Untying the Knots: Dance/Movement Therapy with a Family Exposed to Domestic Violence

Abstract

Domestic violence affects not only the battered victim, but all members of the family. Dance/movement therapy, through its active and metaphorical process, can provide a new therapeutic approach to assist families exposed to domestic violence. This paper provides a case illustration of the use of dance/movement therapy with a family exposed to domestic violence, as the primary therapeutic intervention. It is grounded in theories of attachment, on the primary hypothesis that dance/movement therapy offers not only a way to address the physical and emotional patterns of immobilization but also, as a reparative tool, it assists victims in integrating healthy self-regulatory capacities that have been stunted by trauma experienced through the body. The case illustration highlights how dance/movement therapy provided a direct approach to addressing specific symptoms of abuse that appeared in particular individuals in this family, as well as how “re-choreographing” the family dynamics and relationships dysregulated by the domestic violence was pivotal in helping this family to learn new ways to self-regulate.

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Correspondence to Christina Devereaux.

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Devereaux, C. Untying the Knots: Dance/Movement Therapy with a Family Exposed to Domestic Violence. Am J Dance Ther 30, 58 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10465-008-9055-x

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Keywords

  • Dance/movement therapy
  • Domestic violence
  • Trauma
  • Family therapy
  • Attachment theory
  • Affect regulation