The Creative Forces®: NEA Military Healing Arts Network is committed to conducting and disseminating rigorous biomedical and behavioral research conducted in clinical settings, focusing on the biological, psycho-social, and comparative cost effectiveness of impacts and effectiveness of art therapy, music therapy, dance/movement therapy, and therapeutic writing on service members, veterans, families and social networks. The conceptual frameworks for art therapy, music therapy, dance/movement therapy, and therapeutic writing guide research proposals toward the clinical needs of military-connected patients served by Creative Forces patients and similar programs.
In 2021, Creative Forces is implementing a systematic research program. Findings will be used to further advance research and treatment for military-connected populations, as well as other clinical treatment groups. Creative Forces also aims to promote research collaboration across the partnering federal agencies, private foundations, state agencies, etc., to advance knowledge, leverage subject-matter expertise, and promote the use of best practices to benefit targeted patient populations. Specifically, the research will identify the optimal content, timing, frequency, duration, and candidates for these therapies. The conceptual frameworks establish a theoretical foundation for research activities, identify the intended outcomes for the creative arts therapies disciplines, and explain how the interventions achieve those outcomes. This is essential groundwork for theory-driven research. The conceptual frameworks reflect the differences in the level of development of clinical practice and research in art therapy, music therapy, dance/movement therapy, and therapeutic writing. For art therapy and music therapy, the proposed research questions included underlying hypotheses based on theory and research in the respective fields. Through stakeholder input and an iterative review process, one question was prioritized for each of the two disciplines and serves as the basis for the RCTs proposed in those conceptual frameworks. A progressive research program was designed for dance/movement therapy, leading to a conceptual framework. The proposal for therapeutic writing creates a foundation for using common protocols across Creative Forces sites and for exploratory research.