How was MARA developed?

The development of MARA and the Outcomes Framework for Dance Movement Therapy that underpins it have been informed by theory, evidence and practice knowledge contributed by dance movement therapists across the world over a decade. This process began with a simple evaluation tool for a dance movement therapy program for clients with intellectual disability developed by Kim Dunphy and  Jenny Scott, and documented in Dunphy, K. & Scott, J. (2003). Freedom to move: Movement and dance for people with intellectual disabilities. Sydney: Elsevier.

This was followed by an expanded version of a paper assessment tool, Framework for Dance Movement Assessment, developed by Kim Dunphy and Sue Mullane and presented in a workshop at the American Dance Therapy Association Conference in 2010.

The first version of an iPad app for assessment, named Marking the Moves, was developed and presented in a workshop at the ADTA conference in 2012. This  was followed by a pilot trial involving Australian DM therapists (Kim Dunphy and Sue Mullane), US DM therapist (Laura Allen) and DMT students (Hannah Bailey and Patrick Justin) discussed at the ADTA conference in 2014. This pilot trial was documented and published in Dunphy, K., Mullane, S., & Allen, L. (2016). Developing an iPad app for assessment in dance movement therapy, The Arts in Psychotherapy, 5, 54-62.

Kim Dunphy and Sue Mullane then presented their work on the app, Using new technology for classroom assessment: an iPad app to measure learning in dance education, at the Excellence in Professional Practice Conference, Australian Council for Educational Research, in Melbourne in May 2014 where they received an Award for Outstanding Presentation. 

The next version of the app was launched in July 2015 at the Dance Movement Therapy Association Conference in Melbourne, Australia, by Professor Sherry Goodill, of Drexel University, Philadelphia, USA.  In the same year, the app received the ADTA Award for Innovation. 

Further presentations in Australia and internationally include:

In 2016, presentations entitled Connecting across countries and contexts: advancing trials of an iPad app for DMT assessment, with Kim Dunphy and Sue Mullane (Australia), Laura Allen and Pattee Russell-Curry (USA), Alida Esmail (Canada), and JungHsu Wan (New Zealand) at the American Dance Therapy Conference, in Maryland, October; and  a workshop on Assessment in dance movement therapy, at Codarts University, Rotterdam, Netherlands.

In 2017, presentation Kim Dunphy and Sue Mullane: Understanding and documenting progress in dance for children with special needs: using new technology to enable evidence-based assessment, Australian Association of Special Education, Darwin, April.

Group supervision workshop: Assessing clients’ progress in DMT: considering successful practice and challenges, Kim Dunphy and Sue Mullane, Dance Movement Therapy Association of Australasia, Melbourne, November.

Presentation: Understanding outcomes of creative arts therapy: promoting effective and systematic assessment, Group of Registered Arts Therapists, Castlemaine, Victoria, August.

Presentation: Knowing what difference we are making: practical approaches to assessment in dance movement and other creative arts therapies, CATRU Research Seminar, Melbourne, August.

Keynote presentations: International Symposium for Behavioural Medicine, Zhongshan Hospital and Inspirees Institute, Shanghai; and the Apollo Institute Conference, Beijing, China.

Presentation made by Tess Hens: Assessing client’s progress in creative arts therapies: using iPad app MARA, ANZATA/ACATA Conference, Melbourne, December.

In 2018, the app was re-launched as MARA (Movement Assessment and Reporting App) again by Professor Sherry Goodill at the Creative Arts Therapy Research Unit Seminar, University of Melbourne.

Workshop: Embodiment as an outcome of dance movement therapy: how can we assess change that occurs through the therapeutic process?, Thinking Bodies, Moving Minds symposium, Melbourne, September.

Presentation: Integrating the art and science of dance movement therapy: establishing an outcomes framework, Creative Arts Therapy Unit Research Seminar, University of Melbourne, 6 July 2018.

Presentation: Utilising new technology to assist effective and systematic assessment of dance movement therapy, European Association for Dance Movement Therapy, Athens, Greece; and Integrating the art and science of dance/movement therapy: establishing an outcomes framework, American Dance Therapy Conference, Utah, October.

Presentation:  Utilising new technology to assist effective and systematic assessment of dance movement therapy, Riart Research Institute, Alanus Hochschule, Bonn, Germany, October.

The next article to document the application of the app in a day centre for clients with intellectual disability, Dunphy, K. & Hens, T. (2018). Outcome-focussed dance movement therapy assessment enhanced by iPad app MARA.  Frontiers in Psychology.