Outcomes Framework for Dance Movement Therapy

MARA’s assessment process is based on the Outcomes Framework for Dance Movement Therapy (Dunphy et al, 2020) developed for dance movement therapists.


The Framework is available here:

English: Full version                         English: Short version

Portuguese: Full version                  Portuguese: Short version


The Outcomes Framework was originally devised for DMT programs for clients with disability in community and educational settings, informed by an earlier assessment schema created by Dunphy and Scott (2003). It was intended to assist therapists with planning and goal setting, support evidence-based understanding of client progress and assist with reporting to other professionals, funders and program managers.

The Outcomes Framework is underpinned by a holistic approach to well-being, with Therapeutic Domains comprising physical, cultural, cognitive, emotional and social and integrative categories. These Domains derive from Hanna’s (2008) universal descriptors of learning that occurs through dance. They also correspond with aspects of wellbeing considered holistically, where wellbeing is taken to mean a state of equilibrium, where individuals have a unique set of “psychological, social and physical resources . . .to meet a particular psychological, social and/or physical challenge” (Dodge, Daly, Huyton & Sanders, 2012, p. 230). These domains also align closely with outcomes of dance movement therapy identified in definitions provided by professional associations such as DTAA, EADMT  and the  ADTA.

These domains are broken down further into sub-domains and objectives that assess key non-verbal and verbal representations of participant behaviour relevant to each domain. A scale – 1 (Not at all) to 10 (Maximum conceivable) evidence of progress- is provided for each objective.

These objectives were developed in an iterative process informed by theory, empirical evidence and practice knowledge of more than 120 DM therapists from across the world  (including Australia, NZ, China, Taiwan, Holland, Italy, USA, etc), gathered through interviews and focus groups.

Plain language is used as much as possible in the Outcomes Framework, with only the minimal inclusion of specialist terminology, mostly LBMS (Laban Bartenieff Movement System) terms to facilitate its use by non-specialists who might be working with a DM therapist. Plain language is also considered more useful because it will enable greater understanding of assessment results by other stakeholders such as host organisation staff, families and clients.

Therapists select therapeutic domains and objectives to assess each session or program. The Outcomes Framework is applicable across the broad diversity of contexts, populations and cultural groups with which dance movement therapy is utilised. Also the possibility to expant the usability of the Outcomes Framework has been proposed, either for Music Therapy and Pychomotor Therapy.