Date of Award

Spring April 2013

Access Restriction

Campus Access only Research Projects

Degree Name

Master of Arts


Marital and Family Therapy

School or College

College of Communication and Fine Arts

First Advisor

Paige Asawa


This research explores the therapeutic characteristics of the art‟s sensory properties in art therapy treatment for children with developmental trauma. The researcher used interview as a method for gathering data in the qualitative research design. Two art therapists were interviewed individually in order to gain a deeper understanding about the research topic. The participants were selected based on their knowledge and practice utilizing art therapy in cases related to developmental trauma. The data gathered were coded and analyzed for emergent findings. The researcher finds that sensory-based art therapy facilitates regulation of affect and behavior, attachment repair, and the potential to process trauma memory through regression in the art. Also, the therapist‟s role as a witness for the client and a provider of a safe holding space is found to be a crucial component in sensory-based art therapy. These findings suggest implications for clinical practice and the careful construction of sensory-based art therapy according to the client‟s developmental age. Regression stimulated by loose art media may be a key component of trauma treatment. In order to regulate a child‟s affect and behavior, the art material and its quantity must be carefully selected based on its inherent sensory properties. Containment and attachment repair as the overarching goals of the art therapy treatment may also influence the selection of which art materials may be utilized. The researcher recommends a broader research study to explore treatment implications concerning sensory-based art interventions for children with developmental trauma.