Executive Summary

  • Nontraditional forms of therapy are popular among clinicians treating trauma-exposed children and children involved with the child welfare system.
  • Generally, these nontraditional forms of therapy lack sufficient empirical research to know (a) whether the intervention is effective, (b) which forms of the intervention are preferable, and (c) what populations or presenting concerns might benefit from the intervention.
  • The current review examined the empirical evidence for four types of nontraditional therapy:
    • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) o Animal-Assisted Therapies (AAT)
    • Creative Arts Therapies (CAT)
    • Movement-Focused Therapies (MFT)
  • Results
    such as posttraumatic stress and depression. However, the “nontraditional” aspect of EMDR, known as bilateral stimulation, appears ineffective and unnecessary for treatment success.
  • For both AAT and CAT, there is limited evidence to suggest that these interventions are effective. The positive results that were obtained may be due to other factors, such as social interactions provided through the group nature of the programs tested.
  • MFT was found to have the most limited empirical basis as most recent studies appeared to show no effect or minimal impact from the treatment, despite methodological limitations that likely benefitted the MFT program. Similar to AAT and CAT, positive results identified could be the result of the group nature of the program.

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