Graduation Year

2011

Abstract

The purpose of the present study was to evaluate the effectiveness of a sensorimotor intervention with children who have experienced complex trauma. In the United States, millions of children are exposed to traumatic events each year, and thousands develop subsequent psychological disorders (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2008). Researchers and clinicians are now categorizing these disorders as traumatic stress-related disorders or Developmental Trauma Disorder (Courtois & Ford, 2009), particularly when there is an interpersonal component (e.g. abuse or neglect by caregivers). Unfortunately, there is a dearth of evidence-based information available on effective treatment for complex trauma in children (Malchiodi, 2008). This study focused on incorporating principles from the Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics (Perry, 2009, 2006) as well as a sensory integration intervention into an effective treatment for children. Both interventions focused on increasing attunement to the self and to others while providing the brain with the stimulation that it needs to develop. The intervention took place at the Residential Treatment Center (RTC) at The Baby Fold in Normal, Illinois. The RTC is an inpatient treatment center for children with severe emotional and behavioral problems, which are typically related to early, chronic traumatic experiences. The intervention took place in the form of specialized activity groups. We hypothesized a decrease in the frequency of problematic behaviors and an increase in positive, pro-social behaviors for children receiving the treatment compared to a control group that did not receive the specialized activity groups. As predicted, our results indicated a significant decrease in some problematic behaviors in the treatment group, but there was no change in positive behaviors.

Disciplines

Psychology

Included in

Psychology Commons

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