Date of Award

Spring 5-18-2024

Document Type


Degree Name

MAE - Master of Arts in Expressive Therapies


Expressive Therapies


Raquel Stephenson


struggling with substance abuse often have complex post-traumatic stress disorder (CPTSD) and seek altered states beyond the mundane via substances. What if expressive art therapies and ancient spiritual practices creating trance states could meet this need to alter states, while healing CPTSD symptoms by developing self-awareness, affect regulation, and reprogramming the subconscious mind through imaginal realm parts work? This capstone thesis explores this using yogic philosophy, shamanic drumming, Himalayan singing bowls, aboriginal grief rituals, and expressive art therapies rooted in transcendental theater, bilateral stimulation, and natural materials like clay therapy. A methodology combining ancient wisdom, arts, and modern psychological theory was developed to induce trance states to heal substance abuse and CPTSD symptoms. Drawing from Jungian psychology, the Expressive Therapies Continuum (ETC), polyvagal theory, and transpersonal concepts of entrainment, embodiment, and attunement, along with techniques like parts work, meditation, journaling, creative art therapies, and somatic healing, this study involved 6 adult participants in a Los Angeles IOP dual diagnosis treatment center. Over 7 sessions themed by natural elements and corresponding altered states, clients journeyed through self-made trance states, learning self-regulation and co-regulation, and developing new expression and processing tools. Clients favored the experiential approach with minimal verbal processing and enjoyed hands-on, relaxing exercises. My facilitator confidence enhanced participant self-trust as they entrained to me, making the work more impactful. These practices aimed to address CPTSD symptoms in a fun yet profound way, offering a new approach to a misunderstood diagnosis.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

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