Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Degree Name

MS in Dance/Movement Therapy

First Advisor

Elise Risher


This thesis proposes dance/movement therapy as an approach to regulating the stress response from the perspective of the endocrine system. By examining the endocrine system’s role specifically in the human stress response, one can gain clearer understanding of the hormonal components involved in the process of perceiving a stressor, reacting to it, and returning to homeostasis, as well as what happens when that process is interrupted, overworked, or dysfunctional. The impacts of these internal processes can manifest physically, mentally, emotionally, socially, and cognitively – making dance/movement therapy well-suited to thoroughly address them. This assertion was made following the investigation of the impacts of stress on the body, the endocrine system's involvement in the stress response, and existing embodied approaches to treatment. Through dance/movement therapy, regulation of the stress response can be addressed with a level of depth that holds the potential to create shifts on a hormonal level. To do this, it is proposed that approaches and interventions are centered around embodied preparation, processing, discharge, and connection with others.