Download Full Text (729 KB)


Adolescent survivors of sex trafficking (SST) are susceptible to being in a continual dysregulated arousal state due to a lack of mastery in self-regulation. During the trafficking experience, many adolescent SST experience severe trauma and are deprived of opportunities that foster essential regulatory capacities needed for occupational engagement. The use of sensory-based approaches that focus on addressing arousal dysregulation and the impact it has on occupation is an evidence-based practice grounded in occupational therapy research.

This capstone sought to support community reintegration for adolescent SST through the development of sensory-based programming that fosters self-regulation, a skill necessary for lifelong occupational participation. A needs assessment at a short term residential therapeutic program identified that challenges in self-regulation had a negative impact on sleep, education, feeding, leisure, and social participation. Program development targeted the establishment of meaningful sensory and occupation-based routines that focus on regulating arousal levels. Through empowering survivors to establish routines that foster self-regulation, this program lays a foundation for lifelong occupational participation.

Publication Date



University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences

Medical Subject Headings

Human Trafficking, Adolescent, Survivors, Occupational Therapy, Emotional Regulation, Self-Control


Clinical Psychology | Occupational Therapy | Psychiatry and Psychology


Poster presented at the Fall 2020 Virtual OTD Capstone Symposium, held online at the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences on December 11, 2020.

Self-Regulation for Adolescent Survivors of Sex Trafficking: An Occupational Therapist’s Perspective