Date of Award

2019

First Advisor

Jennifer Daniels

Second Advisor

Anne O'Dwyer

Abstract

Children are, far too often, the victims of traumatic stress, and childhood trauma has been found to be one of the leading causes of many physical, psychological, and behavioral problems during adolescence and adulthood. This project presents a review of two alternative therapeutic interventions––art and play therapy––for children who have experienced a psychological trauma, and explores how they may promote recovery via the lenses of psychological, emotional, neurobiological and cognitive development, physiological and neurological changes that occur during trauma, as well as the specific benefits that each therapy has to offer. Examples of the evidence for the efficacy of these treatments includes new research on brain development in childhood, the age-appropriate approaches of these therapies, and the centrality of sensations, emotions and images, rather than narrative and language, in both post-trauma experiences and these therapeutic approaches. This analysis concluded that art and play are both mediums that are developmentally accessible to children, and can be tailored to fit the needs of each child, and thus ought to be explored further in treatments for childhood trauma.

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