Date of Award

Spring 5-18-2024

Document Type


Degree Name

MA - Master of Arts


Expressive Therapies


Wendy Allen, PhD, LPC, BC-DMT


Haitian individuals and families constitute a large portion of the recently arrived migrants in Massachusetts. As the State struggles to respond to the logistics of the migration crisis, migrants are grappling with the mental health sequelae of their long and traumatic journeys: post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, and somatic symptoms are the top diagnoses among this population. Offering mental health services requires culturally-centered and trauma-informed methods that can respond to the needs of this population. Dance/movement therapy is an expressive modality that can be rooted in the rich cultural symbols and practices of the migrants to support them as they externalize and process their trauma on a non-verbal level. Through a creative movement session with Haitian migrants in the greater Boston area, this community engagement project explores the application of an adapted dance/movement therapy group structure, the five-part model, to fit the needs of this specific population. Despite the challenges to gather a group of migrants, the author was able to provide a supportive and relatively safe space where migrants explored movements that settled and mobilized their bodies and where they found relief and release in sharing some of their migration-related trauma. There is a high need for both research and application of dance/movement therapy with Haitian migrants, specifically, as this modality aligns with Haitians’ cosmology, resilience, and overall ways of knowing and being.

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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