The use of art psychotherapy in the treatment of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a debilitating mental health condition caused by a distressing, frightening, or threatening event. 

Someone with PTSD will, when triggered, typically re-experience the event through flashbacks and nightmares. This can lead to further problems such as anxiety, depression, and insomnia.

There are no limits to the type of event that can trigger PTSD. However, the most common include serious road accidents, violent personal assaults, and childbirth. The onset of symptoms can either develop immediately after the traumatic experience or take weeks, months or even years to appear.

PTSD occurs in people of all backgrounds, ages, and genders. It is estimated to affect around 3.5% of US adults every year, while approximately one in 11 people will be diagnosed with PTSD in their lifetime. Women are twice as likely as men to suffer from it.

People who experience traumatic situations repeatedly, whether severe neglect, abuse or violence, may be diagnosed with what’s known as complex PTSD. Those with complex PTSD tend to display similar symptoms to regular PTSD, such as feelings of shame or guilt, difficulty controlling emotions, relationship difficulties, trust issues, and suicidal thoughts.

How can art psychotherapy be used to treat PTSD?

Art psychotherapy is an approach to therapy that uses creative mediums such as drawing, painting, and sculpture as an alternative form of expression.

The creative process can help people resolve issues and gain control over their behaviours and feelings. It can also reduce stress, improve self-esteem, and help develop awareness. To be effective, you don’t have to have any artistic experience – it is more about the process than the result.

While there are a number of approaches to treating PTSD, art psychotherapy is undoubtedly one of the most effective. Here are just a few reasons.

It gives sufferers a “voice”

Art offers a powerful means through which to control and create separation from traumatic events without the need to use words. The creative manifestation becomes a “visual voice”, with the sufferer transforming their emotions, thoughts, worries, and hidden feelings into drawings, sculptures, or paintings.

In short, it gives sufferers of PTSD the ability to express themselves when words are not sufficient.

It offers safety

Using the imagination and converting it into art can help bring a degree of relief from PTSD. 

Not only can it help restore a sense of emotional safety and wellbeing, it can also allow the sufferer to stabilise their trauma into manageable states of happiness and security.

It provides a distraction

More often than not, art psychotherapy taps into areas of the brain that may otherwise be consumed with feelings of guilt, shame, and anxiety. 

During sessions, it provides a welcome distraction from the day-to-day distress of flashbacks and unwanted thoughts, which, over time, may start to be replaced more long term.

It lets sufferers know they’re not alone

In group sessions, art psychotherapy is a way in which people can openly express themselves without fear of embarrassment or shame. 

When sufferers can see the troubles of others, it can help put their own situation into perspective and realise that they’re not alone.

At Philippe Jacquet & Associates, we run both one-on-one and group art psychotherapy sessions for people suffering from PTSD. Using our wealth of experience, we can help give you a voice in a professional and confidential setting.

We are trained in all aspects of art psychotherapy, which means we can not only set up a safe environment but also offer analysis of your creative output. Book a session with us today and work towards coping with PTSD.


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