Art Therapy for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Research Paper by Nicky

An exploration of the application of art therapy to help those affected by Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
# 145837 | 4,360 words | 12 sources | APA | 2010 | US
Published on Nov 29, 2010 in Art (Education) , Psychology (Therapies)

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This paper explores the application of art therapy in helping those affected by Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The paper notes that recent research has utilized art therapy as a methodology to help alleviate the stress associated with PTSD and remove some of the emotional pain experienced by sufferers through catharsis. The paper explains that, through utilizing the various assessment models available to the practice of art therapy, PTSD can be diagnosed and treated through non-verbal expression, which proves less complicated than traditional therapies, which rely on interviews. The paper asserts that art therapy can of use especially in cases involving children and veterans, stating that this therapy allows for individual emotional expression, which helps relieve some of the immense pain built up inside from the various forms of trauma associated with PTSD in patients of all ages. The paper concludes that, despite promising results of earlier studies, the breadth of research involving art therapy and PTSD in particular remains rather small; more research needs to be conducted on patients suffering from all forms of PTSD to better understand its healing capabilities.

From the Paper:

"There are several accepted models of practice within the field of art therapy which are handled by specially trained practitioners. One commonly implemented art therapy assessment is the Diagnostic Drawing Series (DDS) which relies on the patient being asked to draw several pictures on an 18x24 piece of paper with chalk (Malchiodi 2002). The first drawing is left to the patient to decide, while the second is asked to be a picture of a tree. The final drawing is requested to be a representation of how the patient is feeling using various lines and shapes to portray a unique picture. These three pictures are then analyzed through the patient's use of color, shapes, and composition of images (Malchiodi 2002). Another common model is the Mandala Assessment Research Instrument (MARI). This model requires patients to choose a card with various geometric shapes out of an entire deck (Malchiodi 2002). Then, the patient is asked to choose a color from a similar deck of color cards. Once this is one, the patient then commences drawing the selected shape with the selected color in oil pastels and then explains why they choose that set of shape and color (Malchiodi 2002). This model is aimed at uncovering hidden meanings behind the patient's choice to better explore the individual's psychological progressions. Through the use of these models, trained art therapists can then recognize various expressions without pulling it out of the patient in a verbal manner, but rather through analysis of the artwork itself. There are a variety of other assessment models which have been used to explore the effectiveness of art therapy with disorders such as PTSD."

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Casura, Lily. (2008). Catharsis: art therapy, trauma, and PTSD. Healing Combat Trauma. Retrieved 19 Jan 2008 at
  • Chapman, Linda M.; Morabito, Diane; Ladakakos, Chris; Schreir, Herbert; Knudson, M. Margaret. (2001). The effectiveness of art therapy interventions in reducing post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms in pediatric patients. Art Therapy: Journal of the American Art Therapy Association. 18(2):100-104.
  • Freeman, Chris. (2006). Psychological and drug therapies for post-traumatic stress disorder. Psychiatry. 5(7):231-237.
  • Hoge, C.W.; Castro, C.A.; Messer, S.C.; McGurk, D.; Cotting, D.I.; and Koffman, R.L. (2004). Combat duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, mental health problems, and barriers to care. New England Journal of Medicine. (351):13-22.
  • Krapp, Kristine and Cengage, Gale. (2002). Art therapy. Encyclopedia of Nursing & Allied Health. Retrieved 20 Jan 2008 at

Cite this Research Paper:

APA Format

Art Therapy for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) (2010, November 29) Retrieved March 20, 2023, from

MLA Format

"Art Therapy for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)" 29 November 2010. Web. 20 March. 2023. <>