Australian-first research into the role of art therapy for Post-Traumatic Stress is now underway thanks to your support of The Road Home. Whilst art therapy has helped many living with this silent injury, to date there has been no research to support its benefits in Australia. Now that’s all about to change!

Academic Researcher Holly Bowen from the University of South Australia has been awarded a three-year PhD scholarship funded by The Road Home to explore the benefits of art therapy with the aim of seeing it become a prescribed therapy for Post-Traumatic Stress patients in the future.

With a background in psychology and having a long family history in emergency services, Holly is passionate about helping those who put their lives on the line for our nation.

“The main aim of my PhD is to show art therapy is as an effective therapy for veterans and emergency service personnel suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress. The hope is it then can be considered a serious therapy for clinicians to consider prescribing and to help reduce the stigma of seeking this treatment,” Holly explained.

To begin her PhD, Holly will conduct an audit of service providers around Australia to see the availability of art therapy as a treatment option before hosting in-depth interviews with existing art therapy patients and their social networks including family, work and local community. Following this she’ll kick-start the main aspect of her study which will involve recruiting up to 30 veterans and emergency service personnel who have been affected by Post-Traumatic Stress and haven’t tried art therapy before.

“Patients will have regular art therapy sessions at the Jamie Larcombe Centre with resident artist Karin Foxwell and will then complete questionnaires which track their perspectives of treatment and their Post-Traumatic Stress symptoms to give us an idea on how art therapy has impacted them,” Holly said.

“We are also exploring the possibility of utilising biomarkers to provide evidence of physiological and neurological changes of Post-Traumatic Stress symptoms. This is especially exciting, because we’re looking at utilising cutting-edge brain imaging techniques which have never been utilised for Post-Traumatic Stress research in Australia, and it would be the first time it’s ever been used for art therapy research across the globe.

“My goal is to see art therapy taken more seriously as a psychotherapy, and to see more training implemented for clinicians to understand the benefits of art therapy. Ultimately, we’d like to see art therapy programs established and rolled out to doctors and clinicians to prescribe to their patients as a form of treatment all across Australia.”

Both Holly and her supervisor Dr Kobie Boshoff is excited for the potential impact this PhD study could have for the treatment and care of people battling Post-Traumatic Stress.

“For veterans and emergency service personnel to be able to express their emotions in an art form is very important for them, especially as it’s a primarily non-verbal therapy. It’s an additional therapy that hasn’t been explored before which could be a very powerful outlet for patients,” Kobie said.

Holly is grateful for your support of The Road Home, which has allowed her the opportunity to change the lives of our servicemen and women.

“The funding for this project is invaluable,” Holly said.

“It’s extremely hard to get funding for an adjunct therapy and if it weren’t for The Road Home generous donors this project would not be possible.”

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