Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Degree Name

MS in Dance/Movement Therapy

First Advisor

Susan Orkand

Second Advisor

Elise Risher


The hero’s journey tells the story of an ordinary person leaving their known life, setting out on an adventure into the unknown to fulfill a quest, and returning to their known world with some form of gift for their society. This storyline can be traced throughout myths and legends across time and cultures and is still used in current books and films to this day. The hero’s journey can also be traced throughout the course of an average person’s life and can be entered into at any time as the person encounters and overcomes trials to develop self-trust and resiliency in their life. Dance/movement therapy, which is a guided process of tuning into one’s bodily experience, intuitively moving with images, sensations, and associations as they arise, increasing awareness of oneself and others, and working towards greater integration of the many dimensions of one’s life experience follows a similar cyclical process as the hero’s journey. Dance/movement therapy utilizes the expressive and symbolic qualities of movement to help participants enter, explore, and engage with their own story in a new way. This thesis explores the parallels between the hero’s journey and the process of dance/movement therapy and how these processes can lead people into experiences of awe to promote self-exploration, greater capacity for connection with others, the ability to feel all of life’s experiences more deeply, and to foster resilience and lasting transformation.