Date of Award

Spring 5-16-2020

Document Type


Degree Name

MA - Master of Arts


Expressive Therapies


Annette Whitehead-Pleaux, MA, MT-BC


People diagnosed with an intellectual disability (ID) are at a substantially higher risk of experiencing trauma than typically abled individuals. In addition, the nature of ID makes it especially difficult to cope and access treatment. The goal of this research was to examine how expressive arts therapy can support treating this population for trauma. Information was gathered on Trauma-Informed Care, Psychodrama, Drama Therapy, Interactive Behavioral Therapy, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, and The Storytelling Method. This investigation led to a community engagement project between August 2019-February 2020 that involved the researcher meeting one-on-one with nine individuals diagnosed with ID. A variety of expressive arts therapy interventions were used to prime their stories for a performance series that would take place at the end of the engagement. Each client had a significant trauma history and the researcher’s goal was to use the expressive arts to cultivate emotional regulation, positive self-concept, and improved self-esteem. Each performer attended sessions regularly and prepared fully realized pieces that were performed to sold-out audiences over the course of three nights. These findings implicate that trauma treatment for this population is crucial and possible through the expressive therapies.

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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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