When natural or military disaster strikes it leaves thousands of traumatized children and adults in its wake. Even after the trauma occurs, some individuals will deal with grief many months, and possibly years, later. In some cases, their caregivers may also have experienced their own suffering, making it difficult for them to provide full care. At precisely the time the traumatized child or adult may need special assistance, caregivers and social institutions may be least able to come to their aid.
A colleague of mine, recently shared with me the work of ArtReach. The ArtReach Foundation offers hope through a unique program using expressive arts and creative problem solving to help those who experience the traumatic effects or war, violence and/or natural disaster. They work with both adults and children. Their approach allows for the expression of the individual’s deepest fears and traumatic experiences to be shared and creates the opportunity for healing to occur.
This past October, members of the ArtReach Project America team, Christiane O’Hara, PHD and Timothy Puetz, PHD presented in Washington DC at at an invitation only National Summit called Arts in Healing for Warriors. This summit created interdisciplinary dialogue that highlighted important elements of the future of arts and medicine in the military. A keynote presenter Ambassador Jean Kennedy Smith, along with other prominent speakers described the evidence base for the efficacy of arts programs in promoting recovery from illness and injury, with special emphasis on resilience, psychological healing, family strengthening, reintegration, and other topics of interest to the military.
If you would like to learn more about their arts based healing model, you can download Promoting Children’s Emotional and Mental Health in Communities Traumatized by War: The ArtReach Foundation Model.