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Observational study of associations between visual imagery and measures of depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress among active-duty military service members with traumatic brain injury at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center
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    Applications in medical training

    I read the paper by Kaimal, Walker, Herres, et al. on the use of art psychotherapy in the management of PTSD in war veterans with interest. I am an Australian emergency physician and retrievalist who ‘retired’ into palliative care practice. I have a longstanding role in the support of junior medical staff, and a more recent informal role in mentoring junior consultant colleagues. The increased risks of developing PTSD in both junior doctors and critical care medical staff is well-recognised but there is still debate in relation to effective prevention and treatment strategies in these cohorts. Recent reports in the general media indicate that some Trusts are beginning to use art therapy to support medical staff (https://www.citymatters.london/art-therapy-st-barts-doctors/) and prevent burn-out and PTSD.

    Over the last 12 months, I completed 180 hours of training in art psychotherapy. Part of this process involved engaging in art psychotherapy myself as ‘the patient’. The branch of art psychotherapy in which I was trained stems from the work conducted by Susan Bach from the 1950s through until her death in the mid-1990s, and uses the creation of an image, clay model or mask as the vehicle to explore non-verbal or suppressed meaning, through interpretation of image structure, colour and composition. As shown by the images of masks in this paper, the process is not one of ‘soothing creativity’,...

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    Conflict of Interest:
    None declared.