Self-Care after Trauma: Sharing the plan behind my study.

Fall of 2019

If you have not read the first post that shared the introduction of my thesis, you can read it, here. I would suggest reading that so you can have a better understanding of the topic of my study since this post will be sharing the next part which is the methodology, or plan! If you want to hear to me go through the entire introduction chapter you can listen to the podcast episode, Self-Care after Trauma: Discovering what that means through the introduction of my thesis

For the readers out there, who have never written a research paper, participated in studies, or don’t read studies for pleasure, you might not know what the word methodology means. Do not worry! I will be using layman’s terms.

It’s really just a descriptive outline of how I conducted the study and how I analyzed the data. What I will be focusing on in this post is explaining to you what my plan was. Telling you exactly how I used art therapy, journaling, and dream reflection as self-care tools. As a reminder, the title of my study was, “Self-Care after Trauma: A heuristic inquiry using Art Therapy, Journaling, and Dream reflection.” 

This could seem like one of the more boring parts of talking about my thesis journey, but it is essential. I can’t share my results without telling you how my study was conducted.

The strategic plan… paraphrased.

For 5 weeks I participated in weekly responsive art making, weekly journaling, and daily dream documentation. The daily dream documentation is virtually self-explanatory. Every morning I documented my dreams by writing them down. The weekly journaling was directed by these two journal prompts: Did any feelings related to your trauma surface or did you experience a trigger this week? What were your emotions throughout the week?

Then the art making was in response to the journal entries and dreams to further process them. I made an art piece in response to how I felt about my dreams that week, and I created another piece in response to how I was feeling throughout the week. So, I was creating two art works a week, journaling to check in with my emotions once a week, and every single day, I was documenting my dreams.

Then there was a minimum 10-day incubation period following the 5 weeks where I took a break from doing those three self-care techniques to allow my conscious mind to relax, while my unconscious mind was integrating the information. Within that period, I was required to participate in other self-care activities like yoga, meditation, being in nature, dancing, and working out. 

This study was intense.

It was also required of me to see a therapist on a weekly basis while I was actively conducting the study on myself.  I had already been seeing a therapist weekly for about 4 months, and I just kept up that routine. Which I definitely needed that mental support to keep me grounded while my study was cracking me open. 

There is the extremely simplified version of my methodology chapter! 

If you are interested, you can listen to me break down all of the sections throughout the methodology chapter in a conversational way on my podcast, in episode 32. (additional resources pertaining to the methodology sections are listed in the show notes on the podcast episode) If you have any questions please reach out! Stay tuned as I continue to share my thesis journey. The next parts I will be sharing is the raw data from my study. Yup, I will be revealing my dreams, my journal entries, and showing all of my artwork. 


When we see the light in ourselves, we create light in others.


Much love,



P.S. Even though I am sharing my study via blog and podcast, which is a public forum, my work through Creating Light with Kelsey is still copyrighted. Then my thesis is also copyrighted and went through its own publishing process at my university.

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