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Mind-Body and Movement Research for the Whole-Person Health Lab

The Mind-Body & Movement Research for Whole-Person Health Lab is an incubator for research that studies and promotes mind-body health, creative/expressive arts and healing, and whole-person integrated care.

The mission of our lab is to further the integration of mind-body medicine and creative arts-based interventions into the mainstream healthcare system by means of rigorous, evidence-based research and clinical application of this work. Our vision encompasses a drive to develop heightened interprofessional collaboration across academic disciplines as well as clinical and community interests.

Principal Investigator

Minjung Shim, PhD

Minjung Shim, PhD, BC-DMT
Assistant Research Professor - Dance/Movement Therapy and Counseling

Health Sciences Building, Room 11W20
60 N. 36th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104

Phone: 267.359.5592


Google Scholar

Mindfulness-based Dance/Movement Therapy for Chronic Low Back Pain

Chronic low-back pain (cLBP) is a major public health problem worldwide and the second leading cause of disability among U.S. adults. Due to the limited effectiveness and undesirable side effects of conventional pain management protocols, there is a growing use of complementary and integrative pain management approaches, including mindfulness-based interventions and arts-based interventions. However, there is a dearth of research to support the efficacy of these treatments for the management of cLBP, in part due to the absence of manualized protocols and methodologically sound randomized controlled trials (RCT).

The purpose of this study is to evaluate the feasibility, acceptability and credibility of a mindfulness-based dance/movement therapy (M-DMT) protocol; to assess and improve methodological procedures for conducting a RCT test of M-DMT; and to demonstrate proof of principle by gathering information about the process of change between M-DMT and a control condition. This is the first study to address the potential of M-DMT as a creative, non-opioid intervention for chronic back pain. Therefore, the findings of this study will provide important methodological and protocol data and substantive pilot data necessary for the next phase of this line of research, namely a fully powered RCT to evaluate efficacy and treatment mechanisms of action. Data obtained as part of this study will be instrumental for informing the systematic evaluation of M-DMT for chronic back pain care.

For more information:

A Scoping Review of Mindfulness-Based Interventions for Patients with Dementia and Caregivers

The aim of this study is to systematically review the quality and efficacy of the current evidence for mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) in patients with dementia (PwD) and their caregivers.


Nicole Musalo, BS, is a clinical research coordinator for a research project in Shim’s lab on Mindfulness Based Dance/Movement Therapy and Chronic Low Back Pain. She is a certified 500hr yoga instructor with a bachelor's degree in Psychological and Brain Sciences from Stony Brook University who is most interested in expressive/creative arts and mindfulness-based therapies for whole person wellness.

Doctoral Students:

Nalini Prakash, MA, BC, DMT, CMA is a board-certified dance/movement therapist with experience in mental health and the criminal justice system. A classical Indian dancer, Prakash integrates elements of Indian dance and creative movement to help individuals express their emotions in a non-threatening way. As a certified movement analyst, she has worked to reduce violence and resolve conflict, while fostering social change among a forensic population. Prakash is currently a PhD candidate and a research fellow within the creative arts therapies graduate program at Drexel University. Her research interest includes the use of dance/movement therapy to increase empathy and reduce violence in middle school children. Prakash is a research fellow and PhD student in Creative Arts Therapies Department.

Monica Gaydos, MA, R-DMT, RYT is a research fellow and PhD student in Creative Arts Therapies. Gaydos received her MA in Dance Movement Psychotherapy at the University of London in 2011. She has worked in inpatient psychiatric settings, schools and nursing homes, and designed and taught her own program of expressive movement classes for adults in Pittsburgh, PA from 2012-2018. Gaydos specializes in content knowledge on substance use disorder, opioid use disorder and overdose prevention. Her current research interests include the use of dance movement therapy for patients with chronic pain and preventive health care.

Master's Students:

Louis Susca, BS, is a candidate for a Master’s in Medical Science here at Drexel. He obtained a Bachelor’s Degree at Stony Brook University where he focused on neuroscience in the realms of Traumatic Brain Injury, neurogenesis, and Parkinson’s disease. Susca’s specific interest is how movement can act to both positively affect cell growth in the brain and act as a neuroprotective element for neurodegenerative disease.

Intervention Facilitators:

Natasha Levitas, MA, BC-DMT is a board certified dance/movement therapist specializing in senior and dementia care, with 19 years of experience working with older individuals across various backgrounds. Her professional history includes healthcare administration; therapeutic program development; care partner training, DMT clinical supervision, and regular DMT facilitation, using a DMT and sensory hybrid approach. She is also a published author on DMT in senior and dementia care. Levitas is the interventionist for the Mindfulness-Based Dance/Movement Therapy for Chronic Lower Back Pain study.

Internal Collaborators:

  • Joke Bradt, PhD, MT-BC, Professor, Department of Creative Arts Therapies
  • Sherry Goodill, PhD, BC-DMT, LPC, NCC, Clinical Professor, Department of Creative Arts Therapies
  • Stella Volpe, PhD, RN, LDN, FACSM, Professor, Chair, Department of Nutrition Science
  • Sarah Wenger, PT, DPT, OCS, Associate Clinical Professor, Department of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences
  • Fengqing Zhang, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences
  • Arun Ramakrishnan, PhD, Director of Research Lab, College of Nursing and Health Professions
  • Longian Liu, MD, PhD, FAHA, Associate Professor, Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics
  • Lindsay Edwards, MA, LPC, Director of Creative Arts Therapies at the Stephen and Sandra Scheller 11th Street Family Health Services

External Collaborators:

  • Adam Gonzalez, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health, Director, Mind-Body Clinical Research Center, Stony Brook University
  • Sheri Silfies, PhD, PT, Associate Professor, Department of Physical Therapy, University of South Carolina
  • Christina Psaros, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, Harvard University