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There is a growing need for an expanded understanding of the experience of trauma in light of many socio-political and cultural events of the previous years. Occupational therapy literature mentions a growing understanding of neuroscience that is leading to trauma-informed protocol reform, however, consistently concludes with the acknowledgment that more information is needed. The purpose of this project was to advocate for occupation as a significant tool in addressing traumatic stress. This project included a scoping review of non-peer-reviewed and peer-reviewed literature and manuscripts as well as a phenomenological qualitative research study interviewing occupational therapy practitioners who work with individuals who have experienced trauma. Preliminary results revealed four major themes, first, the significance of occupation for individuals who have experienced trauma is currently underrepresented/underexplored. Second, therapists and staff members often make judgments during interventions that reveal an incomplete understanding of how to identify a trauma response. Third, there is a need for a universal approach to all therapeutic interactions that acknowledge the ubiquitousness and pervasiveness of trauma. Finally, the neurobiology of trauma is a central component of occupational engagement. Results reveal that understanding how neurobiological mechanisms are involved in the therapeutic process will inform better trauma-informed practice for occupational therapists.

Publication Date



University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences


occupational therapy, trauma-informed care, neurobiology, knowledge translation

Medical Subject Headings

Occupational therapy, Trauma - Psychological, Neurobiology, Patient Education as Topic


Mental and Social Health | Occupational Therapy | Psychiatry and Psychology | Rehabilitation and Therapy


Poster presented at the Virtual OTD Capstone Symposium held online at the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences April 12-14, 2022

Translating Neurobiological Knowledge into Trauma-Informed Occupational Therapy