Creative Forces: NEA Military Healing Arts Network

Clinical Therapy

Photo over the shoulder of a soldier drawing

The NEA funds creative arts therapists, equipment, and supplies at 11 clinical sites across the nation, and a telehealth program for patients in rural and remote areas. Military partners provide a functional space for the clinical therapy sessions, collaboration on clinical care, and patient referrals.

In clinical settings, creative arts therapists provide art, music, and dance/movement therapies, as well as creative writing instruction, for military patients and veterans with traumatic brain injury and psychological health conditions. As part of Creative Forces, creative arts therapies augment the many different types of therapy offered as part of a patient-centered clinical care model. Creative arts therapies aren’t “nice to have” capabilities in this model of care, they are “NEED to HAVE” services.

Creative Forces creative arts therapists deliver an estimated 1,000 treatment sessions per year, reaching about 200 new patients every year. Typically, a patient treated by a Creative Forces creative arts therapist has multiple sessions to ensure therapeutic goals are attained. In 2018 Creative Forces will support approximately 14,000 encounters and treat 2,800 new patients.

Telehealth

Through the Creative Forces program, the NEA is working with the North Florida/South Georgia Veterans Health System, and their Rural Veterans TeleRehabilitation Initiative, as well as the University of Florida’s Center for Arts in Medicine. This collaboration provides creative arts therapies to patients in rural and remote areas of North Florida and South Georgia. Creative Forces is also implementing a similar program in Alaska, allowing patients from Basset Army Community Hospital in Fairbanks to receive creative arts therapies from providers working at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage.

U.S. map with stars indicating Creative Forces clinical sites

IMPACT

Creative arts therapies are non-invasive, non-medication-based, and reduce healthcare costs.  These treatments have wide-ranging impact:

  • PHYSICAL: Promotes physical rehabilitation -- improved cognition, memory, sensory-motor function, impulse control, concentration, and sleep.

  • EMOTIONAL: Promotes psychological health -- improved interpersonal and communication skills, management of difficult emotions (frustration, grief, anger), and reduced depression, stress, and anxiety.

  • ECONOMIC: Less time spent in medical care and therefore lower healthcare costs.