Art therapy alleviates PTSD Symptoms in some Veterans

Art therapy alleviates PTSD Symptoms in some Veterans

By Peter Ward

A very interesting article published by PsychCentral this week reveals how art therapy has proved to be very beneficial to PTSD sufferers from the Afghanistan and Iraq war zones. 

Art therapy has long since been recognised as a useful aid to the recovery of many types of trauma but no such study has ever been carried out on war veterans from these two combat zones before. 

The research was conducted by Cheryl Miller, who used the study as part of her master’s thesis in Concordia University’s Department of Creative Arts Therapies.

Soldiers aged between 28 and 56, with PTSD symptoms, were given the therapy twice weekly, in a bid to get out negative feelings and thoughts.

Miller says: ‘Through art, participants were able to express positive feelings, externalize difficult emotions and gain insight into their PTSD symptoms’ 

A variety of art mediums were used from paints, and charcoal, to clay and Plasticine. Miller explains: ‘They produced artworks based on themes such as anger versus tolerance, grief and loss versus new beginnings. 

‘The aim was to give participants an opportunity to express their emotions and t explore their hopes and goals for the future’.

The overwhelming response to the sessions was one of great expression and positivity.

If we consider these finding to be as positive as Miller does then surely we should consider the possibility of art therapy being used in this way for other cases of PTSD and even anxiety disorders in general.  It would seem that one key element is that the people in the group have had similar experiences and that they can use the art, not just as a creative recreation, but also as a means of opening discussion with other like-suffering people.

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