DMT Alumna Accepts Fulbright Grant to Germany
August 13, 2021
Kerrylyn Kercher, DMT ’21, has accepted a merit-based Fulbright U.S. Student Program grant from the U.S. Department of State and the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board. The grant allows Kercher to spend 8-10 months engaged in research and academic studies related to Dance/Movement Therapy (DMT) at two facilities in Germany.
At the Creative Arts Therapies Research Institute, she helps to develop projects alongside current graduate students. “While I already hold a master's degree in this field from Drexel, I know that growing and expanding my knowledge and understanding regarding such body-based practices will remain a priority for the rest of my career, and this is only the beginning. I hope that being a part of current research and educational approaches within the international community will help to solidify my personal theoretical approach and spark further interest in creative arts therapy research.”
One particular focus will be a tri-cyclic arts project investigating the topic of trauma as it relates to bodily experiences. This is closely related to Kercher’s current research, under the leadership of Minjung Shim, PhD, assistant research professor and principle investigator, regarding non-medicinal ways to approach treatment for chronic lower back pain. “The Research Institute in Alfter, Germany, where I will be for some of my time, is at the forefront of research related to the creative arts therapies, aiding in the expansion of studies conducted that look into the specific therapeutic factors of DMT. Since it’s a relatively new psychotherapeutic approach, at least in the United States, any and all research happening can be considered imperative in solidifying DMT as an evidence-based approach in the mental health field,” Kercher explained.
At the SRH University of Heidelberg, she will observe how American and German dance/movement therapy studies differ and utilize culturally different perceptions of the work. She will audit classes such as neurology and quantitative research methods, movement observation and analysis, clinical psychology and body therapy applications.
In addition, Kercher will offer community movement classes. “These classes will be for movers and non-movers alike, bridging my love for teaching dance and my passion for helping others,” she said. “I believe that these classes, led by the community and their wants/needs, are the true cultural exchange I am hoping for. The arts have such a way of connecting people to one another and I look forward to using my new therapeutic lens in the process.”
Kercher is very appreciative to the CAT department, specifically Christina Devereaux, PhD, associate clinical professor and program director for Dance/Movement Therapy & Counseling, for helping to create the initial connections with the university in Germany. Additionally, Sherry Goodill, PhD, chair of the CAT department, will be teaching a select number of classes on specific DMT topics at the university where she will be situated for her time abroad. “It has occurred to me through this process how small the creative arts therapies community really is and I feel grateful to be a part of it!” she said.
She noted she is very thankful to the fellowships office, specifically Kelly Weissberger, and her Fulbright advisory team at Drexel, Abioseh Porter, Kristy Kelly and Benjamin Barnett, all of whom played a role in providing support and feedback regarding her Fulbright application. “I fully believe their support allowed me this wonderful opportunity, and for that I am forever grateful. Receiving this award is an absolute privilege. This grant provides me an opportunity to experience a new culture and all that encompasses it through the lens of research and study.”