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Kinesthetic ability and the development of empathy in Dance Movement Therapy

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This study investigates the relationship between change in kinesthetic ability and the development of empathy in a group of Dance Movement Therapy (DMT) trainees. Art Therapy and Social Science students served as comparison groups. A field study was conducted using a quasi-experimental pre-post control group design. Participants were 62 graduate students. A standard self-report measure of empathy was used, and kinesthetic ability was evaluated using a table of movement dimensions based on Laban Movement Analysis (LMA). In addition, DMT participants were interviewed regarding perceived change in empathy and in movement ability. The results suggested an increase in kinesthetic ability among the DMT cohort. The self-report measure of empathy suggested no significant change in all groups, and yet, interviews of the DMT trainees showed an increase in empathy. Standardized empathy scores were correlated with increasing kinesthetic ability displayed in outward movement, echoing and sunken posture. The results suggest that empathy can be developed through training for the benefit of the emotional health of both patients and trainees.

Keywords: DMT; assessment; empathy; group; kinesthetic ability; training

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: University of Haifa

Publication date: 2011-08-22

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  • The Journal of Applied Arts and Health serves a wide community of artists, researchers, practitioners and policy-makers evidencing the effectiveness of the interdisciplinary use of arts in health and arts for health. It provides a forum for the publication and debate within an interdisciplinary field of arts in healthcare and health promotion. The journal defines 'health' broadly which includes physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, occupational, social and community health.
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