Previous studies have shown that experiences of childhood trauma disproportionally impact incarcerated youth and may decrease self-regulation skills including identification of emotions and ability to control behaviors.
Purpose: The current study aimed to investigate changes in emotional state identified by incarcerated youth after receiving sensory-based occupational therapy treatment.
Methods: A quasi-experimental retrospective chart review design was used in addition to surveys.
Results: Participants had an average ACE score of 5.91 traumatic experiences and at least three mental health diagnoses. Results showed a statistically significant change between pre-and post-session emotions via a Likert scale as well as a decrease in the frequency of negative words used to identify emotions. When surveyed, participants reported a calmer body state after occupational therapy and highlighted the importance of learning coping strategies.
Conclusion: Results suggest that sensory-based occupational therapy may be an effective, trauma-informed intervention to improve self-regulation and support daily function of these incarcerated youth.