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Many people view art therapy as nothing more than a relaxing outlet. In reality, it plays a much larger role in achieving mental wellness. This is especially the case for former service members who may have difficulty openly expressing themselves. Even more than just creating an emotional outlet, though, art therapy for PTSD and other common issues can help veterans.

Transformations at Mending Fences offers this therapeutic approach in addition to many others. Our focus is on providing proven treatments that can help vets take their lives back. That’s why we want you to understand the benefits of art therapy to veterans — and how they can work as part of a customized treatment plan.

Our specialized veterans treatment program was created by former service members, for former service members. Contact us today to learn more.

1. It Has a Proven Track Record

Perhaps the most significant benefit of art therapy for veterans is that it works. This isn’t simply a promising therapeutic offering that might provide benefits. Studies have repeatedly shown the effectiveness of this approach, and the Department of Veterans Affairs recognized the advantages long before the therapy became widely used in the general public.

Even on their website, the VA is clear about the effectiveness of art therapy for returning vets:

“The [VA] has provided free therapeutic arts and crafts kits to hospitalized and homebound veterans for generations. The creative arts program helps injured and recuperating veterans… manage stress and substance abuse [and] cope with symptoms of PTSD and TBI, while also improving their sense of self-esteem and overall physical and mental health.” 

While there are many new therapeutic offerings that show promise, the benefits of art therapy have long been established. Even before the mental health crisis among veterans was fully understood, the Armed Forces utilized therapeutic arts and crafts to help returning service members. All the research supporting art therapy merely confirms what the military already knew.

2. Art Therapy for PTSD Is Vital

Most people understand that posttraumatic stress disorder is a serious problem for veterans. Unfortunately, many don’t realize just how big this problem is. Up to 20 percent of those who served in Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from the condition. As of the last count, 15 percent of Vietnam vets had the same issue. Fortunately, one of the many benefits of art therapy for vets is that it targets PTSD.

While this therapeutic approach wasn’t created solely to deal with posttraumatic stress, many of its clinical outcomes improve symptoms. Consider the following results of therapy:

  • Heightened bodily awareness: Veterans with PTSD often feel disconnected and dissociated from their own bodies. Increasing bodily awareness is vital.
  • Stress relief: PTSD comes with a high level of stress, and this can worsen other issues like depression, anxiety and flashbacks. Reducing stress is paramount.
  • Trauma processing: PTSD stems directly from traumatic experiences. Being able to process this trauma is necessary for healing.
  • Heightened dopamine: Studies have discovered that art therapy increases dopamine. This is invaluable since PTSD drives these levels down.

Anyone can develop posttraumatic stress disorder, but the condition is an epidemic among members of the Armed Forces. Even if this treatment only targeted issues related to PTSD, the benefits of art therapy for veterans would still make it an essential approach. Fortunately, the advantages go far beyond a single condition.

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3. Art Therapy for Veterans Picks Up the Slack

When helping veterans with PTSD, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is the most commonly used treatment option. Unfortunately, it only targets two of PTSD’s three symptom clusters. This means it’s effective, but it also has its flaws. Fortunately, art therapy has proven effective at targeting the third symptom cluster of PTSD.

This is why we offer an array of therapeutic options at Mending Fences. Having more tools to work with increases the chances of success. Contact us today to learn more about how our holistic approach can help you.

4. Art Therapy for Veterans Can Help Overcome Substance Abuse

Overcoming substance abuse is more than just a benefit of art therapy for veterans. After all, about 10 percent of Americans report dealing with substance abuse disorder at some point. Unfortunately, the problem is even worse for vets.

Those who served have higher rates of addiction than the public, and nearly one-third of vets living with addiction also have PTSD. This makes art therapy one of the most important tools for treating veterans.

Even though it’s a complementary approach, the benefits it offers cannot be overlooked.

5. Art Therapy Provides Insight and Externalizes Emotions

Many of the mental health therapies that help former service members are successful at providing insight and externalizing emotions. This is a major benefit of art therapy for veterans. Countless people with military backgrounds simply don’t feel comfortable expressing themselves verbally.

Fortunately, art therapy allows them to do so visually. This also facilitates verbal communication, and discussions about their art can provide insight. Even if art therapy’s only benefit was helping vets express what they’re feeling, it would be an integral part of any treatment program.

Gain the Benefits of Art Therapy for Veterans Today

The hurdles faced by returning service members are many, and they very often lead to dark times for our vets. These issues were far too long swept under the rug, but that’s no longer the case. If you or a loved one is facing difficulties — whether substance abuse or mental health related — help is available. It all starts with a phone call.

Transformations at Mending Fences is staffed by certified therapists and professionals. We understand there’s no “one-size-fits-all solution” to mental wellness. This doesn’t mean the benefits of art therapy for veterans aren’t promising, but it does mean we’ll create a customized treatment plan that caters to your specific needs.

Whether you need art therapy for PTSD or one of the many other issues veterans face, contact us today to get on the path to physical and mental wellness.