Date of Award

Spring 5-18-2024

Document Type


Degree Name

MA - Master of Arts


Expressive Therapies


Wendy Allen


This thesis introduces a novel Dance/Movement Therapy (DMT) approach, focusing on nervous system arousal regulation during transitions between therapy groups. The core of the method involves a brief 5-minute exercise designed to modulate arousal levels, encompassing alertness and energy, aiming to establish a baseline homeostasis. Rooted in Polyvagal Theory and Developmental Neurobiology, the approach assumes the co-regulation of nervous systems within a group therapeutic setting. Two primary outcomes are self-assessed: 1) somatic experiences documented through narratives and 2) nervous system biodata measured using the Flowtime headband monitoring of brainwaves, heart rate, and other biomarkers. Results indicated that all six sessions showed noticeable changes in embodied arousal before and after the DMT method. The author, in the role of facilitator for the DMT method, experienced a notable embodied and physiological transformation from lethargy and anxiety to a state of increased grounding and regulation. Both measured biomarkers and observed body/movement interoceptive cues were consistent, indicating regulation of arousal and attunement to the group, particularly evident in Session 5, which featured a larger group size. Consequently, the author proposes that the mind-body shifts observed during group engagement are not solely due to the accessible short bilateral movement game, but also to the number of participants receptive to the method. The ability of embodied co-regulation, as outlined in relevant literature, is contingent upon the individuals involved in the method. Participants who witnessed and actively engaged demonstrated a willingness to share space through movement, influencing the rhythm, attunement, and overall embodied and physiological experience of the facilitator. This method is specifically designed for group settings, and as suggested in this study, the quantity and quality of participants present significantly shape the regulatory experience of everyone involved.

The method developed aims to gain a deeper understanding of individual nervous system responses when engaging in co-regulation, in this case as the leading therapist, to then provide a more phase-based tailored approach to assist clients in transitioning between groups and schedules especially those at sites like Partial Hospitalization Programs. This research contributes to the evolving landscape of DMT practices, highlighting the importance of phase/transition-based movement intervention as well as biodata measurement and personal narratives as valuable tools for refining therapeutic interventions.

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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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