Date of Award

Spring 5-20-2023

Document Type


Degree Name

MA - Master of Arts


Expressive Therapies


Raquel Chapin Stephenson


Despite modern society's advancements and relearning of societal norms toward addressing racism. The continuation of injustice and social disadvantages is upheld by systemic and institutional racism, which can be subtle and aversive. If left untreated, the racial experiences manifest into racial trauma with the same diagnostic symptoms as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. This research will examine the literature on the biological effect of trauma on the mind and body. Moreover, looking at how unprocessed racial trauma can be inherited through generations and shrinking tolerance to manage traumatic symptoms thus distorts identity development—resulting in weaker protective factors and instability when faced with future encounters with race-based trauma. Due to the similar effect between race-based trauma and other traumatic experience, the research reviews literature about how sensorimotor and art therapy are effective treatment modalities to help reconsolidate the traumatic events and complete the traumatic response in the nervous system to make sense of self to the event to foster strengthened identity. This paper highlights the Expressive Therapies Continuum Framework to integrate physical, emotional, and cognitive selves to process trauma. This literature review reveals how applying the ETC can form a container against racial triggers using culturally affirming materials and cultivate a safe space for expressing and exploring identity development. Reflective artmaking is utilized to process the learning from the research. This literature review intends to bring awareness to racial trauma in the expressive therapy field, the intersection of the role of racism on identity development, and the potential of the ETC to be a tool for exploring racial issues and the celebration of self.

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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