School of Behavioral Sciences


Doctor of Education in Community Care and Counseling (EdD)


Walter L. Thomas


Messianic dance, depression, Judaism, dance movement therapy




This phenomenological study aimed to describe participants’ experiences in a Messianic dance workshop. The findings showed that stakeholders such as Christian therapists could find Messianic dance useful as a Scriptural physical activity, or complementary therapies for improvements in mood well-being. The theories guiding this study included foundations of dance movement therapy (DMT) by Chace (Robyn, 2018), Bowlby’s attachment theory in the form of Jewish (Pirutinsky et al., 2019), and Christian studies on God attachment (Wilder et al., 2020), religious encounters that decreased symptoms of depression (Bosco-Ruggiero, 2020; Granqvist, 2021; Topalian, 2016), physical activity related to happiness and mood betterment (Killingback et al., 2022; Zhang & Chen, 2019) and biblical foundations of what praise and worship are, (English Standard Version Bible, 2001/2016, Exodus 15:20-27, 2 Samuel 6:14-22, Psalms 149:3, 150:4, 150:6). The study strived to answer the following research question and sub-question: How do dancers describe their experiences participating in a Messianic dance workshop? How do participants in a Messianic Dance workshop describe relief from self-reported feelings of depression and improvements in mood well-being? The design for this study was based on Curry and Nunez (2015). Data collection involved attending a Messianic dance workshop, completing a post-test questionnaire, and a Zoom interview. The data was analyzed by using journaling, phenomenological reduction, Husserl’s Free Imaginative Variation method (Heppner et al., 2016), and synthesis of meanings and themes. Four main themes emerged: God is in the Midst, People Feel Better: Healing Goes Forth, There is a Sense of Community, and Messianic Dance is a Type of Exercise. There were also 13 subthemes. There has been no research on this topic until now.

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