Date of Award

Spring 5-18-2025

Document Type


Degree Name

MA - Master of Arts


Expressive Therapies


Raquel Chapin Stephenson


In the past ten years, there has been a significant rise in the number of asylum seekers and refugee populations worldwide (UNHCR, 2022). Displaced individuals are extremely vulnerable to mental illness because of the compounded trauma experienced in their countries of origin with the stress of immigration, asylum seeking, culture shock, and language barriers. PTSD is affecting 500 million individuals globally, and refugees are especially susceptible to having these symptoms (Farrell, 2020). Art therapy and EMDR are identified as the most promising modalities for treating such trauma.

This literature review examines the various ways EMDR and art therapy have been applied to treating trauma and PTSD for refugees and asylum seekers. Topics such as efficacy, cultural competency, versatility, cost-effectiveness, and ability to accommodate displaced individuals with diverse psychological needs are explored, as well as how EMDR and art therapy can help with memory restoration and healing complex trauma and PTSD.

The review concludes that for displaced populations there have not been enough robust studies conducted to affirm these practices as evidence-based. Most studies lack sufficient sample sizes, do not identify PTSD according to DSM, and do not use proper randomization. Among other important criteria, long-term follow-ups are rarely conducted (Farrell, 2020). However the paper argues that there is indeed enough evidence to invest significant efforts into further research of these modalities specifically for refugee populations.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.




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