Saturday, April 30, 2011

Comic Book Therapy For Troops

The Pentagon has created a new program to help troops returning from active duty deal with their experiences by having them create graphic novels or comics. The program has a typical government/military convoluted name: “Online Graphic Novel/Sequential Art Authoring Tools for Therapeutic Storytelling".

Art therapy is an interesting process where, per the American Art Therapy Association, therapists "use the creative process to help people of all ages improve their emotional well-being". Basically by creating art that can display emotions, the artists can release and explore those emotions.

What makes comics or their longer versions - graphic novels - especially effective is that the artists not only make works of art but also use narrative to write a story. So it is in essence a dual outlet - they can put into words via another character how they felt and are feeling in addition to the visual elements.

Wired Magazine has a full article detailing one soldier's experiences with this therapy and the program in general.