You are here:

New research highlights the benefits of art therapy using military museum collections

Latest Stories

Our Head of Research Prof Dominic Murphy and Senior Art Therapist Jan Lobban have published a new research paper highlighting the effectiveness of using military museum items in art therapy sessions for veterans with mental health problems.

Titled ‘Military museum collections and art therapy as mental health resources for veterans with PTSD’, the paper has been published in the International Journal of Art Therapy.

In 2019, Combat Stress and Hampshire Cultural Trust collaborated to provide art therapy groups for veterans with PTSD. Each session involved looking at specific items from the museum’s collection, making a creative response through image-making or creative writing; and then discussing their ideas.

Although military experiences were the cause of the veterans’ mental health problems, and traumatic memories were stirred by the museum items, the sessions created a sense of belonging to help tackle the isolating effects of PTSD. Veterans were also able to tap into their military expertise and knowledge in a way that counter-balanced the weight of their distressing memories of military experiences. This was found to have a positive impact on their wellbeing.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the group sessions moved to an online platform and digital art therapy was found to be equally effective. It will be used in the future to involve veterans who cannot physically attend groups due to distance or agoraphobia.

Jan said: “It is a great privilege to have our paper accepted for publication in a special edition of the International Journal of Art Therapy.

“The study is a contribution towards increasing awareness of the potential of military cultural heritage as a mental health resource for veterans with PTSD. The evidence suggests that participants experienced a sense of belonging which promoted self-confidence and enabled social interaction.

“Given the current restrictions due to the pandemic, we were pleased to find that this was the case both when the sessions were museum-based or when held digitally.”

The full research paper will be available shortly.