Using Art Therapy To Treat PTSD: Heal Those Invisible Wounds

Using Art Therapy To Treat PTSD: Heal Those Invisible Wounds

Stressful and traumatic events can leave an enduring imprint on those who experience them. Some people are able to process these events and some others have difficulty and require some assistance. The latter part of that statement can involve those who suffer from Posttraumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD. It doesn’t matter the trigger, but finding the proper therapy to help treat PTSD can be a life-saving event for those with this disorder. We here at HPFY may be able to help through the use of art therapy to treat these unseen wounds.

What Exactly Is PTSD?

I’m sure just about everyone is come across the term PTSD, but do we understand exactly what it entails and its effects? Posttraumatic Stress Disorder has its origins with the term Shellshock, evolved into battle fatigue syndrome, and now the accepted term is PTSD. Posttraumatic stress disorder is a serious condition that rears its ugly head when someone has endured a horrifying or traumatic event. states some of the symptoms of PTSD may include:

  • Flashbacks
  • Avoidance
  • Increased arousal
  • Negative cognition/mood

Since everyone reacts differently to traumatic events, not everyone will develop PTSD. This disorder can be experienced by military personnel in combat, first responders, and even a child or sexual abuse survivors.

Using Art Therapy

How Art Therapy is used to Heal People?

Therapy to treat posttraumatic stress disorder has made great strides throughout the years. A number of different treatment methods are used including Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT), Prolonged Exposure (PE) therapy, and biofeedback therapy. Therapies help treat those with PTSD by working through memories that trigger emotional and/or physical responses of PTSD until they no longer cause symptoms. They say pictures are worth a thousand words and the use of Art Therapy is another great way to help those suffering from PTSD. Art therapy uses a multitude of creative outlets for those with posttraumatic stress disorder to deal with their symptoms by expressing words and thoughts with pictures. These can include painting, coloring, and sculpturing among many creative, calming activities. It allows for a safe outlet and creates separation from the traumatic events that triggered episodes of PTSD. The American Art Therapy Association points to four contributions of art therapy for PTSD as:

  • Reducing anxiety and mood disorders
  • Reducing behaviors that interfere with emotional/cognitive functioning
  • Externalizing, verbalizing, and resolving memories of traumatic events
  • Reactivating positive emotions and self worth/esteem

This is more than just some kind of art class we used to have in grade school. Using Art therapy allows military members, first responders and survivors of abuse the outlet to re-acclimate themselves into everyday life. It may seem minuscule but PTSD survivors need all the help they can get and art therapy can provide them with the proper, calming outlet for success.


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