Date of Award


Document Type

Doctoral Capstone

Degree Name



Graduate School of Professional Psychology

First Advisor

Shelly Smith-Acuña, Ph.D.

Second Committee Member

Ragnar Storaasli, Ph.D.

Third Committee Member

Brandon Ward, Psy.D.


Emotionally focused couples therapy (EFCT), Dance movement therapy (DMT), Ballroom dance, Couples, Non-verbal communication


Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy (EFCT), Dance Movement Therapy (DMT), and ballroom dance have each been found to be beneficial in developing individual and interpersonal verbal and non-verbal communication and emotional awareness; however, very little research has been performed on the combined therapeutic use of any of these modalities. In this study, semi-structured interviews were conducted with therapists and ballroom dance instructors who work with couples in order to facilitate dialogue regarding the limitations and benefits of therapy and ballroom dance. The core theme of this study was the ‘Interest in Application.’ The eleven additional themes that evolved were ‘Benefits of Ballroom Dance for Couples in Therapy;’ ‘Implications of Non-verbal Communication;’ ‘Emotional Reveal;’ ‘Emotional Dysregulation;’ ‘The Impact of Implementing Change;’ ‘Result of the Physical Engagement;’ ‘The Role of a Profession;’ ‘Competency and Comfort;’ ‘Professional Therapeutic Partnerships;’ ‘Challenges;’ and ‘Ethical Considerations.’ The study demonstrated that there are benefits to utilizing ballroom dance as an enhancing therapeutic tool for couples in emotional distress when there is a deficiency in non-verbal communication skills. The results also suggest that there is a manageable partnership and application capability for therapists and ballroom dance instructors who work with couples.


Copyright held by the author.


46 pages

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Available for download on Wednesday, July 15, 2020