American Journal of Dance Therapy

, Volume 38, Issue 2, pp 334–357 | Cite as

Dance/Movement Therapy: Learning to Look Through Video Microanalysis

  • Rebecca Houghton
  • Beatrice Beebe


This study examines the movement behavior of a therapist and her client during one dance/movement therapy (DMT) session, through the lens of mother-infant face-to-face communication research conducted with video microanalysis. Dance/movement therapy and mother-infant interaction research have in common a focus on the details of movement patterns and how these patterns are coordinated between two people. Microanalysis of movement patterns operates as a “social microscope,” revealing aspects of a subterranean world of communication within the dyad, which are too rapid for the naked eye to grasp in real time. We present a microanalysis of the movement patterns of the first 80 s of a DMT session conducted by the first author with an adolescent diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Our goal was to describe moments of coordination and patterns of disruption and repair that were not visible in the video when played in real time. We present drawings based on the video microanalysis to illustrate two clinically meaningful moments in the first 80 s of the session. Through this detailed description and the drawings, we illustrate: (a) how the therapist in training understood more about her own process of learning to become a dance/movement therapist; (b) what microanalysis of a very short segment of time can reveal about this specific dyad; (c) how microanalysis may be useful to the DMT profession.


Autism Dance/movement therapy Mother-infant research Video microanalysis Training dance/movement therapists 



We thank JT Yost for the illustrations, and Kristen Kim and Andrea Tocci for assistance with the manuscript and drawings. Rebecca Houghton thanks Julie Miller and Christina Devereaux. Beatrice Beebe thanks the Bernard and Esther Besner Infant Research Fund.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. This article does not contain any studies with animals performed by any of the authors.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© American Dance Therapy Association 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Registered Dance/Movement TherapistPortlandUSA
  2. 2.New York State Psychiatric Institute #108, Columbia UniversityNew YorkUSA

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