Recently, I read an article on art therapy for patients suffering the effects of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. According to the article, the use of art therapy has been seriously under-studied in this area, and I must say that I agree. However, before discussing the article, I feel it is necessary to understand what, exactly, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is. As stated by Merriam-Webster, PTSD is "A psychological reaction occurring after experiencing a highly stressful event (as wartime combat, physical violence, or natural disaster) that is usually characterized by depression, anxiety, flash-backs, recurring nightmares, and avoidance of reminders of the event." Thus, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is fairly common in those who have served in the military and seen war.
The article said that although the effects of art therapy have not been studied extensively here, but that it, "Shows promise as a means of treating hard-to-treat symptoms of combat-related PTSD," and goes on to describe the symptoms. These consist of avoidance as well as emotional numbing, and also treat the underlying issue: the psychological situation from which these issues manifest.
The actual treatment consists of group treatment, drama therapy, community service, anger management, and journaling that occur in three stages. It is also recommended that the therapists performing this receive specialized training in trauma intervention, as well as PTSD theory.
On another note, the article also said that although PTSD was not recognized as something that could actually be diagnosed until 1980, art expression to treat the condition began to surface in the late 70's. The use of art expression has been used in multiple ways to treat PTSD. These include the use of drawing, mainly, to assist patients in the expression of their experiences, as a way to communicate difficult details of the event, a way to master and take control of one's feelings, and to help survivors recall, re-enact, and recover from these events. According the research listed in the article, the use of this treatment for PTSD helps reduce immediate symptoms and assist in the organization of traumatic memories in a way that using words alone can not. Art expression helps the survivor to relax and build self-esteem while rehabilitating social skills and externalizing the memories.
It appears that group therapy is the form most recommended. I would assume this to be because a group setting facilitates the understanding that the patient is not alone, and that many others are also working to understand and over-come PTSD. I have found this article to be incredibly informative in my research, and it also lists many others that look as though they, too, will help.
The article I have read can be found here: http://www.internationalarttherapy.org/militarytrauma.html
(The top-most link, but again, the others seem intriguing as well.)