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

Young, Jessica


dance/movement therapy, grief, culture, social, disenfranchised grief, grief-related disorders.


This study employed a transcendental phenomenological methodology to understand how clients’ lived experiences of disenfranchised grief are present within the clinical therapeutic relationship in dance/movement therapy. Data was collected through individual semi-structured interviews from four dance/movement therapists who have worked with clients experiencing disenfranchised grief. Moustakas’ (1994) adaptation of the Stevick-Colaizzi-Keen method of data analysis was used concurrently with data collection. Data analysis resulted in four textural themes: a) Disenfranchised grief can be described as disconnecting, overwhelming, complex, unrecognized, and pervasive; b) It is distinguished by exacerbated grief; c) It is recognized as a distinct form of grief; and d) It involved consistencies in treatment goals and focus. Structural themes describe how disenfranchised was experienced: a) social/cultural factors, b) dance/movement therapy, c) heightened kinesthetic empathy and somatic countertransference, and d) the therapeutic movement relationship. These themes support the current literature and suggest that the experience of disenfranchised grief includes embodied effects. Furthermore, dance/movement therapy may assist with addressing these effects, restoring their right to grieve, and supporting them in their grieving process. 50 pages. This thesis was submitted as an article to the American Journal of Dance Therapy in August 2017, in a format that meets the criteria for that publication, so it is shorter than a standard thesis.

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.