Among the many health benefits of art therapies for our nation’s Veteran’s are an alleviation of PTSD and TBI symptoms, improvements in overall wellness, better moods, improved outlook on life, stress reduction, more healthy interpersonal relationships, and reduced anxiety.
Yoga for Veterans with PTSD
In 2020 a study was conducted to examine the impact of yoga intervention on cognitive functioning, PTSD symptoms and the biological stress response in Veterans. Statistically significant improvements were observed on PTSD, depression, sleep, quality of life and subjective neurocognitive complaints.
Pilot Data on Effects of Community Dance for Veterans with PTSD and Their Family Members
Researchers conducted a study in 2019 to test the effects of a community dance program to treat symptoms of PTSD. They found improvements in wellness scores for all participants and concluded there is promise in treating some of the most persistent symptoms of PTSD in Veterans and their families with dance programs.
Dance/Movement Therapy & Warrior Wellness
In 2019, Dr. Allison Winters Fisher from Saybrook University analyzed the effectiveness of dance/movement therapy-based mind-body wellness programs that is part of a larger integrative program for military service members with traumatic brain injury (TBI). Her results indicate potential increases in mind-body awareness for patients, as well as a possible shift in movement flow.
Telehealth-Based Creative Arts Therapy: Transforming Mental Health and Rehabilitation Care for Rural Veterans
A group of University of Florida (Gainesville) researchers studied the results of telehealth dance therapy for Veterans living in rural areas and therefore far from medical centers. They found that dance/movement therapy supports participants’ mediation of physical sensations, emotional regulation, cognitive functioning and social interactions. Veterans reported improved experiences in each of these domains when completing homework between sessions.
Implementing Music Therapy Through Telehealth: Considerations for Military Populations
Researchers in 2022 examined how music therapy through telehealth could impact military members. They found that participants positively responded to music therapy and reported decreases in pai, anxiety and depression.
Group Music Intervention Using Percussion Instruments to Reduce Anxiety Among Elderly Male Veterans with Alzheimer’s Disease
Researchers in Taiwan completed a study in 2021 aimed at assessing the impact of a group music intervention on anxiety and depression of elderly male Veterans with dementia. Their results found a significant reduction in anxiety levels following the 12-week music session and concluded that participating in a group music intervention reduced anxiety symptoms for elderly male Veterans with dementia.
Songs Created by Military Service Members in Music Therapy
In 2018, Dr. Joke Bradt from Drexel University conducted a study on the impact of music therapy and songwriting on military service members. Among the findings was that the songs written facilitated expression of struggles with injuries and invisible wounds of war, and included motivating messages aimed at providing hope for other service members. The conclusion was that songwriting enabled service members to share their thoughts, emotions, fears and hopes with family, friends and other providers, often for the first time, and as such played an important role in their personal growth and recovery process.
Music Therapy Applied to Complex Blast Injury in Interdisciplinary Care
Researchers from Harvard University and Drexel University in 2018 conducted a trial with Veterans and music therapy. They found that music therapy optimized the rehabilitation of a service member through assisting the recovery process on a continuum from clinic to community. They also found that music therapy with traditional disciplines can enhance treatment outcomes in functional domains of motor, speech, cognition, social integration and quality of life for military populations; music therapists can help ease discomfort and difficulty associated with rehabilitation activities; music therapy assists treatment processes from clinic to community, making it highly valued by the patient and family; and music therapy provides a platform to prevent social isolation by promoting community integration through music performance.
The Theatre as Therapy for Military Veterans? Exploring the Mechanisms Which Impact Psychosocial Well-Being and Social Connections During Theatre-Based Programmes
In 2021, researchers in the United Kingdom released the results of a study that provided unique insight into the benefits of theatre-based programmes on the psychosocial well-being of military Veterans. Results showed that these programs were beneficial.
A Trauma-Informed Analysis of Monologues Constructed by Military Veterans in a Theater-Based Treatment Program
A study in 2020 involved the analysis of ten trauma monologues written by military members. Based on their work, the researchers concluded that creative arts therapies can be extremely beneficial in treating the effects of trauma in military populations.
A Pilot Study on Playback Theatre as a Therapeutic Aid
Researchers in 2020 studied the impact of playback theatre performances on levels of depression, anxiety and PTSD. Their results showed that both anxiety and PTSD symptoms significantly decreased.
Thawing Out: Therapy Through Theatre with Canadian Military Veterans
Researchers in Canada conducted a study in 2019 in which military Veterans, with the support of artists, community members and counselors, performed what it means to transition back to civilian life after serving their country. They had unexpectedly found that the several of the Veterans’ engagement with art-making and performing extended their own therapy, leading to significant personal changes.
The Therapeutic Effects of Imagination: Investigating Mimetic Induction and Dramatic Stimulation in a Trauma Treatment for Military Veterans
The DE-CRUIT program uses theatre and the imagination to treat the trauma in military Veterans. They conducted a study in 2018 on the possible therapeutic potential of mimesis and their results showed how the imagination opens up emotional and psychological space for the exploration of trauma, thereby constructing a path to recovery that draws upon the human capacity for story-telling.
Visual Arts/Art Therapy:
A Case Analysis of Service-Member Trauma Processing Related to Art Therapy Within a Military-Intensive Outpatient Program
In 2020, researchers from the Madigan Army Medical Center in Washington state conducted a study using mask making to treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The results suggest that art therapy and written narrative, combined with standardized self-report assessments, may improve PTSD treatment.
Artopia: Creative Healing with Veterans
A 2020 collaborative study between the University of Texas Arlington’s Art and the Veterans Assistance Program examined how art therapy could benefit Veterans’ mood states and psychological distress. Findings indicated an overall significant positive mood state increase before and after art therapy. Moreover, Veteran participants perceived benefits of engaging in art therapy were positive.
Quantitatively Improved Treatment Outcomes for Combat-Associated PTSD with Adjunctive Art Therapy
In 2019, Dr. Kathleen Decker and other researchers conducted a study with Veterans with combat-related post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and the inclusion of art therapy in their treatment. They found that the Veterans who received the art therapy had statistically significantly greater reduction in PTSD and depression compared to the control group.
Evaluation of Long- and Short-Term Art Therapy Interventions in an Integrative Care Setting for Military Service Members with Post-Traumatic Stress and Traumatic Brain Injury
In 2018, Dr. Girija Kaimal from Drexel University issued results from a study on art therapy interventions for military service members with post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury. Art therapy was proven to help these Veterans with developing a sense of self after injury, experiencing positive emotions, processing trauma and reducing feelings of guilt, grief and loss. Participants with longer time in service were more likely to have improvements on the following symptoms: nightmares, flashbacks, isolation, horror, avoidance of people/places/situations, negative beliefs of self, ability to experience positive emotions, feeling alienated, irritable or aggressive behaviors, easily startled, and sleep disturbances.
Art Therapy for Military Service Members with Post-Traumatic Stress and Traumatic Brain Injury; Three Case Reports
In 2018, Dr. Jacqueline Jones from the National Intrepid Center of Excellence satellite site at Fort Belvoir Community Hospital conducted a study that proved that the inclusion of art therapy into interdisciplinary treatment plans for Veterans significantly improved patients’ progress in addressing TBI and PTSD. A stage-based outpatient art therapy program enabled patients to express, identify, articulate and process chronic trauma-related symptoms and led to improved communication with providers and loved ones and improved quality of life.
Master My Demons: Art Therapy Montage Paintings by Active-Duty Military Service Members with Traumatic Brain Injury and Post-Traumatic Stress
In 2018, researchers from Drexel University concluded from their study that group art therapy experiences fostered improvement in interpersonal relatedness, hopefulness and gratification for the service members in treatment.