Art Can Heal PTSD’s Invisible Wounds | Melissa Walker

Melissa Walker, a creative arts therapist, starts her talk by describing a story in which a man is imprinted with a traumatic event for seven years, leading to post-traumatic stress disorder. Though she doesn’t know exactly what this is like, she describes what her grandfather’s was like. He was her inspiration for pursuing a degree in art therapy. She calls PTSD an invisible scar. For decades, men suffered with this illness in silence because there was no real word for it. She has worked with these people for many years, teaching them to relieve their suffering by creating art. She says that art, in any form, engages the left and right hemispheres of their brains. It gives the invisible scars a face. The man in the first story she tells was the experience of one of her patients. He said that looking at the art that represents what he saw made his experience less impactful. She has taken her patients through a process in which they make masks of their experiences. Today, over one-thousand masks have been made. She hopes to continue her work.

Key Points of Video:

  • 1Although solders are surviving more due to advances in protective technology, the effects of war are more prevalent, making PTSD and TBI realities for many surviving service men and women.
  • 2Art is created in the same area of the brain that also is affected by PTSD and TBI.
  • 3Mask making has helped veterans put their experiences into a medium that surpasses their language boundaries that coexist with PTSD and TBI. The act of creation is helping them to heal their emotions and scares while making it easier to talk about negative experiences, reducing their feelings of isolation.

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