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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1860/3110

Title: Dance/Movement Therapy Support for Children Who Have Witnessed Domestic Violence: Therapist Perspectives
Authors: Sorrento, Amy Elizabeth
Keywords: Dance Therapy;Domestic Violence;Children
Issue Date: 15-Sep-2009
Abstract: As one in every four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime and an estimated 1.3 million women are victims of physical assault by an intimate partner each year (National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 2008), it is important to consider the effects of the violence not only on the victim, but also the unforeseen victims who witness these acts of violence: children. As witnessing violence between one’s parents or caretakers is the strongest risk factor of transmitting violent behavior from one generation to the next (National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 2008), it is important to examine the traumatic effects and therapeutic support for children who have witnessed this trauma. The overall purpose of this survey study is to describe how dance/movement therapists who work with children who have witnessed domestic violence perceive, observe, and understand the issues of these children, the dance/movement therapy process and methods the therapists use to provide therapeutic support. The study employed a survey design in which the researcher interviewed four dance/movement therapists who currently work with children who have witnessed domestic violence. The in-person, audio-recorded interviews were 50 minutes in length and included questions related to common themes as well as characteristic movement patterns observed in the children, structure of the sessions, nature of the therapeutic movement relationship and countertransference. The interview text served as data for the analysis. The common themes that emerged from the observations of the children were aggregated into the three targeted arenas of the research question: movement patterns, methods/techniques, and therapeutic movement relationship. Common themes related to movement patterns were use of Strong Weight , use of Suddenness, lack of coordination, hyperactivity, dissociation and shallow breathing. Commonalities in the techniques implemented by the therapists include instilling boundaries, providing clear structure, working in the here and now, removing obstacles to treatment, and working on gross motor skills. Commonalities in responses for the therapeutic movement relationship are that the relationship is key, the therapist serves as ego strength, and the management of countertransference, along with how impactive and powerful this is. The three emerging themes of the interviews are safety, boundaries, and management of countertransference. These themes are guiding principles for interventions made by the therapist. These themes may be of more importance than the three arenas targeted in the research question. This thesis has provided an opportunity to further investigate the clinical understanding of dance/movement therapists and their work with children who have witnessed domestic violence. The findings of this study conclude that therapists perceive dance/movement therapy to be a supportive and important form of treatment for children who have witnessed domestic violence. The data collected in this study from the interviews will enhance understanding about children who have witnessed domestic violence and dance/movement therapy support for these children.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1860/3110
Appears in Collections:Health Sciences Theses and Dissertations

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