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

Laura Allen


embodied artistic study, dance movement therapy, grief, professional identity, Elisabth Kubler-Ross


The purpose of this embodied artistic inquiry self-study was to investigate the role and felt-experience of grief during the process of professional identity loss. The use of this particular methodology offered the researcher an opportunity to use movement as the means towards both collecting and analyzing data so that the relationship between grief and identity transition could be sensed physically. Data was collected with a research consultant during six sessions of movement improvisations inspired by each of Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’ (1969) five stages of grief. The researcher and research consultant met six times as a result of their decision to include an additional session during which the fifth stage of grief could be more fully analyzed. The movement improvisations were discussed and journaled about, after which the data was analyzed through the creation of a movement sentence containing one short, repeatable movement extracted from each of the five improvisations. As a result of the research themes of outward-ness, breath, modulation, ambiguity, vocalization, recuperation, faith and trust, a sense of purposelessness, an entire tapestry, and the image of an hourglass were found with regard to how the researcher connected feelings of grief with professional identity loss. The researcher ultimately recognized that the experience of professional identity loss can have even greater, more all-encompassing implications around identity loss as a whole. Through viscerally navigating Kübler-Ross’ (1969) five stages of grief, the researcher was able to fully and intentionally grieve the loss of certain parts of herself while also discovering other, more hidden parts that she can integrate into her newer identities (professionally, and also personally) which are still developing. 75 pages.