Melissa Walker: Art can heal PTSD's invisible wounds
Melissa Walker - Creative arts therapist
Melissa Walker helps military service members recover from traumatic brain injury and mental illness. Full bio
military service member
are exploding all around you.
through the dust and the smoke,
to process what has just happened.
multiple times a day and in your sleep.
for fear of losing your job
to see the face
as post-traumatic stress disorder
post-traumatic stress disorder,
my grandparents every summer.
of combat on the psyche.
as a Marine in the Korean War,
and rendered him unable to cry out.
physical wounds had healed
experiences in waking life.
as I entered the room,
have the tools to guide him.
for my grandfather's condition
towards the study of trauma.
about post-traumatic stress disorder,
who suffered like my grandfather
for post-traumatic stress
a new war was raging,
and military vehicles,
blast injuries they wouldn't have before.
were reaching new levels,
that traumatic brain injury, or TBI,
in technology and neuroimaging,
an actual shutdown in the Broca's,
after an individual experiences trauma.
from their current duties,
of our servicemen and women.
about their experiences,
when I got my first job
largest military medical center,
on a locked-in patient psychiatric unit,
Intrepid Center of Excellence, NICoE,
for active duty service members.
to convince service members,
a psychotherapeutic intervention a try.
nothing short of spectacular.
by our servicemen and women,
of art therapy bypasses
areas of the brain that encode trauma.
to work through their experiences
to their physical creations,
and the right hemispheres of the brain.
with all forms of art --
don't just have a name,
create these masks,
literally, with their trauma.
how often that enables them
and start to heal.
for one of my patients,
of that haunting image.
for the service member,
to think of BFIB as the mask,
and say, "Melissa, take care of him."
to further contain him,
went to leave the NICoE,
didn't feel anxious.
is haunted by some traumatic memory,
these disturbing images,
for thousands of years
to the power to destroy.
that the part of the brain
where healing happens too.
how to make that connection.
impacted his treatment,
You sort of just zone out into the mask.
after two days, I was like,
here's the key, here's the puzzle,"
my treatment just when out of sight,
Kurt, explain this, explain this.
openly to, like, anybody.
right now if I wanted to,
this process with my grandfather,
service members heal,
About the speaker:Melissa Walker - Creative arts therapist
Melissa Walker helps military service members recover from traumatic brain injury and mental illness.
Why you should listen
Melissa Walker is a creative arts therapist at the National Intrepid Center of Excellence, a directorate of Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. She works with active duty service members suffering from traumatic brain injury and psychological health conditions.
Dedicated to helping recovering service members safely express their deep thoughts and emotions in a creative environment, Walker designed the Healing Arts Program at the National Intrepid Center of Excellence in 2010, where she engages her patients in mask-making, a powerful mechanism for helping them express their invisible wounds. Walker received her Master's Degree in art therapy from New York University.
Melissa Walker | Speaker | TED.com