Thesis Title

Dance Movement and Narrative Art Therapy for Adolescent Girls: A Combined Treatment Approach

Graduation Date

Spring 2013

Document Type

Master's Thesis

Document Form


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy

Degree Granting Institution

Notre Dame de Namur University

Program Name

Art Therapy


John Lemmon, PhD

First Reader

Amy Backos, PhD, ATR-BC

Second Reader

David Sitzer, PhD


The ensuing research paper is a grant proposal designed to serve young women in a culturally appropriate manner by utilizing Afro-Brazilian dance and art therapy together through a narrative theoretical approach. This grant proposal requests funding for a study where adolescent girls can engage in dance movement followed by art therapy. Age appropriate narrative theoretically-based art directives will be utilized as a way to process both movement and feelings around dance, social interaction among peers, body awareness, self-esteem, and resiliency factors. Current literature and complex cultural interactions are documented as reasons to support this program with underserved adolescent girls in the Mission District of San Francisco. This research reviews the historical significance of dance movement and art therapy in populations and cultures pre­dating scientific times. Research articles highlight findings of positive outcomes in participants who experienced some form of these modalities of treatment for both mental and physical health. A strength based community project utilizing these concepts is included, written after having reviewed historical and current literature, which supports the view that all three forms of healing can be utilized together to create a positive alliance between therapist and participants while promoting an optimal environment for therapeutic and movement interventions in culturally diverse populations.