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Cassie Jeng 4

Susan Kierr, BC-DMT, NCC, AD, MA


Andree Schelleschi, RICA DMT
Ms. Mary Jane Sasser
IR-3/ AP 11

Updated Research Proposal:

Overview of Research:
People acquire different kinds of eating disorders, and because each individual is unique,
different ways of treating these issues need to be considered. Different people with different
types of eating disorders- anorexia, bulimia, binge eating, etc.- need different types of treatment
in order to respond isn a successful way. Cognitive-behavioral therapy had been used for years
for treating this type of mental health issue, however this method does not prove the most
successful for every individual. On the other hand, dance/movement therapy, is the use of dance
and movement in the therapy. Dance/movement therapy has been introduced to accommodate
those who need less structured and verbal environments. While both cognitive-behavioral
therapy and dance/movement therapy have been beneficial when used with people who have
eating disorders, combining both could provide a new and better opportunity for eating disorder
therapy. I will investigate the use of a combined therapy with aspects from dance/movement
therapy and cognitive therapy, evaluating the success rates of this proposed method.

Background and History of the Issue:


According to the National Eating Disorder Association, around 10-15% of the world
population suffers from eating disorders, and a large majority of this statistic is women. So many
women, and men, suffer from this disorder and never get help because of an internal fear of the
treatment process. Denial is a large part of eating disorders, as well as a rejection to find
treatment because of a misconception that therapy for this type of neurological disease involves
being locked in a room and force-fed. However, there are so many other ways of dealing with
neurological conditions that are much more appealing to the psyche.
Psychotherapeutic methods are based on a variety of theoretical frameworks and each of
these is structured to help different aspects of mental problems. Cognitive therapy is a form that
works through verbal discussion, while dance/movement therapy is a form that works to
reconnect the mind and body through movement. These two techniques for treating people with
eating disorders are the focus of this investigation. Other practices might be considered, but not
in the scope of this study. Examining a cognitive approach and a body centered approach serves
as a lens toward a relevant combination for the body mind nature of eating disorders.

Problem Statement and Rationale:


Cognitive behavioral therapy and dance/movement therapy are both being used now to
treat patients suffering from eating disorders. While cognitive is a more traditional approach and
dance/movement therapy is a more recent and newly developed method, both work well in
treating patients with this mental condition. However, there are many different kinds of people in
the world, all learning and acting in different ways. This, therefore poses a need for even more
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strategies for treatment in order to have the highest success rate possible and treat the most
number of patients using the largest variety of treatment methods. Adding an additional method
by combining cognitive therapy and dance/movement therapy would allow for a new option for
patients that has the potential for reaching other patients with new treatment activities, as well as
proving more successful by combining advantageous aspects and decreasing obstacles with each
individual therapy.

Research Methodology:
Research Question and Hypothesis:
Question: Do cognitive-behavioral therapists know about dance/movement therapy, and do
dance/movement therapists know that working with cognitive-behavioral therapy is an option?

Hypothesis: Cognitive-behavioral therapists do not know that dance/movement therapy is a


viable use for treatment because it is such a new approach, while dance/movement therapists are
not aware the they could combine their efforts with cognitive-behavioral therapy, however, both
parties will see these options are reasonable and worthwhile to invest.

Basis of Hypothesis:
It was found that cognitive-behavioral therapy and dance/movement therapy are two options for
eating disorder treatment, while both are very different, they are both equally effective.
However, there are ways that they can be combined in order to create a new form of treatment
that counteracts the challenges posed by each when used individually. But, in order to have this
new method be developed to help others with this mental illness, there must be awareness
between the two groups of the other’s ability and effectiveness.

Research Design:
Because of the structure of the research, there is no way for actual data to be collected about the
effectiveness of a proposed method for treatment without going through processes to obtain
permission to consult patients, patient files, or other specific confidential medical information.
Therefore, the project will consist of two surveys. Each will be specifically designed to be
received by either cognitive-behavioral therapists or dance/movement therapists. The survey for
cognitive-behavioral therapy will be centered around whether their field is aware that
dance/movement therapy is a developed option for eating disorder treatment. The survey for
dance/movement therapy will focus on whether this new field has ever worked collaboratively
with cognitive-behavioral therapy before, whether it was successful or not, and whether they
think this concept is an option that has potential to work for future treatment methods. The goal
would be to have points of contact answer the survey and spread it to other colleagues in order to
collect more data from a variety of therapists in the field. The surveys would be made a
reasonable length in order to not take up too much time from the individual answering the
questions, hoping to therefore encourage more answers from different therapists. This data
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collected will provide insight into whether or not it is a worthwhile to work to develop the new
proposed style of eating disorder treatment that combines the two pre-existing methods.

Operational Definitions:
An eating disorder is a type of mental illness that is characterized by abnormal eating habits and
obsessions with body appearance and image. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a traditional form
of treatment for eating disorders, working with the patients through either an inpatient or
outpatient facility to verbally talk through their challenges with a professional therapist or
psychologist. Dance/movement therapy is a more recently developed form of treatment for
eating disorders that works with direct contact with the body and physical movement in order to
reestablish a connection between the patients’ mind and body, since eating disorders are so
largely body-oriented.

Product Overview:
The first goal for the research project is to present to an AP psychology class at the local
high school. This will share the information with the younger generation studying mental
conditions and other education in that general field. The final goal would then be to submit and
publish the research in the National Journal of High School science and the American Journal of
Dance Therapy to share the research on a wider scale. This would spread the information in a
more professional and accredited manner to any medical expert or other researcher who
expressed interest.

Logistical Considerations:
For this project design, there will be a need for professional style surveys to gather
information relevant to the topics in question. In addition, the research demands a source to
spread the surveys in order to obtain as many responses from a variety of therapists in both
fields. The points of contact will be Dr. Susan Kleinman and Dr. Susan Kierr, two board certified
dance/movement therapists. Lastly, the project will require permission from an AP Psychology
class at the local high school in order to present, and the means to submit the research paper to
the National Journal of High School Science and the American Journal of Dance Therapy.

Student Signature: ____________________________________________ Date: _____________


G/T Resource Teacher Signature: ________________________________ Date: _____________
Advisor Signature: ____________________________________________ Date: _____________