Date of Award

Spring 5-22-2021

Document Type


Degree Name

MA - Master of Arts


Expressive Therapies


Raquel Stephenson


The focus on the use of healing touch and body awareness in art therapy is critically lacking. Despite the research supporting the use of body-oriented techniques in clinical therapy, there is little research related to this use specifically in art therapy. Research reveals that healing touch and body awareness can be instrumental in healing trauma, if done with the proper training and boundaries in place. The first form of attachment and comfort for children is that of touch. Therefore, it is imperative to acknowledge the power of touch and body awareness when healing from traumatic experiences. The purpose of this literature review is to explore some of the reasons as to why this disconnect exists in westernized art therapy, and to begin to build a bridge between psyche and soma in the clinical art therapy setting. Through multiple avenues of literature, the use of touch and body awareness to inform art therapy treatment was found to be highly effective at engaging with suppressed traumatic experiences and in supporting the healing from said experiences. This literature review aims to present relevant research on the history of touch and body awareness, the neurobiology of trauma and trauma healing, additional bodyoriented techniques, the body-based aspects of art therapy, and specific body-focused art therapy directives.

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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