Museum-based art therapy and wellbeing programme: experiences of veterans with PTSD

Julia Baumann, Natasha Biscoe, Karen Burnell, Janice Lobban, Dominic Murphy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Engaging in creative arts and heritage have both been shown to improve wellbeing.

Aim: The aim of the current study was to explore veterans’ experiences of attending the Creative Wellbeing Programme (CWP) in a military museum.

Methods: Seven veterans who attended the CWP programme were invited to share their experiences through a qualitative, semi-structured interview. The interview explored experiences of engaging in this type of programme and the impact this had on them. The interview was transcribed, and a thematic analysis was conducted.

Results: Themes concerned three stages of involvement; Pre-programme, Programme experiences, and Post-programme. Pre-Programme themes concerned reasons for participation, pre-programmes feelings, hopes and expectations. Programme Experiences concerned general experiences, the role of social support, the role of the museum, and the art therapy process. Post-Programme themes concerned perceived outcomes. Overall, the museum created a relaxed and informal environment, and the familiar items in the museum stimulated the creative process. However, for some this led to disengagement due to fear that objects may prompt negative emotions.

Conclusions: The findings suggest that engaging veterans in art therapy in a museum environment is beneficial. Future programmes should aim to focus on support post intervention.

Implications: The study provides insight into the acceptability of art therapy within a military museum environment. It also adds to the growing international evidence concerning the role museums have in supporting mental health and wellbeing.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)142-149
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Art Therapy
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 31 May 2023

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