Monday, 14 November 2011

Art Therapy for Heroes

At school when I took a careers test, 100 multiple choice questions which when fed into a computer told me my top 10 careers, the results included Art Therapist and it’s always held a real interest for me. In addition to my love of art and passion for creating, one of my main interests has always been psychology and mental well-being. If it hadn’t been for the long years of study needed (I think it was 7), perhaps I would have gone for it and be a happy art therapist today. Who knows, perhaps one day I’ll get there!

A fascinating documentary special by the Culture Show ‘Art for Heroes’ broadcast on Remembrance day, 11/11/11 gave an interesting and convincing insight into how art therapy is helping ex-servicemen deal with the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder  (PTSD).

The reporter, Tim Samuels met with a number of veterans of recent British conflicts including the Falklands and Northern Ireland, each of whom shares some of their personal struggles with PTSD as a result of their military career. The programme gave a shocking insight into the symptoms of PTSD, revealing that it can take years for sufferers to seek help for the condition – many of them going through alcohol and drug addictions and failed marriages during that time. Through a unique art therapy programme run by the only military based art therapist in the country, the documentary goes on to show how art is helping a group of war veterans come to terms with some of their experiences. It shows how the process of drawing, sculpting and painting provides a way to tap into violent or difficult past experiences or recurring thought patterns, and provides a release for those thoughts and feelings.   

I can’t put it as well as the documentary, so I’ll stop there and just recommend you watch it!

It’s really moving and thought provoking and well worth a watch – Art for Heroes - A Culture Show Special

I also found this great Art Therapy blog whilst researching for this post - Art Therapy Blog .
Adrian Hill - One amongst Many

Adrian Hill (1895 – 1977)

In 1917, Adrian Hill was the first official war artist appointed by the government to record scenes of the First World War, these works are now housed in the Imperial War Museum. Hill subsequently introduced the concept of art therapy into hospitals after being confined for TB. Hill coined the term "Art therapy" in 1942, and in 1945 published his ideas in the book "Art Versus Illness".

Hill thought that when the patient's physical resistance was at its lowest this somehow rendered the "animal ego" quiescent and allowed the creative powers of the "spiritual essence" to come through in works of art. On recovery, these creative powers would tend to wane back to the "pictorial commonplace". He recognised that war was not only physically destructive but also damaged "minds, bodies and hopes" and that the need for psychological healing was even more important than mere physical repair of "property and estate". He believed that the practice of art, "in sickness and in health" , could turn society away from war by making artistic creativity more appreciated. He saw art therapy as becoming an integral part of the National Health Service.

Adrian Hill info taken from Wikipedia - Adrian Hill

2 comments:

crimsoncat05 said...

very interesting! (as an art journaler, I know the process of art can be therapeutic-- at least for me.) Would be interesting to see how it can help with PTSD. Unfortunately, that BBC documentary is only available in the UK, apparently. I'll keep my eye out for it in the US somewhere, though!

Cecca said...

Thanks Crimsoncat!
So sorry you can't view it too, it was a great programme. Yes I really think everyone should do some sort of art, it can be such a relaxing and enjoyable thing to do. I love art journaling and i admire anyone who can keep it up on a regular basis! :-)

Sociable

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