The Effectiveness of Arts in Trauma Intervention

Michael Thomas Zuch


With many people throughout the world struggling with traumatic experiences often leading to to Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), different ways of treating those symptoms have emerged. Expressive arts therapy is the method of utilizing different modalities of art to address specific issues. By framing PTSD and the role of the arts through Abraham Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Needs,” relevant research literature is discussed on the compatibility of the two beyond the level of self-actualization. By looking at three populations with high PTSD rates - refugees, victims of sexual violence, and incarcerated individuals - different art interventions are discussed along with their effectiveness. The literature review found that using the arts is effective among PTSD populations, especially as an enhancer of regular therapy. Several recommendations for further research are given, including the creation of a suitable measurement tool that effectively captures both the quantitative results with qualitative results in addition to ensuring culturally competent therapies.


therapy; PTSD; trauma; arts; music; expressive arts therapy; interventions

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