Moving in and out of synchrony: A concept for a new intervention fostering empathy through interactional movement and dance
Behrends, A., Müller, S., Dziobek, I. – 2012
In this theoretical article, we link literature from different disciplines such as the neurosciences and psychology, dance/movement therapy, dance studies, and philosophy, in order to show that interactional, coordinated movement forms an important base for the development of empathy and prosocial behavior. The presented body of literature suggests that specific elements of joint movement and dance, namely imitation, synchronous movement and motoric cooperation, are suitable for fostering empathic abilities, especially in people with empathy deficits.In the second part of the article, we present a newly conceptualized dance and movement intervention for people with empathy dysfunction, tailored to its first application for people with autism spectrum disorders. Through enhancing and refining kinesthetic empathy skills, we hypothesize within an integrative concept of empathy, that both emotional and cognitive empathic processes such as empathic concern and perspective taking can be fostered. With a first treatment outcome study of the presented intervention that we will conduct in the near future with people on the autistic spectrum, we aim at evaluating the program and contributing to the understanding of dance and movement approaches for people with empathy deficits.