Studio Art Therapy Group in a Military Hospital

Paula Howie, MA, LPC, LCPAT, ATR-BC, HLM

This informative film shows two videotaped sessions from an open-ended art therapy group, which occurred one hour twice a week. The clients shown were from the transition ward (day treatment) at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. All soldiers on this particular ward were leaving the military, usually with some compensation, and each soldier had to decide and make a personal commitment to attend the group. Paula Howie, HLM, ATR-BC, is the art therapist.

This tape represents a fairly typical session. Group members’ problems included psychosis, depression, and alcohol and drug problems. Yalom’s curative factors in groups informed the treatment, including imparting information, instillation of hope, altruism, universality, recapitulation of the primary family group, socializing techniques, and interpersonal learning. Members on occasion would challenge one another. It was helpful to have clients address one another rather than having the therapist do so. For example, one client says he doesn’t like or believe the nurse who tells him she thinks he is an alcoholic. However, he is able to hear another group member when he offers his personal experience with alcoholism.

The members refer to classes (tracks) offered by psychiatry, nursing, recreation, horticultural, and occupational therapy. Everyone helped to prepare the soldier for leaving the hospital and returning to civilian life. Many had been in the military since they finished high school and were worried about leaving. Some believed all their problems would be solved if they could just “go home”. Although focused on the military, this film is a beautiful example of art therapy with adults in general.

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

Total Running Time: 1 hour, 27 minutes, 22 seconds



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