Sexual trafficking of humans has been a historical problem of epic proportions within the domestic and international communities. Sexual trafficking is defined by the U.S. State Department as the use of power, control, and coercion of its victims for sexual acts, often resulting in severe physical and psychological consequences. There continues to be a scarcity of published existing literature detailing the benefits of psychological intervention for survivors of commercial sexual exploitation. This study sought to examine the efficacy of utilizing expressive arts as a treatment intervention for survivors of trafficking, as described through the experiences of clinicians who have worked with them. Participants (N = 6) were recruited within the Los Angeles area and nationally, who were clinicians with a combination of training and experience with utilizing art with survivors. A qualitative approach was used with interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) as the primary method, with themes generated across in-depth interviews conducted with the clinicians. Results suggest that expressive arts was found to be a beneficial and effective approach with survivors, particularly as a vehicle to promote the therapeutic relationship and guide the process of recovery. Exploratory findings illustrate the use of expressive arts in fostering connections, relationships, instilling hope, promoting identity, and discovering strengths. Further research is warranted detailing the extent to which expressive arts can be beneficial for this specific population, integrated with culture, bodily awareness, and advocacy for more training in working with survivors.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Dissertations (PsyD) -- Psychology; Human trafficking victims -- California -- Los Angeles -- Psychology; Sexual abuse victims -- Services for -- California -- Los Angeles; Art therapy

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Bryant-Davis, Thema;