Help: FAQs & User Guide

Help: FAQs & User Guide

This page provides answers to FAQ and a Guide to Using MARA. (Still under development)


What do I need to use MARA?

MARA can be used with all current i-Pads. Users with some older style iPads and mini-pads  have generally been able to utilise all important features of MARA, although there are occasionally some formatting and other minor issues.

What other set up do I need to use MARA?

MARA utilises Filemaker Go software which is free for end users. Just download the latest version of Filemaker (16, 17 or later versions are most suitable) onto your iPad to start.

Is MARA available in other platforms? 

Currently MARA is only available in an iPad-compatible form.  We understand that potential users may prefer to use Android devices or computer versions, but these are not yet likely for MARA. We will consider this in future versions, but not at least until 2020.

Password: What to do when I have forgotten my password?

If you forget your password to MARA, please email us and we’ll get back to you with a temporary login that will allow you to change your password.




MARA is organised into two main sections:

‘Participants’ (where information and assessment data about individual clients is kept) and ‘Groups’ (where individual clients are listed together as a Group). The Help/Support button links through to our website ( that has detailed information and videos (coming soon) to explain how MARA works.

Participant details
In this feature, you can store information about clients: name, contact information, photo and other information using ‘Notes’.  Here’s also where you will find data stored about your client’s participation in the DMT program: ‘Sessions and Attendance’- number of sessions attended and their dates, and ‘Notes and Media’ (photos, videos, audio recordings) taken during sessions.

The ‘Results’ button near the top right of the page will take you to the page where quantitative data from clients’ assessments is stored.

New Participant
Click on ‘New Participant’ to start a entering details about a new client.

Import list
This feature enables a list of client names and other information to be imported directly into MARA.

Send email to this list
This feature enables emails to be sent to all names on this list, or names selected by checking the box on the left.

Participant list
This page lists all participants whose details are saved into MARA.


This feature enables you to group clients into ‘Groups’

Group Details and Make Session
This feature enables you to keep information about each group.
‘Group ID’:(what you call this group – this might be a name such as ‘Wed Mums and Bubs’, or number such as ‘Year 10A’).
‘Description’: A short description of the group (eg.  New young mothers and babies up to one year, Mostly boys aged 16 and 17 years.
‘Location’: where does this group take place
‘Notes’: In this section you might write notes about your goals for a particular period of time, or any other information that is relevant.

Add Participants
To add  this button at the bottom of the page to go participants list. Check the box next to each name to add it to the ‘Group’ list.

Exporting data
Assessment data ( in excel and graph form, notes and media) can be exported from MARA by email.

Ensure that your iPad has email access on it to enable this feature to work




Outcomes Framework
MARA is underpinned by an Outcomes Framework for Dance Movement Therapy (overview available here) created for assessment in DMT, and structured across five outcome domains: physical, intrapersonal /emotional, cultural, cognitive and social (interpersonal). The measures in this Framework are continually being improved, and MARA will be updated as new information is available.  Existing MARA users will be sent updated versions.

The Outcomes Framework takes a person-centred and strength-based approach intended to support the therapist to make judgements that are considerate of individuals’ strengths and lived experiences.

The provision of an outcomes framework that includes specific measures across a comprehensive set of domains is intended to support a therapist to better specify outcomes being sought in their program.

This catalyses the DM therapist to first clearly identify outcomes of the therapeutic process that s/he and the client have agreed to work towards, and focus intently on assessing the client’s progress towards these, selecting a score for each instance of a movement behaviour observed. Previous users of the app report their observations practices being ‘sharpened’ in using MARA, especially in its requirement that a numerical score for each objective must be selected to represent the quality of movement observed (Dunphy, Mullane & Allen, 2016).


MARA’s facility to record and export assessment data in multiple formats (numerical graphs, written notes, photos, videos and drawings) and then save it in a client’s profile filed by session, time and date is intended to enable evidence-based assessment, with therapists’ scores and written observations able to be triangulated by these multi-media forms. Quick scoring with taps on MARA is intended to facilitate more regular and efficient assessment than is possible with paper-based processes that need additional work to process into reports.


How does MARA work to record  assessment data?

The DM therapist taps MARA to record a score for each time they see a behaviour or a movement that they wish to assess. MARA records the number of taps made, and the range and average score for each measure in each session, then makes them instantaneously into graphs. Graphs can be produced for data across one session, or a period of sessions. This instantaneous visual feedback of client progress is expected to be affirming to the assessor, who is able to see patterns in the client profile immediately they occur. 


Assessment scales

Assessment scales used in MARA are not norm-referenced, but referenced against the therapist’s judgement of the participant’s current capacity on that goal. The therapist scores how close s/he believes the participant to be in achieving their current potential, with a high score indicating actualisation of skills and capacity, and a low score indicating potential as yet under-developed or enacted. This offers the possibility for the scale to be adjusted over time to reflect changes in the participant’s capacity (improved or otherwise) as a result of the therapeutic process or other factors.


How do I know what score to give my client? 

MARA‘s assessment process requires DM therapists to score their client on a scale of 1-10, where 1 is the lowest and 10 is the highest achievement that might be expected for any goal. The Outcomes Framework is not norm-referenced, because each DM therapist works with clients of varying capacities. The intention of dance movement therapy is that each client achieves their potential, so the therapists job is to support them to achieve that. Therefore, the therapists makes the rating score based on what they believe the client’s capacity for that item is at that time. Rating using the scale is made against the client’s own capacity.


How can I score Effort elements when both polarities are on the same scale?

In the case of Effort elements, the therapist is looking for clients’ increased access to the full range of the element. For example, for the Effort quality of Time, a DM therapist would ideally support their client to achieve the fullest access to the spectrum of Suddenness to Sustainment, with neither extreme being better or worse. What is desirable is that clients have access to both extremes or polarities of the element.

Therefore, good access across the range (within the client’s capabilities) would score highly. Where a client did was not demonstrating good access to one or other aspect of Time (suddenness or sustainment, or the whole spectrum, again as relative to their capability) then they might also score lower.

If you had decided to work on one aspect of Time, such as suddenness, with your client because the client had little access to that, you might score that low, and you would write in your accompanying notes (on the app) that your score was related to Suddenness. You might not be focussing on sustainment in that session because the client had good access to it, or because you had decided to work on the different polarities of Time separately. If you were working on sustainment in a different session, the score might be either high or low depending on what you observed, and your notes would help support your scores.


When should I assess: how often within a session, or in how many sessions?

MARA is a tool to support DM therapists’ assessment practice, so it can be used in place of existing assessment practices and as  frequently as they have been undertaken.  In DMT programs where assessment has not yet been established,  MARA‘s users needs to decide what their purpose is for assessing to decide how often they assess (and tap). An assessor can decide to tap once in a session at the time a behaviour or movement is observed or multiple times to indicate frequency of occurrence of the behaviour or movement being assessed, or at particular time intervals throughout a session.

Where MARA is enabling assessment practices that have not previously occurred, and therapists have to make decisions about what they do, here are some thoughts:

a) assessment of each outcome measure might be undertaken once per session at a certain point that has been decided beforehand, for example, during a particular activity that is intended to elicit the movement behaviour being sought;

b) assessment might occur at the end of the session to record a score that the therapist decides is representative of the client’s overall performance on that element for the session. This scoring might occur with therapist/s scoring independently or therapist might choose to confer with other colleagues or support workers at the end of the session, to end up with one score each for each client on the goals for the session;

c) it might be a very salient moment (either towards desired goals or not) that happened during the session that the therapist has  observed and wants to record;

d) if the app is being used for research where a therapist or researcher has a good amount of time to focus on one client or one movement element, one score might be made of every time the element (for example, suddenness) occurs throughout the session. This process would enable the development of a picture of when suddenness is elicited in a client’s movement, and therefore how the therapist might respond.  If more suddenness is required for the client to have a good movement range, then finding the moment that this quality is elicited (for example, when  mirroring someone who is very skilful in this quality) would enable the therapeutic program to be adapted to include more of such moments to offer the client the greatest chance to develop their own capacity;

e) researchers might also decide to score at a particular time period throughout the session (such as every five minutes) so that they are sure they are recording all of the client’s capacities, and not just those they are looking for (such as high access to suddenness). This would help reduce the possibility that the therapist only records the things they are wanting to see and misses all the rest of the time when the client is not actually being supported to access whatever it might be;

f) researchers might tap every time a particular quality is evidenced (this is more like micro-analysis) that would enable a whole session to be analysed in minute detail. This type of assessment would not be within the scope of a therapist offering dance movement therapy with clients, but might be useful to offer particular insight.

A, b and c are more likely to be useful strategies for therapists using the app as part of their normal practice, and d, e and f more for researchers or those therapists who are resourced to do detailed analysis.

Can I include additional goals for assessment as I use MARA?

No, there is not an option for additional goals in MARA. The idea of the Outcomes Framework on which MARA is based is that it currently, or eventually, will include all outcomes that are documented as being achieved through DMT, or that therapists have reported that they look for. By having a standard set of outcomes with associated measures that DM therapists use to assess their work, the need for every DM therapist to invent their own measures is eliminated.

Having shared measures also increases the effectiveness of those researching and writing about their work, especially because this enables the possibility of datasets that can be joined, compared or otherwise put together.

If you have a goal that you think should be included in MARA, please email us and we can consider it. It’s possible to include new ideas, as long as they fit the criteria (documented as being achieved through DMT or that therapists have reported that they look for). It’s also possible that the description or definition of current outcomes could be adjusted to cover goals that practitioners seek to address.

Managing client data in MARA

Privacy of client data is an important consideration for all professionals. MARA offers security features to enable privacy and confidential data management. First, each ipad has a password protection. The MARA has up to two levels of password protection: for individual users there is only one level, but for those sharing a MARA licence in an agency or program, a second level is available with the manager of the program having capacity to enable or disable staff accounts.