Date of Award

Spring 5-20-2023

Document Type


Degree Name

MAE - Master of Arts in Expressive Therapies


Expressive Therapies


Wendy Allen


In schools across the country students are being taught social-emotional skills through the use of the Second Step curriculum. Second Step is a universal curriculum which is sought to streamline social-emotional learning (SEL) and can be easily implemented within classrooms by classroom teachers. The curriculum implemented as it currently is does not allow for the creative expression of students to be utilized. Previous research has highlighted that in many cases Second Step curriculum proves to be ineffective in nature and lacks longevity or lasting impacts. Social-emotional learning is directly linked to children’s mental health, when children lack emotional literacy they are more likely to suffer from mental health related issues. Through a systematic literature review, the Second Step curriculum was analyzed and each unit of the curriculum was matched with arts-based interventions supported by peer-reviewed research which seek to achieve the same goal as the Second Step unit they were matched to. Creative expression through the use of the various expressive arts therapy modalities (music, dance and movement, drama, visual arts, etc.) seem to be a viable way to increase lasting effect and accessibility of the universally used Second Step social-emotional learning curriculum.

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