Date of Award


Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Master of Occupational Therapy (MOT)


Occupational Therapy

First Advisor

Sonia Zimmerman


Adolescent; Child; Occupational Therapy -- methods; Stress, Psychological -- therapy


Every year many children and adolescents are affected by traumatic experience many of which result in long term challenges. The traumatic event may lead to psychological disorders, such as anxiety disorders, depression, oppositional defiant disorder, conduct disorder, substance abuse, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). These disorders often have the effect of interrupting development of occupational performance skills and ultimately are manifested in deficits in occupational performance. A literature review was conducted to identify the effects of trauma on children and adolescents as well as to explore current treatment programming available to this population. Examples of research-based occupational therapy programming for traumatized children and adolescents was reviewed.

An occupational therapy program is presented, including guidelines for therapists working with children and adolescents exposed to trauma. In addition, the program addresses the impact of the traumatic event on occupational performance, behaviors resulting from the traumatic event, and other long term occupational challenges. Within the context of developing and/or optimizing occupational performance skills, the program aims to (a) prevent further psychological problems, (b) establish skills to cope with the trauma, (c) alter social contexts to represent positive influences, (d) modify present performance barriers, and (e) create a safe environment that promotes trust and open communication. The referral process, suggested assessments, interventions, and outcome measures are presented and demonstrate application of the Ecological Model of Human Performance to practice with children and adolescents exposed to trauma.