach that starts with first addressing the body has been shown to be useful for PTSD survivors. Dance/movement therapy is a bottom-up approach that can address trauma on a verbal and non-verbal level. Dance/movement therapy focuses on relationships and safety to lower risk of re-traumatization. The findings of this literature review reveal that through dance/movement therapy interventions like mirroring and the use of touch, adults with trauma can learn to feel safe and comfortable in their bodies and release the trauma from their bodies without re-traumatization.

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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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