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Trauma-Informed Programming: Occupation-based Groups for Adolescent Sex Trafficking Survivors

1 January 2015


Human trafficking is a global epidemic that causes an array of psychosocial disorders that severely impact occupational performance (Hossain, Zimmerman, Abas, Light, & Watts, 2010). Trauma can change the fundamental way an individual engages with their environment and occupation (Perry, Pollard, Blaicley, Baker, & Vigilante, 1995).

Following occupational therapy evaluation, a need was identified to apply a theoretical foundation and group structure for artists. Using the Person-Environment-Occupation Model (Law et al., 1996) and Trauma-Informed approach (SAMHSA, 2014), groups were created to improve emotional regulation and executive functioning skills.

Groups were designed and implemented with trafficked youth in a transitional home. A program manual was provided for future artist training. Program director reported positive participant feedback to inform development of the project.

Adequate, trauma-informed support and training for direct service providers may improve participant engagement in occupation over time. Further longitudinal research is necessary to address outcomes of arts-based intervention strategies.


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