Date of Award

Fall 9-15-2024

Document Type


Degree Name

MCM - MA Clinical Mental Health Counseling


Expressive Therapies


Dr. E Kellogg


Palo Dance is a Dominican folkloric, cultural, spiritual, and community dance, an essential piece of Dominican roots and their ancestral healing practices. Dominican Palo Dance healing qualities include a variety of Indigenous and diasporic approaches including chanting, rituals, and community healing. These methods not only have healing properties but also reflect deeply rooted cultural practices designed for holistic well-being. The research is grounded in my experiences growing up in Los Guaricanos de Villa Mella, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, a marginalized yet culturally rich community. Through participation in youth spiritual groups, community dances, and events, I developed a profound appreciation for the dance form and its ancestral healing practices. Understanding rituals as systems of meaning requires a deep dive into the symbols they comprise (Hernández Soto, 1996). The thesis draws on Dance and Movement Therapy (DMT) concepts inherent in Palo and builds off Mara’s Four Levels of Empowerment model, which recognizes the body-mind unity and therapeutic potential of expressive movement, specifically as it relates to rituals and daily practice. Further, it helped show the opportunities to utilize elements of Palo Dancing for community healing. The intended outcome of this community project was to establish Palo Dance as a recognized therapeutic practice, particularly within expressive therapies. By incorporating Palo Dance into the respite program, I aimed to contribute to DMT clinical practice by offering an innovative and culturally relevant therapeutic technique. Participant feedback indicated a positive response to the tools introduced, highlighting the effectiveness of community-based healing techniques.

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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