Elise Risher

Interim Director, Dance/Movement Therapy Program

BA, Trinity College. MS, Hunter College. MA, PhD, Long Island University. Board-certified dance/movement therapist, licensed clinical psychologist. Twenty five years of clinical experience working in both psychiatric and community settings with infants, children, and adults. Taught at Mercy College, Westchester Community College, Long Island University, and The New School. Research interests include the impact of neurological disorders on time perception and the intersection of psychotherapy and Eastern philosophies. SLC, 2012

Graduate Courses

Dance/Movement Therapy 2017-2018

Graduate Thesis I


Each student in the Dance/Movement Therapy program is required to complete a thesis project. The thesis provides the opportunity to integrate theory from multiple disciplines, existing literature in dance/movement therapy and personal experience using research methods. This course will offer students the structure to apply what they have learned in the Research Methods course toward developing their own research project, with the goal of completing and submitting a research prospectus and outline. Group support, consultation and technical assistance will be provided in the class.


Graduate Thesis II


Group support, consultation and technical assistance will be provided for this class for students who will be working with their thesis advisors and second readers to complete the final thesis project and continue the work begun in Thesis I.


Human Growth and Development

Graduate Seminar—Fall

This course will outline the interrelationships between physiological, psychological, cognitive and socio-cultural factors and their effects on human growth, development and behavior. Students will gain a basic knowledge of brain development and neuroscience, as they relate to the theory and practice of dance/movement therapy.

The course covers selected theoretical and empirical contributions to the study of human development throughout the lifespan. The course considers the nature of psychological development in childhood and adolescence and pays attention to developmental implications for adulthood and old age. There is a careful analysis of developmental theories, with an emphasis on research findings and methods as reported in the current literature. We will also be examining writings on attachment and contemporary psychodynamic theory, which emphasize the importance of early experience. These theories offer a particular focus on early relationships and their role in shaping an individual’s ways of being and knowing, of regulating affect, and of developing and maintaining crucial ties to others throughout life. They also provide a framework for incorporating recent advances in the study of the brain. The overarching goal of the course is to provide students with a general understanding of the current state of knowledge in various areas of psychological development.



Graduate Seminar—Spring

This course is designed to provide students with a base of knowledge in psychopathology and to familiarize students with current conceptions and empirical findings in psychopathology research. Beginning with the question of how abnormality is defined, we will explore contemporary perspectives on psychopathology and focus more specifically on psychological disorders, their development and treatment, and controversies within the field. Additionally, this course will focus on the physiologic and motoric manifestations of illness, the role of dance/movement therapy in treatment, and challenges particular to dance/movement therapy intervention.

This course will use the current version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the DSM-5. Reading of the current manual will include discussion of recent changes and the impact on diagnostic understanding and treatment formulation.


Research Methods

Graduate Seminar—Spring

This course is an introduction to qualitative and quantitative research methodologies and techniques. Students will learn to apply research techniques such as data collection and analysis, both as researchers and to enhance clinical interpretation and practice skills.

We will explore issues around the importance of research to the field of dance/movement therapy, particular challenges and opportunities associated with dance/movement therapy research, and the history of research in the field. While this course will provide a base of knowledge for the practicing dance/movement therapist to interpret and evaluate research, the goal is to create not only consumers, but also creators, of research. As such, students will learn about the process of research design, including ethical and legal considerations, and will create their own research proposal.