By Adriana Paredes –SAI Staff Writer

“Wherever the soul is in need, art presents itself as a resourceful healer.”

— Shaun McNiff Ph D, Art therapist

The visual arts are being used as a means to help people heal from painful experiences that are too difficult to express in words. Melissa Walker, creator of The Healing Arts Program on the campus of the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, uses art as a way to help service members heal from traumatic brain injuries and psychological health issues, including post-traumatic stress disorder.

The program helps recovering service members find a creative haven where their buried post-war thoughts and emotions can come to the surface through art and therapy. By working on art projects, vets confront the circumstances of their injuries and begin to overcome uncertainty they might feel.

Walker says that creating art slows down the brain so people can focus and improve their cognitive skills and hand-eye coordination.  In one exercise, service members design a mask, a montage and a postcard in any design with any materials they want, from magazine clippings to beads and paint. Most of their artistic creations reflect their inner thoughts concerning deployment, their injuries, various war experiences, and their futures.

Afterwards the groups discuss their creations. Sharing their artwork establishes a sense of community and bonding with one another, which is particularly helpful to those with post-traumatic stress who tend to isolate themselves and don’t trust others.

The Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner proposed that artistic therapy works with the principle that illness has its roots in the soul and that artistic work is an expression of the soul. Artistic therapy works to strengthen and bring harmony and balance to the whole human being, helping to resolve illness.

According to metaphysician and aura specialist Barbara Y. Martin, simply admiring and enjoying great works of art has a tremendous uplifting and healing effect. “One can see an aura around a work of art or a beautiful painting reflecting its creative vitality. In a very real sense, the artist has put a piece of his or herself in that creative expression. By taking time to observe a painting, that uplifting energy can be transmitted to the recipient,” according the Martin.

Dimitri Moraitis, executive director of Spiritual Arts institute adds, “From the beginning, art has been part of the path of spiritual attainment. Art can speak right to the soul and reminds us that we are all inherently creative. One of quickest way to heal distressing conditions is to participate in creative activity.”

Next time you don’t have words to express how you feel, reach out for your art materials. Give your soul the opportunity to experience the healing power of the visual arts.

Source: http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=67465