Date of Award

Spring 5-22-2021

Document Type


Degree Name

MA - Master of Arts


Expressive Therapies


Laura Wood


Autonomic nervous system dysregulation is commonly experienced in adults who have experienced trauma and underlies several symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Though established treatments for PTSD have a strong evidence base, they can increase dysregulation during treatment, leading to high drop-out rates. Somatic experiencing (SE) and expressive arts therapy (ExAT) are two emerging methods that support autonomic regulation in trauma treatment. This literature review provides an overview of the use of SE and ExAT in trauma treatment with adults and describes concepts and techniques from SE and ExAT that are used to support regulation during treatment. Several shared concepts emerged when reviewing the techniques used in these methods, including the window of tolerance/resilient zone; titration and pendulation; the use of social engagement; the use of positive interoceptive, sensory, and kinesthetic experiences; and utilizing resources. This literature review provides recommendations for how SE and ExAT could be integrated to support regulation in trauma treatment with adults, including through the creation of a combined SE/ExAT treatment model.

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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