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Art therapy program offers veterans creative way to deal with anxiety

News 4 Jax

authour:Lena Pringle

Painting through the chaos.

North Florida/South Georgia Veterans Health System is offering a creative arts therapy program designed to give veterans new ways to deal with fear and anxiety through art and music.

U.S. Air Force veteran and breast cancer survivor Kris Patrick says art therapy has given her an outlet to help cope with her anxiety.

“When I’m painting or we’re talking about my feelings and stuff, I just ... tears start falling and I can’t stop that. But I’m told that that’s what I am supposed to do. You’re supposed to release it and it does,” said Patrick.

“For Kris, she’s the person that is there for everyone else. She’s the person that helps, that’s why she is so good at her job. So, for her to kind of be vulnerable and let her emotions out was very difficult for her, I think. But the art process allowed her that vulnerability. And I feel like that’s what art therapy does for many people in all different kinds of circumstances,” said Sarah Stephens, a creative arts therapist.

The importance of participating in the program became even more crucial after Patrick underwent a mastectomy earlier this year.

Despite being in the monitoring stage for reoccurrence of breast cancer, she feels uplifted due to her newfound love of painting.

“When I painted about like chaos, I’ll go back and look at it and think about it you know. What is it really telling me or showing me, how do I feel about it?” said Patrick.

“It’s just a different way to process the things in life that lead us to depression or lead us to anxiety that no other therapy can do. Because it’s so abstract, it’s so spiritual. It’s just this process that allows you to meet yourself where you’re at, to figure out what you need to figure out through your art process,” said Stephens.

Painting through chaos to create a picturesque view on life.

The Creative Art Therapy program at NF/SGVHS is offered through VA Video Connect, and at the Malcom Randall and Lake City VA Medical Centers.

Veterans enrolled for primary care, rehabilitative care, and/or behavioral health services at NF/SGVHS are eligible to receive creative arts therapy.

Those veterans interested in the program can ask for a creative art therapy consult during their next NF/SGVHS appointment.

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