There are all kinds of treatments for soldiers who are trying to deal with traumatic brain injury (TBI) and the psychological problems that come with it. The Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Washington has incorporated art therapy into its regimen, according to The Washington Post.
There is a Healing Arts Program at the hospital’s National Intrepid Center for Excellence, which treats service members suffering from combat-related TBI. It has an intense four-week program where soldiers undergo physical and psychological rehabilitation, and that program now incorporates art, music and writing therapy.
Creative arts therapist Melissa Walker developed the art programs that have become part of the rehabilitation regime. According to The Post, the art therapy is used as a way to assess a patient’s mental health, as well as a tool for patients to relax and cope.
Walker uses one-on-one art therapy sessions to set goals for treatment — from alleviating anger and anxiety to improving memory — and devise projects to help service members reach those goals.
There are also group art sessions, The Post reported, where soldiers are asked to create masks that show their so-called “warrior identities.” The idea is allow the service members to express their feelings in a non-verbal way and also share their experiences with others in their group.
Writing and music are also options for therapy at Walter Reed. Walker has teamed up with the National Endowment of the Arts (NEA) to bring creative writing workshops and music therapy to troubled soldiers, according to The Post. The NEA is also helping Walker devise ways to quantify the progress troops make after undergoing arts therapy.
Some soldiers continue their arts efforts, to great effect. The Post reported that one soldier was able to win a full scholarship to Vassar by actually writing a play for his application.