Date of Award

Spring 5-18-2024

Document Type


Degree Name

MA - Master of Arts


Expressive Therapies


Meg H Chang, EdD, BC-DMT


There is a gap in the literature regarding treatment of pediatric Functional Neurological Symptom Disorder (FNSD) with Dance Movement Therapy (DMT). Functional neurological symptom disorder (FNSD) is a mental illness in which the affected individual experiences somatic symptoms in response to atypical nervous system activation. Dance movement therapy incorporates embodied experiences and physical movement in collaboration with emotional and psychological expression and processing. FNSD symptoms occur when the person’s symptoms are poorly integrated (Weiss et al., 2021) and is best treated through a variety of multidisciplinary treatments supporting all aspects of the client (Kim et al., 2022). Treatment often incorporates physical therapy and psychotherapy (Ali et al., 2015) as well as work with the child’s family and school personnel to limit attention to symptoms and expectations of functioning despite symptoms (Kozlowska et al., 2023). DMT prioritizes nonverbal communication, awareness of one’s body and internal sensations (Lauffenburger, 2020), and helps to facilitate mind-body integration (Shim et al., 2019). Following the review of literature, this thesis recommends specific DMT techniques to support FNSD treatment including body scans, mirroring, embodied imagery, and movement narrativization, and recommends areas for additional research.

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