Medical Student David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA University of California Los Angeles David Geffen School of Medicine Los Angeles, California, United States
Background: Sexual violence is a significant public health concern, especially among children. While the prevalence and incidence of sexual violence is difficult to quantify, available data strongly suggest that sexual violence is common and that sexual violence during childhood has destructive effects on physical and mental health. Therapeutic dance has been increasingly used as a treatment modality for sexual trauma resulting from sexual violence, yet its evidence-based efficacy has not yet been catalogued. We thus conducted a systematic review to summarize the existing evidence for therapeutic dance as an intervention for healing after sexual trauma.
Design/Methods: Using PRISMA guidelines, we searched 5 major electronic databases from their inception to July 2020 for peer-reviewed intervention studies on the use of therapeutic dance for individuals suffering from sexual trauma. Studies were included based on the following criteria: 1) study involves individuals who have been exposed to sexual trauma; 2) study reports on any form of dance as a therapeutic intervention; and 3) study reports on intervention outcomes. Reported outcomes were extracted and organized into emergent domains per a thematic analysis approach.
Results: A total of 783 sources were identified. Of these, 11 studies met eligibility criteria and were identified for data extraction. The 11 studies described diverse participant settings, patient populations, and delivery methods. Study participant age ranged from 11 to 67 years old, and participants included both males and females. Seven of the 11 studies included participants who had faced childhood sexual abuse. Studies show that therapeutic dance provides healing through benefits in three broad domains: affect, self, and interpersonal relationships. Notably, the studies in this review suggested that therapeutic dance offers an effective and complementary treatment modality to verbalized talk therapy, which some pediatric patients may find difficult. Conclusion(s): The emerging literature suggests that therapeutic dance is an effective intervention for those who have experienced sexual trauma with improved outcomes related to affect, the self, and interpersonal relationships. Because the majority of the studies in this review included participants who experienced child sexual abuse, the findings presented here can be used to incorporate therapeutic dance as a possible treatment modality that pediatric practitioners and intervention programs can offer to children who have been subjected to sexual violence.
Authors/Institutions: Joyce Lee, University of California Los Angeles David Geffen School of Medicine, San Diego, California, United States; Janeet Dhauna, University of California Los Angeles David Geffen School of Medicine, San Diego, California, United States; Jennifer Silvers, University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California, United States; Meredith Harper Houston, Swan Within, Los Angeles, California, United States; Elizabeth S. Barnert, UCLA, Los Angeles, California, United States