Date of Award

Spring 5-23-2023

Document Type


Degree Name

MA - Master of Arts


Expressive Therapies


Dr. Kelvin A. Ramirez


The following literature review investigates the role of sociocultural factors of dance/movement therapy (DMT) and the mental health of people of African descent, specifically African Americans. Sociocultural aspects of DMT are critically examined, and mental health conditions prevalent amongst African Americans are explored through a culture-specific lens. The combination of therapeutic approaches and theoretical frameworks like critical race theory and relational-cultural therapy are valuable and necessary to consider as they can more precisely underscore the importance of generational trauma and racialized oppression within the psychological distress of African Americans. This literature review presents a brief history and evolution of dance/movement therapy (DMT), plus a critical analysis of its capacity for working with African Americans. Psychologies, vernacular dances, and therapeutic movement practices that are culturally associated with African American communities are considered alongside DMT in terms of theoretical orientation and clinical applications. Specifically, decolonizing psychologies, and traditional and contemporary Black/African-derived dance forms are highlighted as potential foundations for therapeutic approaches and practices that can directly attend to or remedy race-based issues that have historically been overlooked by or unincluded in the mainstream psychotherapy field. While the core of this capstone thesis emphasizes the need for evolving psychotherapy theories and interventions to offer African Americans more expansive outlets for restoration and increased total well-being, the development of biopsychosocial interventions for all racial groups is noted as essential for advancing therapeutic fields toward social justice, improving cultural relations, and ameliorating culturally-oppressive political systems in America and abroad.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.




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