This study examined the meaning of an eight-week group art therapy intervention with student veterans in a large public university in California. We focused on grounded theory methodology, to evaluate the meaning of the program for participants while bringing their art and narratives as active contributors to the formation of the theoretical frame relevant to their unique lived experience. A systemic analysis integrated clinical notes from the art therapist facilitating the group, pre- and post-intervention semi-structured interviews with all participants, and a systematic exploration of participants’ art responses. Findings indicate that the group art therapy intervention reduced isolation and increased overall well-being while supporting the veterans’ need to process trauma and grief through visual narratives and identity formation. The findings also suggest the need to reconsider the timing of trauma processing and the potential benefit of forming groups based on types of trauma experiences and gender-specific needs.
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- Art therapy
- creativity in counseling
- grounded theory
- group intervention
- student veterans