March 2011 Archives

The Art Therapy Act! (Logistics)

While trying to find information pertaining to who benefits most (men or women) from art therapy in the treatment of PTSD, I came across a rather interesting article titled "Art Therapy Legislation."

The article stated that The Buckeye Art Therapy Association, or BATA, as well as many other consumer organizations, are asking Ohio legislature to consider art therapy for licensure! This would, according to the article, "create a clear definition for credentialed and licensed professional art therapists in the state of Ohio that includes the nationally recognized standards for graduate education, competencies, hours of supervised practice, and credentialing, [and] protect the public and improve mental health outcomes by prohibiting unqualified practitioners from advertising themselves or otherwise holding themselves out to be art therapists or practicing art therapy. "

Now, it appears the problem thus far with art therapy in the state of Ohio, is that art therapists work with incredibly vulnerable individuals--these consisting of the mentally disabled, developmentally delayed, older adults, older adults with dementia, traumatized children (and teens/adults, for that matter), and veterans suffering from PTSD--and yet there is no set group of standards that assure the persons that their art therapist is qualified to address their specific issues via the medium of art therapy. However, the national standard for art therapy is a specified two year graduate degree, 60 supervised hours of practice, and the "highest level of professional standards (as stated by the article, located here: http://www.buckeyearttherapy.org/Legislation/BATA_Two_Pager_Licensure.pdf )." But for some reason, in the state of Ohio ANYONE can claim to be an art therapist and treat unknowing patients without sufficient training or assessment. As result of the growing public awareness of the use of art therapy, it is quickly becoming more critical to have these legal guidelines in place, to avoid mis-treatment.

The article also states, "Art Therapists often achieve outcomes more rapidly than traditional psychotherapy by helping to represent a client's emotions visually and then reflect on what they create." This goes in accordance with my other recent findings that art expression therapy is a wonderful choice of up and coming treatment options.

In addition, the article lists reasons why legislation will be good for art therapy--it will protect the public. By recognizing and establishing a group of standards for art therapists, like other mental health professionals, the state will provide protection to consumers that ensures the qualifications of the therapist to treat the mother, father, child, veteran, or otherwise that are on the receiving end of these services. Art therapy will also become more cost effective and affordable due to this!

This sound to me like an all around good thing (well, maybe not to those who are currently practicing art therapy and are not licensed..). In relation to other states regulations, TX, NM, MA, PA, KY, MS, KS, and CA all have them. Additionally, there are thirty-eight AATA approved graduate art therapy education programs currently in existence in the US. Art therapy is definitely on its way to becoming main-stream!


Art Expression Pieces in Galleries?

This week I read a few articles on military-related treatment using art therapy. I am having a bit of trouble finding too much more descriptive information on art expression as a treatment for PTSD, however I did find an article that explains the types of art therapy a bit further.

These include: drawing, painting, sculpting, mosaic art (this one was new to me), and clay art. Drawing, the simplest form of art therapy, requires only the use of pen/pencil and a piece of paper, allowing the vet to express the way they are feeling in a very easy way. Painting uses colors, which can be a bit more useful in self-expression. The color use allows a therapist to better understand their client, as each color indicates a different emotion (warms can be happy or angry and cool colors are often sad, etc.). Sculpting is a bit more hands-on and most often the patient feels as though the sculpting material is an extension of themselves. Mosaic art is a bit different, however, because it requires the patient to use both cognitive and problem-solving skill. Therefore, it is an effective way to increase a vet's coping skills. The final form, clay art, is much like sculpting because the art is often viewed as an extension of the artist and is also very beneficial to the healing process.

In another article, Kim Le Nguyen, as art therapist who served in Vietnam, speaks of the Military Creative Expressions course where war veterans are treated for PTSD via art therapy. Later on, the article mentions an exhibit entitled Conflict|Resolution that features art created by the military personnel in the Military Creative Expression course. The gallery can be found at http://www.csfineartscenter.org/conflict.html. The link will being you to a website where you can click 'exhibits' in the top left corner, which will bring you to another page. On this page, clicking 'Wounded Warriors exhibition' will bring you to a page that will explain about the Military Creative Expression portion. This part of the exhibit will be displayed March 26th though June 20th of this year.

Now that I have found quite a bit of solid information on PTSD and art therapy, but it is raising some questions in the meantime. I am beginning to wonder if the use of art expression is more effective in men vs. women or if its' use is equally effective in both genders. I also wonder if age has anything to do with art therapy's effectiveness. Does it work better in younger patients or older ones? Or, again, does it not make any difference? Perhaps this is what I will attempt to research for next time...

The articles commented on this week can be found at these addresses:
http://www.brighthub.com/mental-health/anxiety-panic/articles/100144.aspx

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/art/blog/2010/05/for-soldiers-returning-from-war-finding-catharsis-in-creative-expression.html

How Does Art Therapy Help Vets?

In an article published by the American Art Therapy Association, it is stated that art therapy assists veterans as a form of rehabilitation. Even Senator Bob Graham (from Florida) speaks to the benefits of this new form of therapy saying, "Art therapists provide effective treatment and health maintenance intervention for veterans, focusing on all of their like challenges, such as mental, physical, and cognitive impairments. Intense emotion and memory, often difficult to convey in words, often are more easily expressed in images with the guidance of a trained clinician." Thus, Art Therapy has been available at VA hospitals since the year 1945, as part of their mental health services. Services are now offered at VA facilities across the country though TRICARE, managed health
care, and other programs for military, reserve, and retired service men and women.

The article explains that mediums other than the usual drawing with crayons or markers on paper are used-- including painting and sculpting. But how does it help? With a little bit of light research, I found some further information on the subject. Art Therapy, or Art Expression, allows military personnel with mental health issues by encouraging self-expression and expression of concerns. It also allows clinicians to observe depression and so assist in its relief and in reality orientation.

While the effects of art therapy in treating PTSD are still being studied, it is so far looking quite positive. In PTSD specifically, Art Expression helps in reducing anxiety and mood disorders, reduces behaviors interfering with emotional and cognitive functioning, and externalizing/verbalizing and resolving memories of traumatic events. It also reactivates positive emotions of self-worth and self-esteem.

Art therapy also works towards the treatment of substance abuse by assisting veterans in understanding their addictions and making a personal commitment to sobriety. It also also helps veterans dealing with substance abuse to experience spirituality through way of self-expression, and increases overall quality of life in assisted care and hospices.

When being used in a hospice/assisted care setting, Art Expression embraces strength, courageousness, and pride of military personnel as it helps these patients to create "visual records of their autobiographies, memories, and legacies," while reducing stress and increasing cognitive skills. In addition, when veterans are undergoing physical rehabilitation, Art Therapy increases the controlled use of fine motor skills, acceptance of physical changes and injuries, and promotes discovery of new strengths.

Now, what are veterans saying about Art Therapy as a form of recovery? Roy Meadors of Topeka, Kansas, a vet who spent four and a half months in Vietnam, said art therapy gave him a "non-threatening place for social interaction," as well as helping him to express his emotions and pursue other activities.

There are also testimonials from multiple other patients, as well as one from Steve Piscatelli, who also spent time in Vietnam. Piscatelli did not discover Art Therapy until quite recently, and claims that had he not found it, he probably would have committed suicide along with the many others who did.

The American Art Therapy Association, or ATTA, is really dedicated to pursuing the use of Art Therapy to assist veterans. The ATTA is definitely a source I will need to further look into throughout my research. The article I have referenced in this entry is available at the following address:

http://www.arttherapy.org/upload/file/RMveteransPTSD.pdf

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