Art Therapy in a Military Hospital: Power & Integrity in the Workplace

Paula Howie, MA, ATR-BC, HLM

This film demonstrates the vital importance of creativity and artistic expression for military members and their families. Standing as a unique intervention within this regimented setting, the Art and Activities Therapy Programs introduced participants to the power of self-expression, self-understanding and introspection, as well as helping them deal with stress, ameliorate feelings of isolation, increase self-esteem and self-worth, and solicit mutual support. Paula Howie, HLM, who was director of two major programs at Walter Reed, introduces the film, which in addition to its focus upon treatment, illustrates principles deemed important for establishing and growing a complex Art Therapy Program within the military. Paula does not sidestep the conflicts and interactional stresses, which were as much part of the life in this facility as was training students and facilitating client treatment. Her personal focus has always been upon long-term goals including how highest standards of treatment, student training, and quality research can ensure the place of art therapy in this milieu for many years to come. This included emphasizing long-term benefits of the program rather than short-term goals and gains. Four clients who describe their experiences in treatment and expound upon what they learned about themselves through their work join Paula in this overview. Finally, Dr. Donna Betts describes her internship training while at Walter Reed and some challenges she encountered while working there. Excerpts follow from a pediatrics group, which Donna and a fellow intern led. In the end of the film, Donna describes her current work in the Creative Forces Program as chief researcher and part of Walter Reed Military Medical Center.

Commentary by Paula Howie, MA, ATR-BC, HLM

Total Running Time: 1 hour, 3 minutes, 32 seconds



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