Creative Arts Therapy

Creative Arts Therapies, also known as expressive psychotherapies, are defined by the National Coalition of Creative Arts Therapies Associations, Inc. as using art modalities and creative processes to improve disabilities and illnesses, as well as to optimize health and wellness. The outcomes for creative arts therapies include improving communication and expression, as well as increasing physical, emotional, cognitive, and/or social functioning. While creative arts therapies may not be widely known, organizations supporting them have existed in the United States for over 50 years. Creative arts therapies encompass disciplines of art therapy, dance/movement therapy, drama therapy, music therapy, and poetry therapy, to name a few.

Our National Intrepid Spirit Center of Excellence (NICoE) as well as many of our Intrepid Spirit Centers, which act as satellite centers to NICoE, utilize creative arts therapies as part of their interdisciplinary method of treatment for service members suffering from the invisible wounds of war:  traumatic brain injury (TBI) and post-traumatic stress (PTS).

At our treatment centers, a one-of-a-kind union has been forged in the name of art and our military heroes. The program driving creative arts therapies at NICoE and the Intrepid Spirit Centers is called Creative Forces. It’s a joint initiative that was launched by the Department of Defense and the National Endowment for the Arts. In clinical settings like our centers, Creative Forces’ creative arts therapists implement art and music therapies, as well as creative writing instruction.

Art therapy and music therapy are two of the most widespread creative arts therapies at our centers. Art therapy addresses the challenges trauma survivors often face in communicating and verbalizing the traumatic event they experienced. Because art therapy is a non-verbal expression, it accesses different areas of the brain, creating a pathway to express oneself in a different way. Art can then become an extension of one’s thoughts- that they are still struggling to verbalize and creates new pathways in the brain to verbalize and process what has been experienced.

Music therapy can have a similar impact. Through music, we experience the natural ability our muscles possess to synchronize with the beat of a song. For those who are experiencing physical issues as a result of a TBI, providing a steady musical beat at the appropriate pace can help lead a patient to re-learn smooth, even paced walking again. Playing, composing, and listening to music can also lead to relief from TBI & PTS symptoms. These symptoms, such as attention, learning, and memory issues can all be addressed with the help of music therapy.

8 Intrepid Spirit Centers are open and operational, with 3 more planned. The Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization and we’re working to fulfill a crucial need for centers to treat TBI & PTS, the “signature wounds” of today’s military conflicts. Learn more about IFHF’s mission and donate today to help us complete our mission!

Posted on March 18 2019 in Blog

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