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24th April 2020 Latest News

Art Therapy Colouring the Lives of Veterans and First Responders

Art therapy colouring lives of verterans and first responders

Art therapy is transforming the wellbeing and mental health of our service men and women going through Post-Traumatic Stress, thanks to ground-breaking research funded by MESHA.

In an Australian-first study, Holly Bowen from the University of South Australia is examining how art therapy can be treated as a prescribed therapy for defence members, veterans and emergency service personnel.

Holly says the research hopes to provide valuable evidence to support much-needed funding for art therapy in Australia.

“Australia’s defence and emergency service personnel are exposed to a high number of traumatic events, which untreated, can result in severe emotional distress or post-traumatic stress symptoms,” Holly said.

“Leading into ANZAC Day amid COVID-19 – and in the wake of Australia’s devastating bushfire season, supporting our critical defence and emergency service personnel is on everyone’s minds.

Art therapy is an adjunct to traditional talk therapies, combining counselling and visual arts to enable a participant to address long-standing attitudes, thoughts, and behaviours. But unlike talk therapies, the focus is on the art, not the need to express and revisit their traumatic experiences.”

The research has already shown that art therapy can deliver improvements in mood, outlook, behaviours, as well as confidence, personal relationships, and a sense of self-awareness, all essential for long-term understanding and healing.

MESHA  is proud to keep art therapy services running amidst COVID-19. Our Resident Art Therapist, Karin Foxwell has transitioned her 90-minute art therapy sessions to online, ensuring her patients maintain momentum and progress while practicing social distancing.

“Isolation is always a red flag for those in mental distress, so it’s incredibly important that we maintain connection with all our patients,” Karin said.

“Art therapy, whether online or face-to-face allows traumatic material to be externalise through imagery where the participant can view the content with a measure of emotional distance. This creates an opportunity for the creation of a new and coherent narrative in a safe way.

“Luckily, we’ve found online art therapy not to be too far removed from an in-person consult, so instead of discussing an artwork face-to-face, a patient simply holds it up to the camera, and we decipher it from there.”

Chief Executive of The Hospital Research Foundation* (THRF) Group Paul Flynn says MESHA  is working hard to keep these services running for veterans and emergency service personnel as best they can under these unprecedented circumstances.

“It is important Art Therapy participants are still receiving these beneficial sessions and given the current situation, online sessions are proving to be quite successful. This way the participants feel like we are still there for them especially during these times,” Paul said.

We are proud to continue supporting our veterans and emergency service personnel during these times.

*MESHA is a charity of THRF Group.

 

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