This study aims to investigate the efficacy of community dance for veterans with PTSD. Community dance has been shown to strengthen cognitive plasticity which is often a problem for veterans with PTSD. Community dance programs take place over 10 weeks. Veterans and their accompanying family are assessed before and after the program. The study found improvements in wellness scores for all participants regardless of PTSD severity.
Prior research has shown that there are several symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) that are persistently hard to treat and critically important for full recovery. Community reintegration can be an especially challenging aspect of returning home from combat duty. The purpose of this study was to test the effects of a community dance program on some of these psychological symptoms. Community dance has been shown to strengthen cognitive plasticity which is often a problem for veterans with PTSD. This program also includes predictable gentle touch and family involvement, two elements that can predict stress reduction and successful community reintegration in those with PTSD. Before and after each ten-week community dance program, seventeen veterans and accompanying family members were measured on connectedness using the Interpersonal Needs Questionnaire, Revised (INQ-R) (Van Orden, Witte, Gordon, Bender, & Joiner, 2008), experience avoidance using the Acceptance and Action Questionnaire, Version 2 (AAQ-II) (Bond, et al., 2011), and hope and optimism using a modified Life Orientation Test, Revised questionnaire (LOT-r ) Scheier, Carver, & Bridges, 1994), combined into a wellness score. Each ten-week program consisted of weekly, 90-minute community dances with live music and a nationally recognized dance caller. We found improvements in wellness scores for all participants, regardless of PTSD status, partial h2 =0.52. We think this program, and programs like it, show great promise in treating some of the most persistent symptoms of PTSD in veterans and in their families.
Gustafson, R., Corbitt, C., Denenfeld, D., Johnson, T., Jimenez, C. and Tristao, M., 2019. Pilot Data on Effects of Community Dance for Veterans with PTSD and their Family Members. Journal of Veterans Studies, 4(2), pp.238–248. DOI: http://doi.org/10.21061/jvs.v4i2.68