Art Therapy and Its Role in PTSD Treatment for Combat Veterans

My summer research project for the McNair Scholars Program was centered on the use of art therapy, specifically visual journaling, as a treatment for combat-related Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) syndrome.  I partnered with Dryhootch America in Milwaukee to recruit participants and conduct my research with veterans. Although it was very time consuming, reviewing literature allowed me to assemble my research proposal with a clear idea of what has been done and what I could focus my research on.

With the recent military conflicts and effects of previous conflicts, rates of PTSD are high among combat veterans. There is a need for quicker and more reliable treatment methods that help veterans resolve mental health issues. By researching the use of art therapy as a treatment option, there will be more results proving that art therapy is able to address the trauma issues better than traditional methods, such as talk therapy.

With this being my first experience with a full-scale academic research project, it was overwhelming at the beginning. It seemed that there were so many pieces that needed to come together. With the help of knowledgeable people and tackling one part at a time, all of the pieces started to fall into place.

I have learned that a full-scale research project is a lot of work. Resources are the most valuable aspect. Once the process is understood, motivation, organization, and perseverance are the key to completion.  

I realized that there is more to the research process than I originally thought. I never pictured myself conducting research, yet here I am, determined to accomplish a goal that used to feel out of reach.

I discovered that if you set your mind on something, you can conquer the world. This proposal was challenging, yet enlightening at the same time. I am excited to work with some great people while being able to help them. I am curious to see the project unfold and I hope that my little part helps society understand PTSD and better ways to treat it.

I hope to continue working on some aspect of PTSD as I move on to obtain my Ph. D. in Military Clinical Psychology. Being part of McNair and embarking on this project are a stepping stone on the path to my future and I feel empowered and excited to see where it takes me.

Dr. Janet McCord was my primary mentor; she provided valuable information on qualitative research. Leah Klapperich was also a great resource for art therapy concepts. Dr. Sylvia Reed helped me better understand how to analyze data. Jane McGovern, from the university library, was involved in getting the literature that I needed. All of the guest speakers and Teri Durkin, the instructor for MCN-201, were instrumental in my understanding of the research process. There were many more individuals who proved to be invaluable along the way; I am very thankful to them.

Jennifer Menke, of Almond, Wis., is a senior majoring in Expressive Therapeutic Arts at Marian University with a minor in Psychology.

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5 thoughts on “Art Therapy and Its Role in PTSD Treatment for Combat Veterans

  1. Pingback: McNair Student Reflects On Domestic Violence Research Project | TRiO/McNair News – Marian University

  2. Pingback: Expressive Therapy | AnxietyMattersOnline

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  5. I would love to read your paper. I am a retired veteran who is about to graduate with a Masters in Expressive TX. I would love to learn about your project.

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