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

Imus, Susan

Second Advisor

Downey, Laura

Third Advisor

Malling, Sondra


dance/movement therapy, heuristic, presence, elderly, dementia, countertransference, somatic countertrasference, therapeutic presence.


The goal of this heuristic research study was to further explore the concept of presence within the dance/movement therapist, and how presence could be accessed within the practice of dance/movement therapy. Specifically, how I the researcher, can efficiently utilize presence within myself as a vehicle for therapeutic change while working with an elderly population experiencing dementia. Guided by heuristic and intuitive inquiry methodologies, my personal experience of presence was observed and analyzed. Data collection took place over a three month period consisting of structured journaling, embodied movement responses, and spontaneous artmaking in relation to dance/movement therapy sessions. Findings suggested that bodily sensations, environmental elements, relational dynamics, specific processes, and cognitive beliefs were all factors related to the discovery, loss, or maintenance of presence within myself as a clinician. These implications indicated that presence was most effective when emerging from an intuitively mindful place of here and now during a dance/movement therapy session. The personal discoveries made during this investigation of presence within myself as an emerging dance/movement therapist culminated into an active creative synthesis titled The Dance of Here and Now: An Installation. These findings, as well as the implications on previous research and the field of dance/movement therapy were discussed at length. Future research questions to further the depth of this topic were also presented. 125 pages.