Date of Award

Spring 5-18-2024

Document Type


Degree Name

MAE - Master of Arts in Expressive Therapies


Expressive Therapies


Wendy Allen


This thesis looks at the potential benefits and cohesive experience of sensory exploration for children with multiple diagnoses through a trauma informed lens. The researcher was inspired by Prendiville’s (2021) idea of how interactive sensory exploration and art making can help foster and develop reciprocal communication and socio-affective relationships influenced the researcher to design a method that would be used to collect data about potential similar findings. In the method, the interaction of the sensory-specific art mediums were reflected through the expressive therapies continuum (ETC) framework. The research of this thesis acknowledges and explores how trauma and adverse childhood experiences may impact a child’s developmental capabilities through sensory-art explorations. Based on qualitative-arts-based research, data was collected through observations, impressions, self-reflective writing and art-making. The sensory-art explorations were offered with children ages nine through twelve in a therapeutic day school. The participants are children with various backgrounds, demonstrating social, emotional, and behavioral difficulties. Every week, for the duration of four months, the selected groups played with materials that explored four senses: tactile, visual, auditory, and olfactory. All materials and explorations were given through a trauma-informed lens. Many therapeutic benefits were observed and cohesion grew over the length of the intervention. The therapeutic benefits observed included deep breathing, kinesthetic release, improved communication, and increased happiness.

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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