Date of Award

Spring 5-18-2019

Document Type


Degree Name

MAE - Master of Arts in Expressive Therapies


Expressive Therapies


Michelle Napoli


This capstone project explores the combination of Sensory Motor Arousal Regulation Treatment (SMART) and therapeutic songwriting for the treatment of adolescents with complex developmental trauma in a therapeutic boarding school to strengthen attachment, regulation, and competency. As an inherently sensory experience, Music Therapy and SMART can work as a strengths-based approach that engages both body and brain to move clients through traumatic memories. As the literature states, since trauma effects the whole individual, it is crucial to engage both brain and body in trauma treatment to move through it, rather than only addressing mental aspects of trauma through strictly verbal processing. In grounding music therapy in SMART work and body rhythms, the trauma processing becomes more contained, the client’s central nervous system is more regulated, and thus the client is involved in a less threatening experience. While the data recording method proved to be challenging and in need of further development, utilizing SMART-supplemented music therapy was observed as a valuable way of rebuilding positive self-identity and creating positive new responses to trauma through regulating attachment to the music therapist.

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




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