Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Degree Name

MS in Dance/Movement Therapy

First Advisor

Elise Risher

Second Advisor

Susan Orkand


Research has shown that people of color are less likely to seek out therapy for mental health care. Instead, they, specifically members of spiritual Black communities, have relied on turning to leaders in religious communities or spiritual practices. There is a stigma around mental health care amongst Black communities. These stigmas are deeply rooted in the racial disparities in the mental health field and the historical oppression of our spiritual practices or rituals throughout the African diaspora. My intention is to help bridge the gap between religious/spiritual Black communities and mental health care by offering a model for observing, witnessing, and celebrating one's relationship to their religion and/or spirituality. Dance/movement therapy serves as the ideal modality for the integration of spirituality into the therapeutic setting. Given our unique training, dance/movement therapists are able to highlight and interact with spiritual elements on a body level as it arises in movement. In the end, the goal is to create an informed space where individuals can feel seen, on both a physical and spiritual level, while celebrating and honoring their experience. Keywords: spirituality, religion, dance/movement therapy, healing, black communities