Coloring alone may not be the cure-all for the symptoms of PTSD, but coloring coupled with other forms of treatment have proven to help the healing and the recovery process.
Coloring gives some people the courage to overcome their diagnosis and symptoms since it provides them with a positive and judgement-free outlet. Since they are making something meaningful they can see their work becoming an art, which is a truly rewarding experience.
Most people feel edgy, depressed, scared, and anxious after experiencing and/or witnessing these types of events; however, most are able to successfully adapt and overcome those feelings within weeks, possibly months.
Post-traumatic stress disorder is a type of mental-health issue that one may develop after being involved in or witnessing a potentially life-threatening events.
Unfortunately, the PTSD sufferer is unable to let go of the thoughts, feelings, emotions, and scenes from the experiences or events. While classified as a mental health disorder, imaging and other medical tests have established that PTSD actually changes the brain on a physiological level to meet the mental needs of the sufferer.
Art therapy uses creative mediums like drawing, painting, coloring, and sculpture. For PTSD recovery, art helps process traumatic events in a new away. Art provides an outlet when words fail. With a trained art therapist, every step of the therapy process involves art.
The easiest and most enjoyable of these tasks is something everyone can do and most everyone enjoys – coloring!
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There are research and studies that have been conducted diving into why coloring specifically is a positive treatment for PTSD.
If you would like to start engaging in coloring therapy today to aid in overcoming the challenging symptoms and complications of PTSD, visit us today for free coloring pages: http://www.bestcoloringpagesforkids.com
Coloring Therapy May Aid in the Neuroplasticity of PTSD Sufferers
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Art therapy excels for body work because clients manipulate artwork outside themselves. By externalizing difficult pieces of their trauma stories, clients begin to safely access their physical experiences and relearn that their bodies are a safe place.
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A trained art therapist will have at least a master’s degree in psychotherapy with an additional art therapy credential. Many therapists may advertise they do art therapy. Only those with certified credentials (ATR or ATR-BC) have gone through the rigorous training essential for PTSD treatment. The Art Therapy Credential Board’s “Find A Credentialed Art Therapist” feature can help you find a qualified counselor.
If used properly, the party drug known as MDMA may help people with PTSD, anxiety, and other serious ailments.
Now that we know that art therapy can help people who are diagnosed and suffering from mental health conditions, which includes PTSD, we are going to dive into how the art form of coloring can specifically help.
Clients examine feelings and thoughts about trauma by making a mask or drawing a feeling and discussing it. Art builds grounding and coping skills by photographing pleasant objects. It can help tell the story of trauma by creating a graphic timeline.
Through methods like these, integrating art into therapy addresses a person’s whole experience. This is critical with PTSD. Trauma is not experienced just through words.
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In recent years, neuroplasticity has gained a lot of attention. Essentially, this is the brain’s capacity to change and engage in the process of adaptation on a physiological level; however, many scientists, neurologists, and other medical professionals believe that it could also aid in psychological changes and adaptations, too.
While talk therapy has long been used for PTSD treatment, sometimes words can fail to do the job. Art therapy, on the other hand, works because it provides an alternative, equally effective outlet for expression, say experts.
In order for a PTSD sufferer to experience improvements in their symptoms, the symptoms will need to be improved. The most effective method for this process is to engage in tasks that promote neuroplasticity.
It might sound strange that coloring can actually help those who have PTSD cope with their experiences and symptoms. However, coloring has many therapeutic health benefits, including:
Increases concentration and focus Serves as a distraction from other thoughts (in this case traumatic flashbacks) Allows for creative expression Helps with problem-solving and organizational skills Brings you back to a childlike state of mind Allows you to be in the present moment Relieves anxiety and depression Acts as a form of meditation Improves sleep Decreases stress Stimulates the mind Creates positive thoughts Serves as a harmless or low-risk activity
Today, art therapy helps me deal with a traumatic time in my life. And I hope that soon enough, that time will be a memory I can choose to leave alone, never to haunt me again.
Art therapy can act as a form of treatment or an aspect of treatment, and for patients serves as a safe space. There are countless studies that have been conducted on the practice and benefits of art therapy.
Adds Curtis: “When you bring art or creativity into a session, on a very, very basic level, it taps into other parts of a person’s experience. It accesses information … or emotions that maybe can’t be accessed through talking alone.”
The sufferer is able to reclaim the authorship of their memories and persona through coloring. This helps to transform negative experiences, emotions, memories, and events from something that uncontrollably invades the person’s life to a part of who they are and how they function.
Examples of these events may include war, terrorism, violence, sexual battery and/or assault, an accident, and/or a natural disaster.
Renée Fabian is a Los Angeles-based journalist who covers mental health, music, the arts, and more. Her work has been published in Vice, The Fix, Wear Your Voice, The Establishment, Ravishly, The Daily Dot, and The Week, among others. You can check out the rest of her work on her website and follow her on Twitter @ryfabian.
Coloring has especially become instrumental as I recover from PTSD.
There are ways people diagnosed with PTSD can receive treatment, in the forms of antidepressants, psychotherapy, and other medications. One lesser known treatment for helping those who suffer from PTSD is by using art therapy.
Overall, the attempt of art therapy is to reconcile emotional conflicts, reduce anxiety, increase self-esteem, help manage behavior and addictions and encourage patients to explore their feelings. It is often practiced in hospitals, psychiatric facilities, rehabilitation facilities, schools, crisis centers, senior communities, as well as other clinical and community settings.
When a person suffers from PTSD, it often is coupled with depression, substance abuse, and memory and cognition problems. Many people with PTSD often try to avoid thinking or talking about their traumatic event, so as to not trigger the flashbacks. People also will avoid being put in similar situations or even potentially risky situations, for fear of triggering traumatic flashbacks.
There are millions of people who suffer from intense life-altering events who turn to forms of therapy to help them cope with the symptoms and side effects that come along immediately or months after the event took place. Therapy could range from anything like prescription medication to coloring.
Coloring therapy seems to guide in helping a PTSD sufferer understand the true impact of that which has occurred in the past on their limiting beliefs so that they will no longer impede their functioning.
“When seeking art therapy for trauma, it’s important to seek a therapist who is specifically knowledgeable in the integration of trauma-based approaches and theories,” advises Curtis. “It’s important to note that any intervention done with visual and sensory materials can also be triggering to the client and should therefore only be used by a trained art therapist.”
Since PTSD evokes strong images, like those flashbacks and nightmares we talked about earlier, it makes sense that the healing process is to use imagery as well. The art therapist might encourage the patient to draw a self-reflection of themselves and their experiences, which can aid in the diagnosis and recovery process. Also, oftentimes people who suffer from PTSD have difficulty discussing their experiences, so bringing in drawing and coloring into the process provides an outlet for them to share without necessarily saying anything at all.
Traumatic flashbacks disrupt our body and mind. Coloring, a repetitive act helps re-establish a steady rhythm and flow while changing the neurological response. And since coloring elicits a calming effect, it acts as a form of meditation to relieve the symptoms and stresses that come along with PTSD.
PTSD recovery also involves reclaiming the safety of your body. Many who live with PTSD find themselves disconnected or dissociated from their bodies. This is often the result of having felt threatened and physically unsafe during traumatic events. Learning to have a relationship with the body, however, is critical for recovering from PTSD.
PTSD is a psychiatric disorder resulting from a traumatic event. Terrifying or threatening experiences like war, abuse, or neglect leave traces that get stuck in our memories, emotions, and bodily experiences. When triggered, PTSD causes symptoms like re-experiencing the trauma, panic or anxiety, touchiness or reactivity, memory lapses, and numbness or dissociation.
Are you someone who suffers from PTSD and has used coloring to help you cope? Share your experience with us – we would love to hear your story.
To find an art therapist qualified to work with PTSD, look for a trauma-informed therapist. This means the therapist is an art expert but also has other tools to support survivors on their recovery journey, like talk therapy and CBT. Art will always remain the centerpiece of treatment.
Sufferers must be provided with the opportunity to recount that which has resulted in trauma and reframe the experiences and images as “meaningful”, while attaching them to their inner belief system. Coloring may serve as a productive vehicle for the outward expression and the externalization of emotions and memories that are deep-rooted and extremely intense.
The re-experiencing and flashbacks of their trauma, causes intense emotions and physical reactions of hopelessness, fear, anxiety, depression, and panic, just as they experienced the first time the event was taking place. This negativity affects their physical and psychological well-being and health.
Although coloring can be used as an alternative to other forms of medication and treatment, you should always consult with your doctor or psychiatrist before using coloring solely as your form of PTSD treatment. Since the therapeutic effects of coloring differ depending on the person and severity of issues.
“Traumatized people chronically feel unsafe inside their bodies,” writes Bessel van der Kolk, MD, in “The Body Keeps the Score.” “In order to change, people need to become aware of their sensations and the way that their bodies interact with the world around them. Physical self-awareness is the first step in releasing the tyranny of the past.”
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a psychiatric disorder triggered by a life altering (or series of life alternating) or terrifying experience(s). Many people associate PTSD with those who have served in the military since we understand that their experiences at war are often fairly traumatic. However, more than just veterans are affected with over 5 million U.S. adults suffering from PTSD in a given year.
It also goes hand-in-hand with the process of neurogenesis, which is the creation of new brain cells. Today, many medical professionals are linking coloring therapy and neuroplasticity to result in positive effects for those that suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) due to various types of traumas experienced.
Recall a time that was mildly frightening to you. How did you try to overcome that event in your life? Did you take a long walk? Confide in a friend? Seek professional treatment? Or try to shut the memory down completely?
PTSD can be triggered by any life-threatening experience, such as natural disasters, sexual assault, physical abuse, illness, acts of terrorism, car accidents, and as I mentioned above, military experience. PTSD causes those who suffer from it to have flashbacks, panic attacks, or even nightmares from their frightening experience(s). These frequent flashbacks can affect a person’s sleeping habits, social activities, interaction in society, as well as daily tasks they may come across, including their occupation and relationships.
Art therapy is a form of psychotherapy which involves the use of self-expression as a remedial activity or an aid to a diagnosis. The creative form of self-expression could be through painting, drawing, writing, coloring, dancing, sculpting, modeling, playing instruments, singing, or any other creative form of expression.
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Coloring mandalas, or other geometric patterns, specifically have many positive therapeutic benefits for PTSD sufferers. Studies have been conducted on how coloring mandalas or other geometric patterns have proved to aid in therapy. However, coloring most images and designs will help people relax and relieve their anxiety.
Coloring calms the amygdala, which is responsible for our flight or fight responses in our mind. People suffering from PTSD are in a heightened state of mind from their worrying, stress, anxiety, and panic due to those traumatic flashbacks. Coloring can help turn that flight or fight response down, which allows the mind to relax.
Also, if you know anyone who can benefit from the powerful benefits of coloring, please let them know to check out Coloring.Club and ColorIt.Com to get all of their supplies and inspiration for using coloring as a coping mechanism.
However, people experience PTSD through memory, emotion, and the body. Talk therapy and CBT may not be enough to address all of these areas. Reliving trauma is difficult. That’s where art therapy comes in.
This is why many experience symptoms that are both physiological and psychological – such as hyperarousal, high blood pressure, anxiety, depression, emotional outbursts, fatigue, and start to develop physical health problems.
Medically reviewed by Timothy Legg, PhD, CRNP on May 23, 2017 — Written by Reneé Fabian
Yet there’s more to art therapy than coloring, despite what the adult coloring book trend may suggest. They’re onto something, though, as I’ve learned through my own experience. Art therapy, just like talk therapy, has enormous healing potential when done with a trained professional. In fact, for those with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), working with an art therapist has been a lifesaver.
Coloring also activates both parts of the cerebral hemispheres, since it involves both logic and creativity. For example, you pick a color you want to color with, this is logic, and then you use that color to shade in an aspect of the design, this is creativity.
From the point of development to the day in which we pass on, there are connections that occur within the cells of our brain based on our environment, our experiences, and the changing needs that we incur as a result of those situations. Neuroplasticity has long served as a critical factor in the recovery from brain-related illnesses and injuries.
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When I color during therapy, it creates a safe space for me to express painful feelings from my past. Coloring engages a different part of my brain that allows me to process my trauma in a different way. I can even talk about the most difficult memories of my sexual abuse without panicking.
“Traumatic memories typically exist in our minds and bodies in a state-specific form, meaning they hold the emotional, visual, physiological, and sensory experiences that were felt at the time of the event,” says Erica Curtis, a California-based licensed marriage and family therapist. “They’re essentially undigested memories.”
Using art therapy to treat PTSD addresses the whole experience of trauma: mind, body, and emotion. By working through PTSD with art, what was a terrifying experience that caused lots of symptoms can become a neutralized story from the past.
Hyperarousal is commonly caused by post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD can affect people of any age, including children.
“Art expression is a powerful way to safely contain and create separation from the terrifying experience of trauma,” writes board-certified art therapist Gretchen Miller for the National Institute for Trauma and Loss in Children. “Art safely gives voice to and makes a survivor’s experience of emotions, thoughts, and memories visible when words are insufficient.”
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Doctors have been making successful attempts at rebuilding connections among the sensitive nerve cells in our brains for decades. Neuroplasticity is a type of “rewiring” of the brain.
Recovering from PTSD means working through these undigested memories until they no longer cause symptoms. Common treatments for PTSD include talk therapy or cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). These therapy models aim to desensitize survivors by talking and expressing feelings about the traumatic event.
Coloring therapy helps the PTSD sufferer become the “master” of their life and effective regain “control” over themselves and their emotions.
“Art therapists in particular are trained to use media in all kinds of different ways and that might even be helping getting somebody more in their body,” Curtis says. “Just like art can bridge feelings and words, it can also be a bridge back into feeling grounded and safe in one’s body.”
Curtis is also a board-certified art therapist. She uses art-making throughout the PTSD recovery process. For example, to “help clients identify coping strategies and internal strengths to begin the journey of healing,” they may create collages of images representing internal strengths, she explains.