Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Degree Name

MS in Dance/Movement Therapy


Dance/Movement Therapy Graduate Program


A healthy relationship between a therapist and client is core to the therapeutic process. This therapeutic relationship occurs in the context of the culture at large, and will be affected by the cultural identities of both the therapist and client. With this in mind, it is vital that therapists cultivate cultural humility and become familiar with their own cultural identity and biases, to grow in awareness of their effect on interaction with clients. In dance/movement therapy, the nonverbal and embodied elements of relating are especially important to consider. This thesis focuses on racial identity in the context of cultural realities in the United States, including a review of relevant literature and a heuristic first-person study conducted by the author to explore her own biases relating to race and their manifestation on a body level. Literature and the author’s research suggest that therapist bias is likely to manifest, including nonverbally, and negatively impact the therapeutic relationship unless it is acknowledged and addressed.