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OTS 137: Trauma-Informed OT with Adolescents

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Welcome to the show notes for Episode 137 of the OT Schoolhouse Podcast.

Are you aware of the hidden traumas that adolescents face daily, that can sometimes go unnoticed?

In this episode Dr. Park sheds light on the subtle negative experiences that may go unnoticed but have a long-term impact on these young lives. The discussion also takes us beyond traditional understandings of trauma to recognize the broader spectrum that encompasses a sense of not belonging and exclusion due to identity-based micro aggressions.

Join us as we uncover the impact of trauma on adolescents, discuss the importance of inclusive education, and foster a greater understanding of how OTPs can support those dealing with trauma in meaningful ways.

Listen now to learn the following objectives:

  • Learners will gain an understanding of the different types of trauma experienced by adolescents and how these experiences impact their daily lives.

  • Learners will explore practical strategies to create trauma-informed classrooms and inclusive environments that promote healing, growth, and resilience.

  • Learners will develop a toolkit of evidence-based interventions and approaches that can be used to address the effects of trauma in school-based settings.

Guest Bio

Dr. Karen Park has extensive experience in pediatric practice in a variety of service settings including early intervention, clinic, school, hospital and outpatient children’s mental health.

She is Board Certified in Pediatrics by the American Occupational Therapy Association and holds Advanced Practice certification in swallowing assessment, evaluation and intervention in California.

Prior to joining the faculty at the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences, Dr. Park was an assistant professor of clinical occupational therapy and the director of academic fieldwork education at the University of Southern California (USC), Chan Division of Occupational Science and Therapy.

Her expertise in fieldwork education focuses on role-emerging fieldwork experiences in children’s mental health settings; specifically mentoring occupational therapy (OT) students in identifying and establishing the role of OT in addressing the occupational needs of underserved children and families with a history of complex trauma.

Dr. Park has lectured nationally and internationally on topics around interdisciplinary approaches to feeding assessment and intervention, the intersection of trauma and mental health factors on mealtime engagement and enjoyment, healthy weight for children with special healthcare needs, as well as developing and sustaining role-emerging experiences.


“Psychological safety really paves the way for belonging."

— Karen Park, OTD, OTR/L

“Every experience positive and negative is going to change the trajectory of that brain development slightly.”

— Karen Park, OTD, OTR/L

“We want cortisol, to help us respond to stress, that's a good thing. But when we have children that are experiencing…ongoing, traumatic experiences, what happens with the HPA axis, is that the cortisol is being consistently released over and over. And that can create a sense of hyper vigilance for our kids.”

— Karen Park, OTD, OTR/L

“We want to have some awareness of the issues in the world that may be impacting our students and the pain and the grief that they may be carrying, so that we don't ask them to leave their humanity at the door.”

— Karen Park, OTD, OTR/L

“It just makes it a little bit more real sometimes to better understand how the brain is processing, the trauma and how the limbic system is working, and how the HPA is all working.”

— Jayson Davies, MA, OTR/L


Thanks for listening to the OT Schoolhouse Podcast. A podcast for school-based OT practitioners, by school-based OT practitioners!

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