Editors’ Note

  • Susan Kierr
  • Laura DowneyEmail author

To our readers,

It is clear that you share our commitment to social justice and from this comes the energy that produced this issue.

Dance/movement therapy theory, research and practice have guided us through our studies, our professional work, and often our personal lives. What we learn in our professional practice enhances how we see and feel and relate to the people in our lives, our partners, friends and families. Because of what we do professionally, our relationships and our community appear to us in a perspective unique to the interface of body and mind.

In this issue we recognize that our work propels us to reach for world-wide and at-home social change, in addition to individual change. We celebrate this commitment to using our skills beyond our individual practices. This leads us to want to know how, when and where our colleagues have been using dance/movement therapy to address issues of social justice as well as living social justice practice through their dance/movement therapy practice.

The issue begins with two presentations from the 2018 American Dance Therapy Association conference held in Salt Lake City, Utah. The Multicultural and Diversity Committee’s Keynote Panel, facilitated by Angela M. Grayson, Lindsay Howard, Rosey Puloka and Stefanie Belnavis, is included in this issue for the historical, education, and theory and practice perspectives on power and privilege within the American Dance Therapy Association. The presenters’ thoughtful, engaging and provoking presentation format, style and insights provide a benchmark for the work toward justice in our own organization. The remaining articles in this special topics issue beautifully illustrate the historical, educational as well as theory and practice applications of social justice and social justice related work in community and clinical settings. Christine Caldwell’s Marian Chace Foundation lecture further challenges our conceptualizations of the body, moving bodies and internalized stigmas in our work with the body and movement in therapy. We thank the authors as well as the Marian Chace Foundation Trustees and the American Dance Therapy Association for allowing us to include these presentations in this issue.

This issue demonstrates the use of dance/movement therapy to directly counteract social injustices and promote healing in international settings. It also demonstrates the potential for dance/movement therapy in prevention and wellness in clinical and community settings. The use of improvisational and creative dance is presented throughout the issue as a tremendously clear, strong and powerful inroad to healing in every setting.

Three articles were selected for inclusion in this issue because, though they do not directly address social justice in dance/movement therapy, they provide provoking social justice related positions. Aggression as a natural behavioral change due to the progression of dementia related diagnoses often results in an inequitable and injurious care approach that can be addressed using a person centered, harm reduction dance/movement therapy model. As we know, internalized oppression, power and privilege dynamics and other harmful social injustices readily appear in couples dynamics. Articles included in this issue directly and indirectly address heterosexual experiences of this social microscosm within the romantic couple dyad. Beyond what the authors present, how is dance/movement therapy being used with non-heterosexual partners in ways that invite power, privilege, stigmas and internalized oppression into the therapy work? Finally, a provoking call for a re-examination of the definition of dance/movement therapy seems fitting as we—as a community—challenge our identity as dance/movement therapists, educators, supervisors and as human beings who have internalized oppression in various forms through our many identifiers and the unique intersections of those identifiers. We posit that social justice cannot be fully addressed by focusing solely on the social issues. Rather, we must be aware of where and how the social issues come into the individual(s), the setting, and the therapy process itself.

We feel that the writers in this issue offer sometimes uncomfortable information and address crucial work to make the world safer and fairer. For these reasons, we are proud to publish this issue and grateful to each thoughtful and thought-provoking contributor.

In gratitude,

Susan and Laura


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The author declares that they have no conflict of interest.

Research Involving Human Participants and/or Animals

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by the author.

Copyright information

© American Dance Therapy Association 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Columbia College ChicagoChicagoUSA

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