American Journal of Dance Therapy

, Volume 33, Issue 2, pp 157–181 | Cite as

Movement and Mindfulness: A Formative Evaluation of a Dance/Movement and Yoga Therapy Program with Participants Experiencing Severe Mental Illness

  • Emma J. BartonEmail author


This article provides a process/formative evaluation of the program Movement and Mindfulness, a body-based program designed and implemented for use with an outpatient psychosocial rehabilitation facility. The Movement and Mindfulness program offered stress-reduction, coping skills, and pro-social behavior for people experiencing severe mental illness using dance/movement therapy and yoga therapy-based techniques, as well as traditional group counseling and the Eastern concept of mindfulness. A formative evaluation was carried out during a 20-week period, involving an experiential curriculum focused on self-regulation and self-awareness. This study used qualitative methods including interviews, surveys, and verbal group feedback for data collection and analysis. The results provide examples of psychological and physical shifts that had occurred for the participants during the course of the program. Participants’ clinical observations revealed amelioration in pro-social behaviors, stress management, and communication skills. Numerous hypotheses emerged to be tested in future studies at the interface of Movement and Mindfulness programs.


Formative program evaluation Severe mental illness Dance/movement therapy Yoga Mindfulness Intercultural differences (in framing of mental disease/in understanding mentally ill or alike) 



I would like to thank the Chicago Area Albert Schweitzer Fellowship Program for providing opportunities for graduate health and social service students to pursue service projects with underserved communities. I would also like to acknowledge and thank Damian Shiner, who edited this manuscript.

The implementation and evaluation of Movement and Mindfulness was in part made possible by a stipend awarded to the author by a 2008–2009 Chicago Area Albert Schweitzer Fellowship. The Movement and Mindfulness program was originally designed for use with people experiencing homelessness and substance abusing populations. It was modified for use with persons experiencing severe mental illness (SMI) within an outpatient psychosocial rehabilitation program.


  1. Barak-Bluntner, N. (1999). Tai Chi and dance/movement therapy: An experiential group with adolescents who have used drugs. Unpublished master’s thesis, Lesley College, Cambridge, MA.Google Scholar
  2. Bartenieff, I. (2002). Body movement: Coping with the environment. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  3. Bernard, A. (1978). Yoga and dance therapy. Unpublished master’s thesis, Lone Mountain College, San Francisco, CA.Google Scholar
  4. Borskey, A. (2007). Interactions of dual training and practice in dance/movement therapy and yoga: An interview study. Unpublished master’s thesis, Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA.Google Scholar
  5. Broota, A., & Dhir, R. (1990). Efficacy of two relaxation techniques in depression. Journal of Personality and Clinical Studies, 6(1), 83–90.Google Scholar
  6. Brown, R., & Gerbarg, P. (2005). Sudarshan Kriya yogic breathing in the treatment of stress, anxiety, and depression: Part I–neurophysiologic model. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 11(1), 189–201.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Chan, C., Chan, T., & Ng, S. (2006). The strength-focused and meaning-oriented approach to resilience and transformation (SMART): A body-mind-spirit approach to trauma management. Social Work in Health Care, 43(2), 9–36.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Chen, K., Tseng, W., Ting, L., & Huang, G. (2007). Development and evaluation of a yoga exercise programme for older adults. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 57(4), 432–441.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Daly, L. (2002). Discovering the self: Connections between dance/movement therapy and hatha yoga. Unpublished master’s thesis, Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, NY.Google Scholar
  10. Davis, L., Strasburger, A., & Brown, L. (2007). Mindfulness: An intervention for anxiety in schizophrenia. Journal of Psychosocial Nursing & Mental Health Services, 45(11), 23–29.Google Scholar
  11. Derezotes, D. (2000). Evaluation of yoga and meditation trainings with adolescent sex offenders. Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal, 17(2), 97–113.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Duraiswamy, G., Thirthalli, J., Nagendra, H. R., & Gangadhar, B. N. (2007). Yoga therapy as an add-on treatment in the management of patients with schizophrenia: A randomized controlled trial. ACRA Psychiatrica Scandivica, 116, 226–232.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Elkins, G., Rajab, M., & Marcus, J. (2005). Complementary and alternative medicine use by psychiatric inpatients. Psychological Reports, 96(1), 163–166.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Furlager, A. (2007). Coming home: Mindfulness practice and embodiment in resolving trauma. Unpublished master’s thesis. Columbia College, Chicago.Google Scholar
  15. Goldstein, K. (1978). An approach to movement related to dance movement therapy. Unpublished master’s thesis, Lesley College Graduate School, Cambridge, MA.Google Scholar
  16. Gupta, N., Khera, S., Vempati, R. P., Sharma, R., & Bijlani, R. L. (2006). Effects of yoga based lifestyle intervention on state and trait anxiety. Indian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology, 50(4), 428–436.Google Scholar
  17. Hackney, P. (2002). Making connections: Total body integration through Bartenieff fundamentals. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  18. Hervey, L., & Kornblum, R. (2006). An evaluation of Kornblum’s body-based violence prevention curriculum for children. The Arts in Psychotherapy, 33(2), 113–129.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Hopper, K., & Wanderling, J. (2000). Revisiting the developed versus developing country distinction in course and outcome in schizophrenia: Results from ISoS, the WHO collaborative follow up project. Schizophrenia Bulletin, 26(4), 835–846.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. Integral Yoga Magazine. (2009, Summer). Yoga and post-traumatic stress disorder: An interview with Bessel van der Kolk, MD. 12–15. Google Scholar
  21. International Association of Yoga Therapists. (2007, December). What is yoga therapy? An IAYT definition. Yoga Therapy in Practice. Retrieved from
  22. Jablensky, A. (2000). Epidemiology of schizophrenia: The global burden of disease and disability. European Archives of Psychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience, 250(6), 274–285.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Jacobson, S. (2004). The effects of yoga breathing in dance/movement therapy sessions with Alzheimer’s patients. Unpublished master’s thesis, Naropa University, Boulder, CO.Google Scholar
  24. Janakiramaiah, N., Gangadhar, B., Murthy, P., Harish, M., Subbakrishna, D., & Vedamurthachar, A. (2000). Antidepressant efficacy of Sudarshan Kriya Yoga (SKY) in melancholia: A randomized comparison with electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) and imipramine. Journal of Affective Disorders, 57(1), 255–259.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Karno, M., & Jenkins, J. (1993). Cross-cultural issues in the course and treatment of schizophrenia. Psychiatric Clinics of North America, 16(2), 339–350.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. Koshland, L., Wittaker, J., & Wilson, B. (2004). Peace through dance/movement: Evaluating a violence prevention program. American Journal of Dance Therapy, 2(2), 69–90.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Kozasa, E., Santos, R., Rueda, A., Benedito-Silva, A., De Moraes Ornellas, F., & Leite, J. (2008). Evaluation of Siddha Samadhi yoga for anxiety and depression symptoms: A preliminary study. Psychological Reports, 103(1), 271–274.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Lavey, R., Sherman, T., Mueser, K. T., Osborne, D. D., Currier, M., & Wolfe, R. (2005). The effects of yoga on mood in psychiatric inpatients. Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal, 28(4), 399–402.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Li, F., Harmer, P., McAuley, E., Duncan, T., Duncan, S., Chaumeton, N., et al. (2001). An evaluation of the effects of Tai Chi exercise on physical function among older persons: A randomized controlled trial. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 23(2), 139–146.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Loupe, C. (1986). T’ai chi ch’uan: An exploration of its psychological components in relation to dance/movement therapy. Unpublished master’s thesis, Antioch/New England Graduate School, Keane, NH.Google Scholar
  31. Lustman, H. (1999). Movement, breathing and feeling. Unpublished master’s thesis, Lesley College, Cambridge, MA.Google Scholar
  32. Malathi, A., & Damodaran, A. (1999). Stress due to exams in medical students—role of yoga. Indian Journal of Physiological Pharmacology, 43, 218–224.Google Scholar
  33. Mertens, D. (2005). Research and evaluation in education and psychology: Integrating diversity with quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  34. Newlove, J., & Dalby, J. (2004). Laban for all. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  35. Palgi, I. (2007). Our story of yoga: Participatory learning and action with young children. Children, Youth and Environments, 17(2), 329–340.Google Scholar
  36. Perkins, S. (1998). The dancing Buddha: Buddhist practices and principles and the healing art of dance/movement therapy. Unpublished master’s thesis, Naropa University, Boulder, CO.Google Scholar
  37. Pilkington, K., Kirkwood, G., Rampes, H., & Richardson, J. (2005). Yoga for depression: The research evidence. Journal of Affective Disorders, 89(1), 13–24.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Porges, S. W. (2005). The role of social engagement in attachment and bonding: A phylogenetic perspective. In C. S. Carter, et al. (Eds.), 92nd Dahlem workshop on attachment and bonding: A new synthesis (pp. 1–22). Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.Google Scholar
  39. Ray, U., Mukhopadhyaya, S., & Purkayastha, S. (2001). Effect of yogic exercise on physical and mental health of young fellowship course trainees. Indian Journal of Physiological Pharmacology, 45, 37–53.Google Scholar
  40. Risher, E. (1991). Zen and the art of dance therapy. Unpublished master’s thesis, Hunter College, New York, NY.Google Scholar
  41. Saraswati, S. (1984). Kundalini Tantra. Bihar: Yoga Publications Trust.Google Scholar
  42. Sartorius, N., Gulbinat, W., Harrison, G., & Laska, E. (1996). Long-term follow-up of schizophrenia in 16 countries: A description of the international study of schizophrenia conducted by the World Health Organization. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, 31(5), 249–258.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  43. Scudder, A. (1993). Dancing with the beast. A philosophical embodied approach to the resolution of internal conflict utilizing ki and the principles inherent in the art of Karate. Unpublished master’s thesis, Antioch/New England Graduate School, Keane, NH.Google Scholar
  44. Shannahoff-Khalsa, D. (2004). An introduction to kundalini yoga meditation techniques that are specific for the treatment of psychiatric disorders. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 10(1), 91–101.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Siegel, D. (1999). The developing mind: Toward a neurobiology of interpersonal experience. New York, NY: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  46. Spaeth, M. (2003). The recovery of spirituality in trauma, stress, and loss: A conceptual integration of analytical psychotherapy, core shamanism, and Kundalini yoga. Dissertation Abstracts International, 63, 5537.Google Scholar
  47. Spector, P. (1981). T’ai chi chuan as a adjunctive movement therapy for gestalt oriented work with individuals. Unpublished master’s thesis, Antioch/New England Graduate School, Keane, NH.Google Scholar
  48. Stamm, T. (2005). The integration of the chakra energy system and dance/movement therapy. Unpublished master’s thesis. Columbia College, Chicago.Google Scholar
  49. Stewart, J. (1998). Dancing the yogic arc of life: An exploration into the nature of holistic health and healing as moving within wholeness. Unpublished master’s thesis, Lesley College, Cambridge, MA.Google Scholar
  50. Tharp, R., & Gallimore, R. (1988). Rousing minds to life: Teaching, learning, and schooling in social context. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  51. Vedamurthachar, A., Janakiramaiah, N., Hegde, J., Shetty, T., Subbakrishna, D., Sureshbabu, S., & Ganadhar, B. (2006). Antidepressant efficacy and hormonal effects of Sudarshana Kriya Yoga (SKY) in alcohol dependent individuals. Journal of Affective Disorders, 94(1), 249–253.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Visceglia, E. (2007). Healing mind and body: Using therapeutic yoga in the treatment of schizophrenia. International Journal of Yoga Therapy, 17, 95–103.Google Scholar
  53. Vrinte, J. (2002). Perennial quest for a psychology with a soul: An inquiry into the relevance of Sri Aurobindo’s metaphysical yoga psychology in the context of Ken Wilber’s integral psychology. New Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers.Google Scholar
  54. Warner, R. (2007). Review of Recovery from schizophrenia: An international perspective. A report from the WHO collaborative project, the International Study of Schizophrenia. American Journal of Psychiatry, 164(9), 1444–1445.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Weinrich, W. (1987). The combining of dance/movement therapy and yoga for cocaine addicts: A wholistic treatment. Unpublished master’s thesis, The Naropa Institute, Boulder, CO.Google Scholar
  56. Weiser, M., Kutz, I., Kutz, S., & Weiser, D. (1995). Psychotherapeutic aspects of the martial arts. American Journal of Psychotherapy, 49(1), 118–127.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  57. Williams-Kief, M. (2003) Combining yoga and dance/movement therapy: A treatment model to increase self-esteem in partially hospitalized adolescent females. Unpublished master’s thesis, Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© American Dance Therapy Association 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.BostonUSA

Personalised recommendations