Date of Award

Spring 5-18-2024

Document Type


Degree Name

MAE - Master of Arts in Expressive Therapies


Expressive Therapies


Meg H. Chang, EdD, BC-DMT, LCAT


Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder presents a unique challenge in healing due to the absence of a foundation of safety and self-regulation that results from repeated exposure to traumatic stress. This narrative literature review explores the current research on establishing this foundation as a crucial first step in complex PTSD treatment and examines how engaging in expressive arts therapy can foster self-regulation and create new, positive experiences for these clients. Drawing on clinical experience and neurobiological research, the author proposes a model conceptualizing self-regulation as an embodied, holistic process that results from left and right brain integration at multiple levels of internal neural communication and external perception and interaction. Examples from the literature demonstrate how expressive arts therapy can support this integration through sensory engagement, co-regulation, neural integration, and embodied resilience. The study highlights the potential of expressive arts therapy as a primary treatment modality for complex PTSD, offering significant benefits beyond its traditional role as an adjunctive therapy. The author concludes by calling for further research into the therapeutic value of community arts engagement for individuals with complex PTSD.

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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