Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Study Shows 'Dancing Well' Program for Veterans with PTSD Improves Mental Health

A new study finds that a program based in Louisville, Kentucky is having a positive impact on military veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. 

The results published in the Journal of Veterans Studiesshow that veterans with PTSD and Traumatic Brain Injury report an improved psychological outlook after participating in ‘Dancing Well: The Soldier Project.’ 

Dance educator Deborah Denenfeld offered the first version of the program in 2010 at the suggestion of a psychiatrist at Fort Knox, who thought it might help improve memory in veterans with these combat-related issues.

In 2014 Denenfeld launched the 10-week version Dancing Well in Louisville. It's essentially a community barn dance, slowed down and adapted to the physical and emotional comfort levels of this particular group of veterans.

The study was done by Western Connecticut State University psychology professor Robin Gustafson, and a team that included Denenfeld and University of Louisville biology professor Cynthia Corbitt.

Gustafson said the findings show “great promise in treating some of the most persistent symptoms of PTSD in veterans.”

Chronic anxiety and isolation can lead to depression and thougts of suicide, and military personnel returning from combat, who suffer from PTSD or traumatic brain injury, can find these issues make it challenging to be reintegrated into the community. 

Seventeen veterans who participated in the 10-week study reported a reduction in isolation and stress, as well as an increase in optimism.

A group of participants at 'Dancing Well: The Soldier Project' in Louisville.
Dancing Well /
A group of participants at 'Dancing Well: The Soldier Project' in Louisville.

Copyright 2019 WKU Public Radio

Rhonda Miller began as reporter and host for All Things Considered on WKU Public Radio in 2015. She has worked as Gulf Coast reporter for Mississippi Public Broadcasting, where she won Associated Press, Edward R. Murrow and Green Eyeshade awards for stories on dead sea turtles, health and legal issues arising from the 2010 BP oil spill and homeless veterans. She has worked at Rhode Island Public Radio, as an intern at WVTF Public Radio in Roanoke, Virginia, and at the South Florida Sun-Sentinel and Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Rhonda’s freelance work called Writing Into Sound includes stories for Voice of America, WSHU Public Radio in Fairfield, Conn., NPR and AARP Prime Time Radio. She has a master’s degree in media studies from Rhode Island College and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Rhonda enjoys quiet water kayaking, riding her bicycle and folk music. She was a volunteer DJ for Root-N-Branch at WUMD community radio in Dartmouth, Mass.