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

Kristy Combs


Dance therapy, Developmental disabilities, Empathy, Movement therapy


The purpose of this program development project was to assess how Rena Kornblum’s (2002) activities from Disarming the Playground: Violence prevention through movement and pro-social skills could be adapted for adults with developmental disabilities (DD), resulting in a Dance/Movement Therapy (DMT) treatment program focusing on empathy. The project set out to answer the following question: How can Rena Kornblum’s activities from Disarming the Playground be adapted for adults with DD, resulting in the development of a DMT treatment program? The program development cycle created by Rossman and Elwood Schlatter (2008) with formative evaluation was used in the development of Exploring Empathy. The question that guided the development of Exploring Empathy was: How can a DMT treatment program, based on the needs of adults with DD, support the emotional intelligence (EI) of adults with DD by developing competencies in the area of empathy? This program was implemented in a vocational day program for adults with DD. Structured program journals were kept, and two semi-structured interviews were held with the director of the program. Inductive theme analysis was used to draw themes from the journals and interviews. Themes that were drawn from the inductive theme analysis were used to evaluate and improve Exploring Empathy. Further adjustments and amendments were made to Exploring Empathy based on these themes, resulting in an enhanced movement-based program for adults with DD.