They say, “War is hell”. A person never knows what to expect in the heat of battle. One moment the silence is deafening, and the next moment the countryside erupts in percussive explosions with the endless spray of bullets flying everywhere. Sometimes it is hard to tell, under the constant shelling and lifeless bodies strewn about the battlefield, who is friend and who is foe.

Art Therapy Helping Veterans

Alternatively, it is not always the intensity of the fighting that gets under a one’s skin. Just the sight of another member of one’s unit having a bad encounter with a roadside bomb is all it takes to shake a person up. The thought quickly crosses the mind, ‘That could have been me.’ Or, maybe it is the guilt some feel from that first or second confirmed kill. It is enough to compel many soldiers to ask, ‘Is human life really that expendable?’

Art Therapy Helping Veterans Battle PTSD

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On the battlefield, the need to survive causes many soldiers to quickly learn how to suck it up and tuck many of those feelings inside. Perhaps the greatest difficulty is facing these issues when the war machine is no longer forcing these individuals to engage the primal instinct to survive. They call it aftermath, because that is when the real calculations are performed by the human psyche, and the final assessment of the real extent of the damages are made.

Back in the states, hundreds of miles from the action, life inevitably goes on. But, for many that life is riddled with PTSD, depression, guilt, and in some cases, more severe expressions of mental instability.

It is not uncommon to learn that many of those who leave the battle field are not always capable of leaving the war behind them. In fact, it is common for people to engage in substance abuse in an attempt to find a modicum of peace in a variety of desperate acts of self medication. But, what about finding solace in applying brush to canvas?

Art therapy could be the new path to overcoming the trauma of war, and finally being able to move on. If the point of therapy is to get what is bothering a person out into the open, there’s possibly no better way to accomplish that goal than to express what one feels through the artistic process.

Sometimes a person just can’t face the fact that it is okay to leave the baggage of war behind. By expressing how one really feels in the pit of the soul through the use of art, perhaps the mind can begin to let go of the trauma by transferring the images and ideas to another object of their creation through the medium of art.

Some who have engaged in the use of art therapy have found that at the very least, it is a helpful tool to take their mind off what is bothering them. Others have realized that art therapy is an avenue that helps them to overcome the stigma often associated with being labeled as having a mental disorder.

What many people have experienced is that, through the use of art therapy, they depend less on using medication to help them cope. Perhaps the most valuable lesson to walk away with here is the idea that if the human mind is stimulated properly, through an avenue such as art therapy, then the mind will progress in a healthy way towards overcoming trauma, depression, and even deeply seated guilt. In this manner, maybe there is some truth to the notion that time heals all wounds, if one uses that time constructively.