Using Art Therapy for Treating Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
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Using Art Therapy for Treating Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Art therapy, a form of psychiatric treatment that creates a safe space to express painful feelings, engages the part of the brain that processes trauma: the amygdala. Some patients later find that they can even speak about some of their most traumatic experiences. Many people know about the adult coloring book trend, but more substance exists than a simple trend. Like talk therapy, art therapy has tremendous healing potential.

Art Therapy and PTSD

Using different art forms, art therapy takes advantage of sculpting, painting, coloring, and drawing to recover from PTSD. Art allows us to process the most traumatic events when words fail to express our sorrow. Trained art therapists will look at every stage using art to help people. Pinpoint the coping strategies to find your inner strength. You may have the therapist ask you to draw a feeling and discuss it. The art tells a story with a timeline of everything that happened in the person's life. At the same time, the process of creating art with a timeline like this feels deeply rewarding. Methods like art therapy address the person's entire experience because trauma happens through more than words. After taking a PTSD test and speaking with a licensed psychiatrist, you may be ready to see if it is the right therapy for you.

Creating Separation from the Trauma

Art therapy works because it separates us from the trauma we experienced. We feel as if we can safely express ourselves through art. Bringing art even to a basic level, the other realms of our personal experience open up. We might access a realm that we could have never reached without the medium of art therapy.

Disconnected and Dissociated

Many people suffering from PTSD report feeling separate from their bodies or disconnected from reality. Learning how to have a connection to the body will be critical to your recovery from PTSD. Most people who feel ongoing trauma resulting from combat or domestic abuse will feel unsafe inside their bodies. Manipulating artwork outside your body, you can begin to feel that connection with your body again through externalizing the most difficult pieces of trauma. Skilled art therapists will understand how to use a variety of media outlets for creative expression. Art offers us a bridge where our feelings and experiences can cross over into them. You will start to feel safe in your body again.

Be Careful of Who You Use for Art Therapy

Visual and sensory materials can trigger a patient, which is why only a licensed art therapist is recommended to help people through their traumatic experiences. Certified credentials like ATR or ATR-BC show that the patient will be in safe hands. The art therapist received extensive training to help patients work through the traumatic experience.

How to Find the Right Art Therapist

Look for trauma-informed art therapists to find one that can manage your trauma. They will have tools that support survivors of traumatic experiences. Talk therapy and CBT often get used to some degree in art therapy, so the therapy session will still have that element to it. Still, the art will remain the centerpiece of the experience. Trained art therapists should ideally have a master's degree in psychotherapy. Beware of how you may see many therapists who talk about doing art therapy, but you must pick the right person for it.

Understanding the Limitations of Art Therapy

Before you decide on this form of therapy, you may want to know about the limitations to determine if it would make sense for you. While many people support the effectiveness of art therapy, some remain skeptical of its benefits. Some individuals may also not believe enough in their own artistic abilities to want to take on this form of therapy. Ultimately, the goal behind the therapy is to express your emotions, rather than create a masterpiece. You will need to commit to a series of sessions before its benefits start to roll forth. Other concerns include the tools and equipment necessary to begin an art therapy session.

You may find this to be the right choice for your PTSD. Art therapy can improve communication, self-awareness, and confidence in oneself through the expression of your ideas. Many people report lowering feelings of isolation because of it. Another one of the great things about this form of therapy is how it makes people into appreciators of the arts. You don't need to be the best artist to take art therapy.

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