ANGLIA RUSKIN UNIVERSITY
DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY
“Re-joining the Stream of Life” –
An Integrated Model of Trauma group treatment combining
Dance Movement Therapy and Somatic Experiencing®
for older women suffering from spouse abuse
By: MEIRAV TAL
This research explores a new Integrative Trauma Therapy Model, which is comprised
of two methods: Dance-Movement therapy and Somatic Experiencing, in a Group
setting for traumatized patients. The aims of the research were:
(1) Exploring how, if and in what ways the model as embodied and enacted in a
therapeutic programme developed by the therapist and experienced by the
participants of this research is effective in healing those subjects, who are
traumatized women suffering from spouse abuse.
(2) Exploring and defining the healing indicators which indicate and provide
evidence of any progression among the participants from being ‘victims’ of
the traumatic effects of spouse abuse to their becoming ‘successful
(3) Inquiring, exploring and defining which aspects of the model could be said to
enable the healing process.
The conceptual framework combined theories of trauma, Neuro-physiology
and survival, body-mind connection, emphasizing use of resources and Positive
Psychology. As a piece of applied research it is focused on practice and on practical
The participants were 14 older women ages 60-83, victims of long lasting spouse
abuse. They were all clients of a centre for domestic violence in Israel where the
researcher is a practitioner. This research study accompanies and is focused on the
characteristics and effectiveness for the research participants and subjects of the
practice of the programme, which is underpinned by theories, and the therapeutic
model developed by the researcher practitioner.
The research was post positivistic and inductive, using Action Research of the
practitioner -researcher type, with features of Appreciative Inquiry. It used mixed-
methods of mainly qualitative but also quantitative research instruments which were:
modified TSC-40 Trauma Symptom Checklist; group interviews; personal interviews;
metaphoric cards; self-drawings; graphic representation of change scale; closed
questionnaire which accompanied the invovlement of the participants in the
therapeutic programme process, the researcher practitioner’s practice. Data was
The main findings showed that: The Integrative Trauma Therapy Model was
effective in healing the effects of suffering from trauma, enabling the women to move
from the ‘victim stance’ towards a more successful ‘survivor stance’. A positive
change is clearly presented, showing relief in the trauma symptoms: depression,
anxiety and dissociation. There has been a great improvement in personal abilities as
a result of the treatment especially in the ability of connecting to the body.
Five body-mind healing indicators were found as part of the healing process: body-
mind integration; vitality and aliveness; self-regulation and relaxation; empowerment;
and self- boundaries. The use of resources was found as another healing indicator.
Most of the women reported a very high level of change on all the indicators. All the
women experienced a change in their sense of empowerment.
The main themes found to characterize meanings in this healing process are:
empowerment, internal locus of control, lightness, flow, nurturing, trust, growth, faith
The conclusions are: The Integrated Model of Dance-Movement Therapy and
SE is useful in a group setting in working with traumatized people. This newly
developed; Integrated Model adds new knowledge to trauma treatment in using body-
The research results strengthen the therapeutic approach and the philosophical belief
that focusing on resiliency, resources and the body’s natural innate capacity to heal
contributes to coping with trauma even if it was accumulated for many years.
As a central principle in working with traumatized populations and especially
abused and repressed women, empowerment, reflectiveness and connecting to the
body are crucial not only in treatment programmes for them, but also in research
carried out for ‘sensitive populations’.
In the progression from ‘victim stance’ to survivor, a transformation can take place
not only for the purpose of healing from trauma but also enabling the individual to
‘re-join the stream of life’.
Tal M. (2006) “Rejoining the Stream of Life” – STREAM Model :An Integrated
Model of Trauma Group Therapy Combining Dance-Movement Therapy and Somatic
Experiencing for older women suffering from spouse abuse . Anglia Ruskin
University. A PhD Dissertation.
Dr. Meirav Tal *