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Art therapy helps rehabilitate ADF personnel

Art therapy helps struggling ADF personnel come to terms with their deep issues."

When you think of the Australian Defence Force (ADF), the creative arts is not the first thing that comes to mind.

However, the ADF is running art therapy to help rehabilitate service men and women. While it may sound new-aged and even ridiculous to some, it is an incredibly effective program that is changing the lives of those involved.

Turning brute force into a tour de force

This four-week Arts for Recovery, Resilience, Teamwork and Skills (ARRTS) program commenced in mid-May and will run until June 9, when a showcase performance will be held for the 21 participants' significant others.

Last year, the ADF trialed the program with 18 participants in May, with another program running in November with 27 taking part. Corporal Daniel Cooper participated then after being diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) two years previously. He found the program incredibly useful, and this is just one example of the success stories.

"There is definitely a long-term benefit," Corporal Cooper shared with News Corp Australia. "I have come out of my shell and regained my self-belief."

"I keep a visual diary and lose myself in my art rather than my mind racing and me going downhill."

The ARRTS program followed a successful original production, "The Long Way Home", which toured nationally in 2014 to great acclaim. The original play written by Australian writer Daniel Keene was created in collaboration with the Sydney Theatre Company, delivering first-hand accounts of the ADF's experiences in the Middle East.

"The Long Way Home" received a four star review The Guardian's Vicky Frost."The Long Way Home" received a four star review from The Guardian's Vicky Frost.

Art therapy as a recognised treatment

As described by Dr Josee Leclerc, associate professor of creative arts therapy at the Concordia University in Montreal, art therapy is a "mind-body intervention". It provides a way for sufferers to express their emotions and come to terms with their experiences in a somewhat subconscious way that avoids the pressure of verbal communication.

"[We] will continue to implement programs and initiatives to reduce stigma and barriers to improve access to treatments."

Head of the ARRTS program Brigadier Wayne Goodman agreed that while it may sound unconventional, it is definitely working.

"Defence will continue to implement programs and initiatives to reduce stigma and barriers to improve access to treatments," said Brigadier Goodman, "and the ARRTS Program is just one avenue - something a little bit out-of-the-box - to support this."

With over 60 participants having gone through the programme after this installment, with injuries ranging from PTSD to physical wounds, the phenomenal success will likely see it developed and grown in coming years.

Interconnect Systems has a comprehensive background in aerospace and defence engineering, being an industry leader for more than 20 years. It provides electrical interconnect products and solutions, including cable and wire harness manufacture. For more information on the best backshells and cable harness solutions, contact Interconnect Systems today on 1800 812 214 FREE.

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