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Sensory Motor Arousal Regulation Therapy

Sensory Motor Arousal Regulation Treatment (SMART) is a model of psychotherapy for traumatized children and adolescents. It draws upon sensory integration based occupational therapy and other body-oriented therapies and is designed to treat regulation problems commonly associated with trauma through active therapy in a room that allows for movement and play.

What does SMART do?

  • utilizes an array of therapeutic equipment, such as weighted blankets, balance beams, fitness balls, and large cushions, and shared play to support children’s natural ways of regulating their bodies and their emotions, facilitate attachment-building and allow for embodied processing of traumatic experiences.

  • blends movement and relationship to regulate arousal states and powerful affect, thereby , engaging the subcortical, cortical, and attachment neural pathways to increase behavioral and psychological integration.

  • widens the child’s window of tolerance for both positive and negative emotional states, and for interpersonal connection so that healthy development can proceed.


What makes SMART Different?

  • does not rely on language and awareness as an entry point. A coherent narrative and cognitive understanding emerge as a result of fully embodied play engaging the sensory, motor, limbic, and arousal systems for self-exploration.

  • engages the sensory motor systems, especially the vestibular, proprioceptive and tactile sensory systems for emotional, psychological, and relational regulation and repair.

  • follows the child’s lead while tending to safety, uses full body participatory play with the child, to work with the unfolding process in real time in session as the path to developing new skills and processing traumatic experience.

  • uses videotape case review and reflection to support more precise focus on the underlying patterns of behavior, areas of avoidance and areas of strength for the child, which informs more tailored interventions and treatment plans.

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