Reducing PTSD Symptoms in Veterans with Art Therapy: A Study

Over the next few weeks we are going to feature some scientific, peer-reviewed studies conducted on veterans that studied the impacts and real-world benefits of implementing art therapy for those suffering the invisible wounds of war, PTSD. This week we will be focused on the November 2021 study, published in the Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing by N. Atweh, R. G. Al-Saber, & K. R. Karam.

This study aimed to investigate the effectiveness of art therapy in treating PTSD symptoms in veterans. It involved 20 veterans who received eight weeks of art therapy sessions. The researchers used a mixed-methods approach, combining quantitative and qualitative data to evaluate the effectiveness of art therapy. The participants were asked to complete the PTSD Checklist for DSM-5 (PCL-5) questionnaire before and after the intervention to evaluate their PTSD symptoms. The PCL-5 is a self-report measure that assesses the severity of PTSD symptoms. The results of the study showed a significant reduction in PTSD symptoms in the participants after the eight-week art therapy intervention. The mean score on the PCL-5 decreased from 60.38 at baseline to 44.31 at the end of the intervention, indicating a significant reduction in PTSD symptoms.

The researchers found that art therapy helped the veterans they tested express themselves and communicate their feelings, which improved their relationships with others. In addition, veterans reported that art therapy provided them with a safe space to express their emotions and experiences, and they appreciated the nonverbal nature of the sessions.

One participant stated, “[a]rt therapy is my time to decompress, to work through things, to express myself, and to deal with my emotions”. Another participant noted that art therapy helped them connect with their emotions in a way that talking therapy had not. Through this study, the researchers discovered that the use of art as a therapeutic tool helped the participants increase self-awareness, enhance problem-solving skills, and improve communication. The participants reported feeling more relaxed and calmer after the art therapy sessions.

Overall, this study suggests that art therapy can be a useful tool in the treatment of PTSD in veterans. Art therapy may help veterans to express themselves and communicate their feelings in a safe and supportive environment, leading to a reduction in PTSD symptoms. Further research is necessary to investigate the long-term effects of art therapy on PTSD symptoms in a larger and more diverse population of veterans.

The authors of the study recommended that future research should investigate the long-term effects of art therapy on PTSD symptoms in veterans. They also suggested that larger studies could help to establish the effectiveness of art therapy in treating PTSD in a more diverse population of veterans. In other words, we need more art therapy options for veterans suffering from PTSD across this nation and around the world to treat others suffering the impacts of trauma. Our aim at the Graffiti of War is to do all we can to promote art therapy as a viable solution for treatment. Not to replace current treatment regimens such as group therapy or pharmacological treatments, but as a compliment to these treatment solutions.

To read more about this study, we have included the link below as well as additional links for review.


Atweh, N., Al-Saber, R. G., & Karam, K. R. (2021). Art therapy for veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder: A mixed-methods study. Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing, 28(8), 861-871.

Link to study – [note this may require a subscription to access]

Helpful Links on PTSD and Art Therapy:

  1. American Art Therapy Association:
  2. National Center for PTSD:
  3. Creative Forces:
  4. VA Office of Research & Development:

Always Forward!

Jaeson "Doc" Parsons

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Jaeson "Doc" Parsons

Founder and CEO of The Graffiti of War Project, Doc is a decorated combat veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom where he was a combat medic with the 54th Engineer Battalion. He is currently the a journalist for Force 12 Media and is featured weekly on Docas been featured in numerous media outlets such as, and For more information about Jaeson “Doc” Parsons click HERE or send him an EMAIL.

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