Date of Award

Spring 5-18-2019

Document Type


Degree Name

MA - Master of Arts


Expressive Therapies


Rebecca Zarate


Treatment of sexualized problematic behaviors (SPB) in children and adolescents is a clinically significant issue that has little research to support the fundamental need for treatment. Sexualized problematic behaviors (SPB) can be an indication of a child’s own complex trauma and sexual abuse history. Using a relational, trauma-informed, and developmental approach to treatment in combination with art therapy, children demonstrating SPB can learn how to better express themselves, respect themselves and others, and heal a fragmented sense of self. Developmentally, these children and adolescents are in the stage where identity formation is the main task. Therefore, this series of art therapy groups focused on this. These identity-focused art therapy groups were intended to build self-esteem and allow the boys to regard themselves in a positive light. Art therapy can aid in the expression of difficult emotions and can enhance emotional expression through creativity, rather than using words. A significant aspect of healing and recovery from trauma involves “the active exercise of imagination and fantasy,” which art therapy supports (Herman, 2015, p. 202). A developmental approach to art therapy was used in this case, and yielded encouraging and surprising results. Findings from this study suggest that throughout the three art therapy groups, the boys not only gained a better sense of who they are, but they were also able to value themselves by being unconditionally accepted through the relationships formed with myself and my female co-clinician.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.




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