Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Degree Name

MS in Dance/Movement Therapy

First Advisor

Susan Orkand

Second Advisor

Elise Risher


Oppression, discrimination, and racism are deeply rooted within our country’s institution and are the framework for the ideology, political, social, and economic values that are still upheld today. The enforcement of White body supremacy has caused trauma related mental and bodily distress to develop into anxiety, depression, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), or Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome (PTSS), and other mental conditions manifested in the body. As oppression is not officially acknowledged as trauma, it significantly complicates the process of healing for Black people. Degruy (2005) calls Black people to action to heal the traumas that have been passed down intergenerationally and have impacted them on multiple levels. I offer an approach to healing using dance/movement. This approach is derived from my ancestors, for dance served an essential role in life, addressing psychological distress, coping through trauma, ceremonies, spiritual practices, and a range of physical ailments. Dance/movement therapy serves identical purposes and created a mode of healing for the West. Influenced and dominated by a predominantly White female group, dance/movement therapy has been centralized in White body supremacy and impacts current dance/movement therapists. Currently, the field is incorporating various multi-cultural dance perspectives, but there continues to be a need for change. Through dance/movement therapists doing the inner work necessary to implement social justice and dismantle White body supremacy, change is possible.