Date of Paper/Work


Type of Paper/Work


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Occupational Therapy


Occupational Science/Occupational Therapy

First Advisor

Kristi Haertl, Ph.D., OTR/L, FAOTA


Occupational Therapy


This study was part of a larger mixed methods design exploring the effects of a dance program on elders. The purpose of this research was to examine the impact of a creative arts- based program on the health, wellness, and overall quality of life of older adults. Another aspect of the study involved determining how the staff’s “therapeutic use of self” contributed to the positive outcomes of the creative music and dance program called “The Dancing Heart TM ”. The research questions were, “What is the importance of a creative dance program for long term care residents?” and “What is happening in the group that contributes to its outcomes?”. This study involved both an analysis of behaviors recorded in observation notes by program staff and an analysis of field notes taken by this researcher. Results indicated that participation in the sessions encouraged increased physicality, mood, creativity, cognitive engagement, musical involvement, reminiscence/memory involvement, interpersonal interactions, and overall had positive impact on quality of life. In regard to the second research question, results suggest that the staff utilized therapeutic use of self and many tools to maximize the level of engagement and participation for the participants. The results of this study suggest that participation in a creative-arts program for seniors has the potential to positively impact quality of life for seniors.