Using arts and crafts in occupational therapy

  • Date

    Fri 1 Sep 17

Woman taking a photo of a flower

Occupational therapy students have been taught creative techniques by local artists which they can use in their future professional practice.

Occupational therapists work with people of all ages to help them overcome the effects of disability, illness, ageing and trauma. To explore how they could use arts and crafts as therapy, workshops in creative writing, cardboard sculpture, wildlife photography, and weaving were arranged for MSc Occupational Therapy students.

Dr Wendy Bryant, Senior Lecturer in our School of Health and Social Care said: “The creative writing sessions equipped the students with different ways of thinking about storytelling, which can be used very successfully to encourage reminiscence and reflection in older people. Weaving and sculpture showed them how beneficial group art projects can be to encourage people to communicate. Photography can be a good creative outlet to recommend to clients.”

Student Gracie McKibbin particularly enjoyed the sculpture session, led by local visual artist Nicola Burrell. Gracie’s group worked together to create a large cardboard sculpture.

“I don't think I could have anticipated that this activity could involve so many skills,” said Gracie. “I now feel that it could be useful for clients in a therapeutic setting as it was a truly cohesive group activity which encouraged us to communicate with each other in order to problem-solve. I went to each session open minded but certainly had some pre-conceived ideas, which I'm pleased to say have been challenged.”

Petra McQueen is a published author and ran the creative writing sessions.

“Teaching the occupational therapy students was delightful,” said Petra. “Through a series of exercises we looked at how to tackle the blank page and how to enable clients to write about their lives. The students learned that creative writing can be a tool for healing.”

Ang Cass from Weird Weave and wildlife photographer Liz Huxley ran the other sessions.