The mother-adolescent daughter relationship as embodied in joint dancing

Einat Shuper Engelhard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Relations between adolescent girls and their mothers are influenced by the emotional fluctuations during adolescence; they affect the consolidation of identity and separation; and, can be a source of tension and frustration. Though these topics are important, there is no observational tool with which to examine the implicit, non-verbal, aspects of the relationship between mothers and their adolescent daughters. Using a qualitative-phenomenological paradigm, the aim of this study was to examine the way in which developmental processes in adolescence are embodied in the non-verbal communication between mothers and adolescent girls. Eighteen pairs of mothers and daughters aged 12–15 (n = 36) in Israel were filmed during joint free movement, and participated in a semi-structured interview. An interpretive-phenomenological thematic analysis was conducted in which three themes were revealed: movement that embodied parenting style (“far, yet close,” “absent presence”/”invasiveness”); reconnection – ways to regain closeness following detachment through the body; and, the significance of embodied knowledge with respect to sexuality and power in relations. The findings extend our understanding of the non-verbal dynamics between mothers and their daughters and their impact on individuation processes, the daughter's behavior in the relationship, and on her sense of comfort with her own body.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101728
JournalArts in Psychotherapy
StatePublished - Feb 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020


  • Dance movement therapy
  • Embodied
  • Individuation
  • Mother-adolescent daughter
  • Relationship


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