Kenworthy, M. (2019). Creating a community based creative/ therapeutic dance program through IPA informed participatory action research [Unpublished Master’s thesis]. Alef Trust & Middlesex University.

This study explored the creation and use of a Creative/therapeutic dance (CTD) practice called Mindful Movement as a practice to manage and improve wellbeing of women. CTD has traditionally attracted a more spiritually aware client group and the researcher wanted to introduce the modality into a community setting to women who were new to CTD. The aim of this project is to determine the essential elements of a CTD program that would be both appealing to and serve the needs of beginners/general community members; and secondly, to explore the experience and impacts of a CTD program on a beginner audience. The Mindful Movement program was a four week movement and meditation program initially designed by the researcher based on an existing U.S. based CTD program called The Morning Sojourn. The study used a participatory action research approach based on the work of Kemmis and McTaggart (1988), and Grundy (1982, 1986) to collaborate with participants to modify the Mindful Movement program to suit their needs over the course of the four weeks. The researcher then utilised the Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) approach based on the work of Larkin and Thompson (2012), and Pietkiewicz and Smith (2012) to explore the lived experience of those participants via participant interviews after the completion of the program, to endeavour to understand the key themes and impacts of the program, and to determine whether the program has indeed improved the wellbeing of participants. Results indicated that all participants came into the program reporting high levels of stress in their lives. All participants reported that the program itself had been a positive experience. Results showed that the participants were divided between those who enjoyed dancing freely and those who preferred direction and guidance. Those who were comfortable dancing freely described experiences of losing themselves in the music similar to the flow state, as described by Csikszentmihalyi. Participants also described being able to focus in meditation or improve their quality of meditation after the movement practice. The key limitation of this study was a potential responder bias as the researcher was also the facilitator of the Mindful Movement program. Future research links identified included a potential link between anxiety and the ability to enter the flow state, and whether pre-participating in a movement/dance practice is associated with an ability to meditate more effectively.

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