Members of the Armed Forces face unique stressors during their service. Unfortunately, the consequences of these stressors frequently follow them long after discharge. Vets often deal with addiction and mental health issues related to their time in the military. Art therapy for veterans is one of the approaches to treating these, but can it really help deal with mental disorders and such complex issues?
Our Morriston Florida residential treatment center has a variety of therapeutic offerings — including art therapy — that have proven effective at treating Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), depression, addiction and other disorders faced by vets. The goal of our creative arts therapies is to help you get your life back on track, and that’s why we create customized treatment plans catered to individual clients.
Art therapy for military veterans is just one of the many tools we offer. Contact us today to learn more about how our holistic approach can help.
An art therapy program is simply the combination of creative art endeavors and psychotherapeutic techniques. Studies have consistently shown that creating art results in a calming effect that is a great emotional starting point for those in mental health treatment. This is certainly good for the human psyche, but relaxation can’t deal with most issues faced by veterans. After all, the suicide rate among vets is 1.5 times higher than the general population.
Fortunately, art therapy goes far beyond mere relaxation techniques. Art therapists work with the patient to create art in different approach and forms, but the goal is always to discover underlying issues and help process them. Researchers at the American Art Therapy Association have found that this is effective in treating PTSD:
“This review suggests that if current service members and veterans were placed into art therapy programs as early as possible after being diagnosed with PTSD, they would be at less risk for developing greater PTSD symptom severity.”
Posttraumatic stress disorder certainly isn’t the only condition that affects former service members. As one of the more serious battles they can face, though, art therapy for veterans has become an important aspect of many individualized treatment programs. This is beneficial for vets dealing with other disorders that this approach has proven effective with.
Art therapy for veterans is more than just an extracurricular activity during treatment. It’s a focused therapeutic approach that has shown to excel in areas where other mental health therapies fail. This doesn’t mean it will offer benefits for everyone. Treatment centers that offer it as an option, however, have an additional tool in their battle against addiction and mental health conditions.
Posttraumatic stress disorder is a serious condition, but that doesn’t mean other disorders are any less serious. Offering a focused treatment plan for any struggle that vets deal with is vital, and art therapy can be an essential component in many of these mental health issues treatment plan. Consider just a few of the disorders that this approach is currently used in treatment plans for:
This list is far from exhaustive. Health professionals also use art therapy with patients living with autism, dementia, cancer, schizophrenia and more. The conditions listed are important in art therapy for veterans, though, due to their high occurrence in former service members. When clients have art as an expressive outlet capturing meaningful precise moments, therapists can more easily get to the root of problems.
Mental health professionals wouldn’t typically recommend art therapy as the sole treatment for any serious disorder. It is a complementary approach that can prove invaluable within a customized treatment plan. Transformations at Mending Fences offers this and a variety of other therapies for conditions veterans often face. These include:
Each of these approaches offers benefits, but they won’t all be right for everyone. This is why we create customized treatment plans at Mending Fences. No two individuals are exactly alike — even when they’re facing the same battles, one may need art therapy and CBT while others will not. Contact us today to learn more about why individualized treatment plans have become the recommended approach to healing.
Cognitive behavioral therapy is the most common treatment utilized for PTSD. Even with this long history of success, though, art therapy for veterans is still just as important. Unfortunately, CBT only targets two of the three symptom clusters of PTSD. Art therapy has proven effective at targeting the third. This shows the importance of a holistic approach.
Rather than focusing on an individual issue, it’s essential to focus on a person as a whole. This means discovering what makes them unique, and treating underlying issues and co-occurring disorders. It also means using every resource available for effective treatment, and this often includes multiple therapeutic approaches.
A holistic approach is certainly more work, but it also offers the best chance at recovery.
Even when military service doesn’t involve combat, substance abuse and mental health disorders are not an uncommon result. Those who heroically served our country are often left fighting their own battles after service. If you’re a vet who’s struggling with addiction or mental health issues, there are many treatment options that can help.
Transformations at Mending Fences has a history of serving former service members. Art therapy for veterans is just one of our many offerings. Our focus on a holistic approach means we have an abundance of resources that can help you take your life back. Contact us today to learn how our veterans treatment program helps our country’s bravest men and women.
VA Office of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention
Journal of Military and Veterans Health