Date of Award

Spring 5-22-2021

Document Type


Degree Name

MA - Master of Arts


Expressive Therapies


Dr. Kelvin Ramirez, PhD., ATR-BC, LCAT


In the treatment of complex childhood trauma, emotion regulation is a foundational component in the healing process. It is accepted in the acute inpatient setting that a highly structured, evidence-based approach targets specific needs of the traumatized child. Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is a model gaining popularity at the inpatient level of care for this reason. Art therapy has been introduced in adjunct to engage the sensory and developmental needs of the traumatized child in this setting, yet there is a lack of research of the inclusion of DBT-informed art therapy. Some phenomenological research has been conducted on the efficacy of DBT-informed art therapy in trauma treatment, but little research has focused on art as the tool in DBT targeting specifics of emotion regulation in the traumatized child. The available literature provides insight into the usefulness of integrating these two approaches in order to promote skill-building and retention, develop insight, and ultimately accept experiences and change maladaptive behaviors. To contribute to research on DBT-art therapy with traumatized children, this writer has created a long-term art therapy intervention informed by the emotion regulation module of DBT while working with a traumatized child in the acute residential setting. Over three sessions, the participant designed and built a three-dimensional plush monster representing anger. This writer’s personal notes, art making and reflections along with client reflections and self-report suggest there are significant benefits in integrating DBT and art therapy to address emotion regulation that should be explored further.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.




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