When words don't work, arts program can help heal veterans


The leaders of a new local program to provide art therapy for veterans dealing with trauma have made a discovery: sometimes the most resistant participant ends up getting the most out of it.

For veterans who have experienced post-traumatic stress disorder or other forms of service-related trauma, applying paint to canvas or simply cutting out and pasting images from a magazine can often be a better form of expression than sitting around and talking about it.

St. Paul-based Ars Bellum Foundation has partnered with the Adler Graduate School, a Richfield school that offers a master of arts degree in counseling and psychotherapy, to create a clinical art therapy program for Minnesota veterans. Modeled after a program developed at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., licensed art therapists lead participants in small group sessions to identify and deal with their struggles, many that have been buried for decades. They meet wherever they can, often in local VFWs, which have been supportive of the program.



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