Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

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


Creative Arts Therapies

First Advisor

Imus, Susan

Second Advisor

Downey, Laura

Third Advisor

Larsen, Kris


dance/movement therapy, medicine, spirituality, mind-body, physician, cognitive control, empathy, care, healing


The purpose of this study was to explore and analyze the experience of spirituality for students of Western medicine as reflected in writing assignments for an elective course on embodiment and empathy building skills. Questions included: What is the relationship between embodiment and spirituality for students of Western medicine? How does (re-)embodiment lead to reflections on spirituality? Does mind-body awareness lead to mind-body-spirit awareness? How can incorporation of embodiment techniques into physician training foster spirituality as it relates to physicians’ professional healing roles? Based in a constructivist paradigm, this study used a qualitative grounded theory methodology to generate theory about the relationship between spirituality and embodiment for students of Western medicine. This study used pre-existing archived data in the form of academically assigned reflection papers written by students at a prominent medical school in Chicago, Illinois. Data were analyzed using Chesler’s sequential analysis method. Results suggested that decreased cognitive control, aided through experiential learning, allows for increased awareness of the relationship between the self and other, including the non-verbal expression of empathy and spirituality. Results suggested this can be applied to Western medicine to enhance the therapeutic doctor-patient relationship and lead to more effective care and healing. 47 pages.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.