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How Does Art Therapy Help Veterans With PTSD?

Post-traumatic stress disorder is a major issue impacting veterans in this day age. The treatment of vets diagnosed with PTSD is proving to be particularly challenging. As a result, mental health professionals seek different treatment protocols to assist vets with PTSD. This includes art therapy PTSD treatments which are becoming more widely utilized.

See our ranking of The Best Undergraduate Degrees in Art Therapy Ranked by Affordability.

Prevalence of PTSD Among Vets

The precise number of vets afflicted by PTSD is challenging to quantify. With that said, PTSD appears to be a major health issue of veterans.

The RAND Corporation undertook an exhaustive study about PTSD among veterans, compiling the data in an extensive report. The date from the study revealed that at least 20 percent of Iraq and Afghanistan vets suffer from PTSD and/or depression. Many experts in the field of treating PTSD estimate this percentage is higher due to the fact that some vets likely suffer from PTSD and conceal the condition out of fear of being stigmatized. In addition, vets who've sustained traumatic brain injury have a higher incidence of PTSD. The report also noted that only about 50 percent of vets suffering from PTSD seek treatment.

Reduce Anxiety

Art therapy PTSD treatments have been demonstrated effective in reducing anxiety among vets. A reduction of anxiety is possible through this type of therapy because art provides a means of expressing what a vet fears or what causes that individual to feel unduly anxious in the first instance.

Minimize Behaviors that Impact Emotional and Cognitive Functions

PTSD potentially impacts a vets emotional and cognitive functioning. This is another area in which art therapy PTSD treatments are proving effective. Because PTSD can significantly impact a person's ability to interact with others, a growing number of therapists are structuring group art therapy experiences for vets. This process allows vets the ability to build healthy relationships with others facing similar challenges in a safe environment.

Aid in Expressing and Resolving Memories of Traumatic Events

Although vets with PTSD find themselves reliving traumatic experiences from their time in the service, these same individuals oftentimes have problems expressing these memories, let alone resolving them. Through art therapy, a vet laboring under the weight of PTSD is better to express memories of a traumatic event. In addition, this type of therapy provides a beneficial vehicle through which a vet is able to move forward in constructively resolving these memories.

Reactivate Positive Emotions

Another way in which art therapy PTSD treatments assist vets is through a reactivation of positive emotions. The reality is that PTSD can result in a what fairly can be described as a gray cloud enveloping a veteran's life. When a vet is afflicted with PTSD, his or her self-esteem and sense of self-worth takes a beating. An individual with PTSD feels defeated and sometimes virtually worthless.

Through PTSD treatments utilizing art, a vet is able to reactivate positive emotions, including those that underpin a veteran's self-esteem and sense of self-worth. The process of engaging in this type of therapy bolsters positive emotions. In addition, oftentimes when a vet has a final product to show to his or her artistic efforts, that accomplishment is affirming as well.

This type of therapeutic regimen continues to prove beneficial to vets with PTSD. Art therapy PTSD treatments will continue to be utilized with vets in conjunction with other therapeutic modalities.