Art Therapy Heals Our Heroes

Art therapy wasn’t officially developed into a form of treatment until the 1940’s, however it can be argued that art has been used as a form of therapy since the the cave paintings of 40,000 years ago. Now, art therapy has become an integral piece of the treatment at many of our Intrepid Spirit Centers. Art therapy helps heal our heroes of the Invisible Wounds of War.

What Is Art Therapy?
Literally defined, art therapy “is a psychotherapeutic intervention that helps patients safely express and non-verbally externalise inner psychological experiences, especially fragmented memories resulting from trauma, as well as the identity-related, emotional struggles of physical and cognitive injuries sustained with TBI”. In layman’s terms, art therapy provides a safe-haven for Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) & Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS) patients to express what they’re feeling.

When someone suffers a TBI, it affects the way their brain works and processes information. Art therapy is one way that can affect and improve their condition after suffering a TBI or PTS. The symptoms of TBI include physical, cognitive, and sensory changes/difficulties. Art therapy is known to provide help with the cognitive and sensory changes after a TBI or PTS.

How Does Art Therapy Help?
Brenda Maltz, Creative Arts Therapist at our Intrepid Spirit Center at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, explained art therapy like this: Art therapy is “for healing, a little bit of self-discovery, (and) for telling a story about their lives that maybe hasn’t been able to be spoken before.”

At the Intrepid Spirit Centers, art therapy lets military personnel tap into the memories and emotions surrounding their Invisible Wounds of War. When patients make their masks, researchers noticed patterns. On many masks there were references to people who had died, self-injuries, and broad concerns. In many instances, these “invisible wounds” are extremely difficult to verbalize and discuss. Art therapy allows the communication and expression of some of these feelings, and can both alleviate them and provide the entry point to discuss and work through them. It’s been proven that patients have been able to verbalize better after treatment with art therapy.

A Champion of Art Therapy
The value of art therapy isn’t going unnoticed. Second Lady of the United States Karen Pence (wife of Vice President Mike Pence) has been a champion of art therapy. She has shown great enthusiasm for the value and importance of art therapy and has visited 3 of our Intrepid Spirit Centers to help shine a light on the treatment.

Art therapy has already helped countless heroes return to a full and productive life after suffering the Invisible Wounds of War while defending our country. We’ve built 7 Intrepid Spirit Centers specially equipped to help Fight the War Within. Learn more about how we heal our heroes and donate to the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund today.

Posted on May 21 2018 in Blog

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