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Art Ther (Alex). 2016;33(4):169-177. doi: 10.1080/07421656.2016.1226643. Epub 2016 Oct 20.

Art Therapy and Cognitive Processing Therapy for Combat-Related PTSD: A Randomized Controlled Trial.

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Art therapist at the University Neuro-psychiatric Institute, University of Utah, Salt Lake City.
Staff psychiatrist at the Hampton VA Medical Center, Hampton, VA, and faculty member in the Department of Psychiatry at Eastern Virginia Medical School, Norfolk.
Community faculty.
Professor in the Graduate Art Therapy and Counseling Professions Program, Eastern Virginia Medical School.


This randomized controlled trial was designed to determine if art therapy in conjunction with Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) was more effective for reducing symptoms of combat posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) than CPT alone. Veterans (N = 11) were randomized to receive either individual CPT, or individual CPT in conjunction with individual art therapy. PTSD Checklist-Military Version and Beck Depression Inventory-II scores improved with treatment in both groups with no significant difference in improvement between the experimental and control groups. Art therapy in conjunction with CPT was found to improve trauma processing and veterans considered it to be an important part of their treatment as it provided healthy distancing, enhanced trauma recall, and increased access to emotions.

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