Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Degree Name

MS in Dance/Movement Therapy


Dance/Movement Therapy Graduate Program


This theoretical inquiry investigates the experiences and needs of family members of people with addiction; a group which is rapidly growing in the United States, and one that has been largely neglected by health service providers and medical professionals. With more than 22 million Americans currently addicted to drugs and alcohol (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2017), and 365 drug-related deaths occurring each day (Sheff, 2013), the scope of family member grief and suffering is immeasurable. Evidence-based research reveals that family members lose touch with their own basic needs and experience high rates of psychological and physical health disorders, and social and financial instability as a result of their loved one’s addiction and subsequent stigmatization from the wider culture. Despite the severity and urgency of family member needs and the mounting evidence that their wellness improves their loved one’s success in recovery, families have been given little to no therapeutic resources, let alone options. This inquiry concludes with a discussion of the existing resources, which offer conflicting approaches, and the suggestion of dance/movement therapy as an additional therapeutic treatment option that can improve family member coping. It is proposed that a body-based, psychotherapeutic approach would allow family members to notice important distinctions between thoughts and feelings, self and other, and to distinguish between popular addiction theories and individualized needs and preferences amidst the unpredictable course of a loved one’s addiction.