Creative Arts Therapies Theses


Anson Relick

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

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


Creative Arts Therapies

First Advisor

Kristy Combs


Aggressiveness in children, Dance therapy, Movement therapy


The purpose of this research study was to understand what I could learn from my body as I experienced movements based on the observation of children’s aggression. There were several research questions that guided this study: how could the embodiment of aggression prepare me in my journey of becoming a dance/movement therapist? What would develop for me on a body level when I embodied movement qualities I associated with aggression? How could I gain a greater sense of empathy for my patients who act out aggressively? And are there recuperative or preventative measures I could help my patients take, based on my learned body knowledge? The methodology was artistic inquiry, which guided the study and supported my creative process. The research was focused on myself and I modeled my embodiment of aggression after the behavior of patients age 3-12 in a behavioral health hospital. The data was collected using video and journaling, and was analyzed through movement exploration, dance making, and creative synthesis. Embodiment provided an opportunity for a deeper understanding into the children’s impulsive behavior and difficulty with recuperation. Concluding the research, I found based on the embodiment of movement qualities associated with childhood aggression, and my subsequent empathy for these children, I was able to develop new insights regarding intervention in order to help this particular population. In addition, I found my body’s ability to regulate while experiencing the aggressive movements contributed to my ability to regulate while witnessing these movements. I feel these insights are transferrable to other populations dealing with aggression or experiencing crisis, which will contribute to my development as a dance/movement therapist. The project culminated in a dance performance of the experience and conveyed the results of the research.