Art therapy for PTSD and TBI: A senior active duty military service member’s therapeutic journey


Research Abstract
Art therapy for PTSD and TBI: A senior active duty military service member’s therapeutic journey

"Art therapy is increasingly being accepted as a form of complementary and integrative care for military veterans affected by trauma and injuries in the line of duty. Less is known, however, about the applications of art therapy for co-morbid traumatic brain injury (TBI) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In addition, most studies to date have focused on art therapy with veterans (former military service members) rather than with active duty service members; furthermore, there are no studies that have examined the unique context of PTSD in senior military personnel. This case study presents the therapeutic process through art therapy in the case of a senior active duty military service member (with chronic PTSD and TBI), in the context of an integrated model of care that included medical and complementary therapies."

"In this paper we presented a case study of the ongoing process of healing for an active duty military service member with symptoms of chronic PTSD and mild TBI. Using multiple data sources we identified how the patient overcame resistance to treatment and used art therapy and acupuncture to externalize and manage recurring intrusive images and traumatic memories. In addition, the study highlights the applications of non-verbal therapies like art therapy to help patients who are unable to express themselves through traditional talk therapies, as well as the ways in which multiple integrative forms of care can help address the needs of a patient especially one with intractable symptoms of PTSD and TBI. Incorporation of these techniques into the broader interdisciplinary team assessment and treatment strategy holds great promise for more rapidly identifying disease and returning service members to improved function."


Case Study
Walker, Melissa S.; Kaimal, Girija; Koffman, Robert; DeGrabaa, Thomas J.
The Arts in Psychotherapy
July 2016
The Arts in Psychotherapy

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