Creative Arts Therapies as a Treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Creative arts therapies use a variety of creative mediums; art, music, dance, drama, and poetry to treat a range of disorders. Creative arts therapies are relatively new, having emerged in the 1940s. They were developed as a way to treat patients who were severely disturbed and could not completely benefit from talking therapies. Given their relative recency, creative arts therapies have not accumulated the amount of empirical support that CBT has. However, empirical support is growing and creative arts therapies are already considered a successful treatment for post traumatic stress disorder, among other disorders.
The success of creative arts therapies is due to the use of many of the same therapeutic elements that are used in CBT. For instance, all forms of creative arts therapy utilize exposure. Not only is the trauma imagined, but it is also represented in a physical or constructional behaviour, such as painting or a performance. This use of both in vivo (imaginal) and in vitro (external) exposure can be especially helpful in overcoming the avoidant tendencies seen in PTSD.
In addition to the components that creative art therapies share with CBT, they also feature group interaction. This component aims to improve interpersonal relationships, communication skills and work functioning, which will ultimately aid patients in smoothly resuming a normal life. Finally, creative arts therapies may be favoured by patients as they are considered less invasive, and have not received the same 'hardcore therapy' reputation that CBT has (Foa et al, 2009).