Dance Movement Therapy and Sensory Integration, by Sarah Cleary
This time last year Sarah and I were probably still celebrating the completion of her master's thesis. A week ago someone on the American Dance Therapy Association mailing list asked for information about published work on dance therapy and sensory integration disorder. So far twenty-one other people have expressed interest in her thesis. I'm so proud!
This thesis addresses a therapeutic approach to working with children in dance movement therapy settings. During these sessions, the dance therapists were asked to incorporate sensory integration techniques within dance therapy sessions. The research question asked: how does increased awareness and utilization of occupational therapy-based interventions with elementary aged children exhibiting possible sensory integration symptoms effect dance therapists reported effectiveness of dance therapy sessions?
The author of this thesis created a manual to be utilized by a dance therapist in her sessions with elementary aged children who display symptoms of sensory integration disorder. The dance therapist was asked to apply movement interventions designed to address both sensory integration issues and body-based psychotherapy concerns. The subject filled out a pre-study questionnaire and journalled after each session. Her post-study interview was tape recorded and analyzed afterward to find general themes of her reported experience working with the manual.
The results of this case study indicated that utilizing sensory integration techniques in conjunction with dance therapy can facilitate beneficial changes in behavior, which in turn can support accomplishment of therapeutic goals.