Creative Forces: NEA Military Healing Arts Network

Research

Creative Forces invests in research on the impacts and benefits – physical, emotional, social, and economic – of creative arts therapies as innovative treatment methods.

Creative Forces is committed to the pursuit and promotion of clinically relevant biomedical and behavioral research on the effectiveness of creative arts therapies for service members, veterans, family members, and caregivers.  Several strategies are critical to the success of our research program.  They include: informed selection of rigorous research designs; support for multisite studies; funding of research opportunities at Creative Forces sites, and collaboration with other health/rehabilitation disciplines and partners.

Key clinical research findings indicate that creative arts therapies can:

  • Enable recovery from traumatic experiences through meaning-making, positive reframing, and verbal processing.
  • Reduce symptoms associated with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) including flashbacks and nightmares/interrupted sleep.
  • Improve awareness and tolerance of PTSD/TBI symptoms such as hypervigilance, pain, and stress.
  • Encourage development of healthy independent coping mechanisms through creation of a safe environment and therapist/patient rapport.
  • Channel aggressive behaviors and provide a means to address anger and anxiety through creative expression and improved self-regulation.
  • Foster the ability to experience hope, gratification, and increased confidence through strengths-based rehabilitation.
  • Reduce isolation and stigma through meaningful interaction with others and improved communication with family, peers, and providers. 

A catalogue of completed, current, and pending research and clinical practice papers is included in the Creative Forces Research Inventory. The Creative Forces Clinical Research: A Strategic Framework and Five-Year Agenda (2018-2022) establishes the strategic objectives for Creative Forces clinical research and provides a five-year plan for achieving those objectives.

More information on research associated with art therapy.

More information on research associated with music therapy.

Additional research links:

  • The Creative Forces Clinical Research Summit took place September 18-19, 2017 at the National Academies of Science in Washington, DC. The event provided an opportunity to gather world-renowned experts to discuss effective approaches to creative arts therapies practice and research pertaining to military populations.

  • The National Endowment for the Arts Guide to Community-Engaged Research in the Arts and Health
    Responding to a need identified by the federal Interagency Task Force on the Arts and Human Development, the NEA commissioned this guide from the cognitive neuroscientist Julene Johnson, PhD, UCSF, and the arts consultant Jeff Chapline, New Art Horizons. It advises arts practitioners and biomedical or behavioral health researchers how to partner effectively in documenting and studying the contributions of community-based arts programs to positive health outcomes. (2016)