An emerging evidence base, and increased awareness of the effects of trauma on the body, advocates a sensory-based approach to treatment with posttraumatic stress and…
An emerging evidence base, and increased awareness of the effects of trauma on the body, advocates a sensory-based approach to treatment with posttraumatic stress and complex trauma survivors. This paper aims to identify, analyse and summarise the empirical evidence for the sensory-based interventions, which occupational therapists are using in the treatment of adult and adolescent trauma survivors.
An integrative review of the literature was undertaken. Both empirical and conceptual papers were included. An inductive approach and constant comparative method were used to understand and synthesise the research.
The literature search yielded 18 papers describing the types of sensory-based interventions used, sensory processing (SP) patterns and the context and evidence for sensory-based occupational therapy practice with trauma survivors. Nine of the studies were empirical and nine were conceptual and review papers. Themes identified included: atypical SP patterns; type of sensory-based intervention used with trauma survivors; and transdisciplinary treatment programmes can reduce the symptoms of trauma.
Sensory-based interventions with adult and adolescent trauma survivors are emerging as promising areas of practice and research in the literature. Although empirical data is limited, the sensory needs of the body in processing trauma experiences is becoming more recognised and are supported by the atypical SP patterns identified in survivors. A sensory-based, transdisciplinary approach to treatment has the potential to be effective in treating the trauma survivor.
With a skill base in sensory integration and occupational analysis, occupational therapists have much to offer the field of trauma studies. This review begins to address the gap in the literature, recommending more rigorous controlled outcome research with larger sample sizes, person-centred studies focussing on the trauma survivor’s perspective and continuing professional development and mentorship for occupational therapists working with this population.