Artists for the Humanities is a Wisconsin-based non-profit organization dedicated to the usage of expressive art as a tool for healing. A4TH, Artists for the Humanities, assists disabled military veterans and at-risk community populations who have experienced trauma and other challenging situations. A4TH works to support people in need, offering expressive art, art therapy, supportive art programs combined with mental health counseling and guidance. A4TH is committed to directing people towards solving their problems and dedicated to helping them improve the quality of their lives.
Expressive Art Explained
Brain imaging research on combat veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has revealed reduced activity in the area governing speech, and increased activity in areas governing fear, anger, memory, and visual processing. These findings are in keeping with the two types of PTSD symptoms: the so-called “positive” symptoms (hyper-arousal, intrusive thoughts, nightmares, and anger); and, the “negative” symptoms (avoidance and emotional numbing).
There are many ways of treating PTSD, and some are quite effective. However, expressive art has been shown to be effective regarding both the “positive” and “negative” symptoms, while some therapies seem only to address the “positive.” Emotional numbing is an inability to feel any type of emotion, and it must be dealt with for recovery to occur.
In using artistic expression, sufferers of PTSD can make images more or less overtly demonstrative of traumatic events or their feelings aroused by them. This is especially possible for those for whom it is difficult or impossible to talk about such things.
The making of physical art is an externalization (a demonstration outside of self) of the sufferer’s condition and its causes. The revelations of such condition and causes may be emotionally very risky for the individual. Therefore, such activity must be undertaken among others who are trusted to be patient, supportive, and empathetic. To foster this environment, A4TH employs counselors, artists, and mentors—many of whom who are combat veterans themselves.