Date of Award


Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Master of Occupational Therapy (MOT)


Occupational Therapy

First Advisor

Roberta Carrlson


Child; Child Abuse -- therapy; Foster Home Care; Occupational Therapy -- methods; Psychological Trauma -- complications; Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic -- therapy


The purpose of this scholarly project was to create a guide for trauma-informed interventions for occupational therapists specifically to use with foster care children. Currently, there are approximately 600,000 children living in foster care in the United States (Child Welfare League of America, 2015). Children in the foster system who have experienced or witnessed violent actions often demonstrate post-traumatic stress like symptoms and diagnoses. Often times these experiences affect their development, coping skills, emotional regulation, and relationships and attachments (Lynch et al., 2017; Deutsch et al., 2015; Heim et al., 2010). It is estimated that between 40% and 60% of children in the foster care system have been diagnosed with at least one psychiatric disorder and approximately 33% of foster care children have three or more psychiatric diagnoses (Paul-Ward & Lambdin-Pattavina, 2016). Due to their traumatic experiences and subsequent diagnoses, children in foster care often have complex mental health needs (Simms, Dubowitz, & Szilagyi, 2000; Deutsch et al., 2015).

A literature review was conducted in order to identify the need to address trauma’s effects and its impact on occupational performance and engagement in various environments. The authors utilized research articles, textbooks, and resources from the American Occupational Therapy Association and other reliable databases. The Ecology of Human Performance model (EHP) was used as the framework in guiding the development of this guide.

Our guide, A Guide for Occupational Therapists: Utilizing Trauma-Informed Care to Guide Intervention for Children in Foster Care, was organized by the various aspects of the EHP model. The guide begins with operational definitions, followed by background information, assessments for occupational therapists to use, and trauma-informed interventions that can be utilized by occupational therapists based off of the EHP model.