Art Therapy for First Responders
Exposure to traumatic events can lead to sleep disorders, cognitive problems (i.e. memory lapses, reduced concentration), depression, and post traumatic stress disorder. First responders are especially vulnerable to psychological issues resulting from their continual exposure to traumatic situations.
While many first responders find conventional treatments like counseling to be therapeutic, others have discovered that alternative treatments like art therapy can greatly inspire healing. If you’re skeptical about the benefits of art therapy, keep reading. You’ll gain an understanding for what it is and how it benefits sufferers.
Art Therapy: An Overview
People who have experienced trauma often come to the conclusion that there are no words to describe their emotional pain regarding what they witnessed or endured. Yet, as many therapists will insist, communication is often the most effective method for working through trauma in order to manage conditions like post traumatic stress disorder.
When a soldier or first responders like police or fire fighters find it too difficult to convey their emotions or talk about the circumstances of their trauma, art therapy allows them an entirely different medium to express themselves. Many have discovered that it leads to immense healing.
According to the American Art Therapy Association, art therapy is led by a trained therapist who helps sufferers “use art media, the creative process, and the resulting artwork to explore their feelings, reconcile emotional conflicts, foster self-awareness, manage behavior and addictions, develop social skills, improve reality orientation, reduce anxiety, and increase self-esteem.”
Today, this therapy is practiced worldwide in crisis centers, psychiatric clinics and hospitals, forensic institutions, schools, and private clinics. Art therapy programs can be found throughout the U.S.
How Does Art Therapy Help First Responders?
Art therapy is especially beneficial for people who have survived traumatic events and helps those who have suffered the loss of a loved one through a traumatic illness, witnessed or participated in a battle, experienced a natural disaster, or suffered a physical injury.
While art therapy does foster a certain appreciation for art, that is merely one of the benefits associated with this type of treatment. Art therapy helps people who are suffering with psychological conditions by improving depression, helping resolve emotional conflicts, improving self-expression and interpersonal skills, reducing stress and negative emotions, and managing negative behaviors. It also helps participants discover personal insights that allow them to grow and move beyond the walls of their trauma.
If you are a first responder and have experienced traumatic events in association with your career, you may find this therapy extremely beneficial. In fact, the healing you can achieve in art therapy can provide you with renewed armor for dealing with the continued stresses of the job. Many people who have completed art therapy programs are so impressed by the emotional relief they discover in the creation process, that they frequently continue to rely on art in their daily or weekly lives.