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The Application of Art Therapy Trauma Protocol (ATTP) for a Traumatized Senior Open Access

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Objective: Bilateral art therapy has been shown to promote sensory awareness, which may contribute to emotional regulation. By activating and integrating both right and left brain processes through bilateral stimulation, it is possible to acknowledge internal disturbance, process traumatic memory, integrate polarized self-representation, and regulate sensory imprints. Those who are aging and struggling with trauma might benefit from the bilateral art intervention as it provides an opportunity to integrate past experiences and facilitate the culmination of psychological growth, which is a primary psychosocial task for the elderly. Method: This qualitative case study explored the therapeutic potential of an Art Therapy Trauma Protocol (ATTP) on an elderly who has endured trauma. The ATTP was used to provide a structured bilateral art therapy protocol. The participant was offered tempera paints to complete the protocol. Over four sessions, the participant created images based on her emotions and self-perception by using both her dominant and non-dominant hands. A pre- and post- intervention using the Difficulties in Emotion Regulation Scale was performed to measure the participants' level of emotional regulation. Findings: The participant showed an enhanced level of emotional regulation as she accessed her traumatic memories, acknowledged unidentified internal disturbance, and shifted her self-perception from a victim to a survivor. The result of pre-and-post DERS subscale scores showed that the participant was more able to aware and clarify, control impulsive behaviors, engage in goal-directive behavior, accept negative emotional experience, and access to emotion regulation strategies after four sessions of ATTP intervention. Thematic analysis revealed four themes: exploration of repressed emotions, reminiscent of traumatic experience, polarization and integration, and internal resiliency. Symbolized expression of colors and figures helped the participant to process her somatic memory on the affective and emotional levels. Implications: This case study demonstrates the therapeutic implication of ATTP on a traumatized elderly. In this study, the participant displayed emotional breakthrough and consolidation of a sense of self through engaging in bilateral sensorimotor experience, which is understood to activate both analytic and sensory regions of the brain. The findings indicate that the ATTP may be effective in lowering internal distress, strengthening internal self-representation, and developing self-confidence through emotional regulation within the traumatized elderly population. The result may be corroborated by future research that implements quantitative methods.

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