The Ars Bellum Foundation uses clinical art therapy to help veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder work through the memories of their experiences on the battlefield so they can deal with the psychological aftereffects of that trauma.
It has proved effective in reducing some of the most chronic symptoms of PTSD, including anxiety, nightmares, anger outbursts and emotional numbing.
Ars Bellum, which translates into "arts of war," employs licensed therapists to lead veterans through a series of exercises over an eight-week period, using various art forms to let the veterans create artworks that express the traumatic memories and feelings that cause their stress.
Getting those memories out of their psyche and into a piece of art is a key step toward helping them unlock those experiences so they can eventually talk about them and process them, foundation officials say.
Studies have shown that the art therapy program lets veterans communicate their experiences in ways other than words, a common difficulty for those with the most severe and chronic symptoms.
On Thursday the foundation, whose mission is to help veterans make the transition from active duty to civilian life, is launching its first pilot art therapy program in Minnesota for veterans diagnosed with PTSD and for their families. The program will be conducted at the Adler Graduate School in Richfield. There still is room for veterans to participate but space is limited and veterans need to preregister.
To be eligible for the first course, veterans must have a diagnosis of PTSD, be willing to commit to all six sessions and have family members who are willing to participate in the last two sessions.
For more information, call 651-317-9759 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Continuing therapy programs are scheduled to start in St. Paul in February and are free to veterans and their families. The group hopes to open additional art therapy studios around the state.