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

Meg Chang


Expressive Arts Therapy, Laban Movement Analysis


This theoretical comparison of dance/movement therapy (DMT) and expressive arts therapy (EXA) was created in order to better understand the major principles and concepts behind each field. A brief history of the predecessors of each field was discussed, along with five principles from DMT and five concepts from EXA, as chosen by the writer and based on her preferences in alignment with her personal theory and methodology. The comparison that follows discussed the ways in which both fields converge, diverge, and complement one another. The fields have many points of agreement where there is only subtle difference in language, but differ mainly in two ways. Where DMT has a dance/movement focus, EXA uses multiple art forms in combination for therapeutic use. Though the DMT field might use multiple modalities, the use of many forms is not stated as a foundational principle. DMT places a strong emphasis on the use of the Laban Movement Analysis (LMA) assessment tool, and where EXA might use Laban language, the field does not focus on analytic systems. As a result of reading the literature and participating in training programs in both fields, I feel that DMT could be considered the left-brain compliment to the EXA right brain. This is not to say that each field is not complimentary within itself, but with the body at its base, the DMT field has scientific leanings (consider neuroscience for example) where research is concerned. The EXA field places a high value on the body as well, but focuses more on client process as observed through the art artifact as a matter of research. Applications of my own work with a blended system including both DMT and EXA in the hospital setting were discussed, and were also viewed through an ethical lens where implications of scope of practice were concerned.