Creative Arts Therapies Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Art in Dance/Movement Therapy and Counseling (MA)


Creative Arts Therapies

First Advisor

Susan Imus

Second Advisor

Laura Downey

Third Advisor

Jessica Young


clinical study, dance/movement therapy, autism spectrum disorder, intellectual disability, self-regulation, mirroring


This clinical case study explores my understanding of self-regulation and the impact it had on my clinical decision-making while in dance/movement therapy (DMT) sessions with a client diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and intellectual disability (ID). I was motivated by the interactions I had at my internship while working with this client. For the purpose of this study, I chose the theoretical lens of Daniel Siegel’s theory of self-regulation. Self-regulation is a process that organizes the mind and the body in space (Siegel, 2015). Currently, there is research on working with self-regulation and adults with ASD and ID, but there is limited research specifically using DMT as the means of facilitating and aiding in the self-regulation process. 67 pages. The primary question guiding my case study was: how does my understanding of self-regulation influence my clinical choices in DMT sessions with a client who has co-occurring diagnoses of ASD and ID? Through charting my clinical decision-making process, my DMT interventions, and client responses, I synthesized data through highlighting patterns and themes related to self-regulation. I observed patterns of mirroring and attuning with this client to successfully aid in the self-regulation process. My clinical choices involved rhythmic awareness and exaggeration of breath. In the self-regulation process, my clinical choices helped this client to organize his body and to regulate, control, and calm his movements and vocalizations.