Arts, Health and Creativity

Now open | taught by Dr Eliza Burke

Course description

Welcome to the University of Tasmania’s online short course exploring arts practices and creativity in healthcare. In response to student feedback, this course combines the previously offered 8 short courses into a single, comprehensive course of 8 modules. The materials and activities you will find in this short course are designed to provide you with an introduction to the broad field of arts/health research and the application of arts practices in the clinical and expressive therapies, and community and personal health settings. 

A FREE 100+ page Activity Guide will be provided as part of your enrolment in the course.

Each of the 8 modules addresses a different area of creative practice in healthcare, and is designed to take approximately 8-10 hours to complete. They offer introductory research, community-based case studies and hands-on activities for you to explore the frameworks and potentially experience the benefits of arts-based health practices for yourself. You will be guided through the learning material with easy to follow lessons containing: readings and questions for each focus area; a range of guided hands-on activities; inspirational ideas and discussion boards where you can share your ideas and learning experiences with others from all around the world.

Module 1: The Art of Wellness: Visual Arts and Health explores personal and community health and wellness strategies using visual arts mediums. Each online lesson showcases the applied use of creative visual practices including drawing and painting, photography and sculpture in healthcare settings. The module is designed to introduce you to a range of practices that promote focus and connectedness to ourselves, our relationships and the world around us. You will learn how these practices are used in clinical assessments, expressive therapies and community healthcare initiatives. Central to your learning are many hands-on visual arts activities including contour drawing, mandala making, photography exercises, clay sculpture and assemblage, aimed at introducing the key principles of visual arts based practices in healthcare.

Module 2: Crafting Health: Craft and Creative Media explores the application of traditional crafts and contemporary craft practices for healthcare and personal wellbeing. Techniques covered include paper crafting, collage and origami, textile based practices such as quilting, and manual arts such as wood carving and metal work. The module will focus on how the repetitive or structured processes of craft activities make them ideal for community based and personal health projects and blend creative expression with functional outcomes. The module includes a range of case studies and hands-on activities designed to introduce you to the key principles of craft practices in clinical and expressive therapies and community health projects.

Module 3: Inspired by Nature: Outdoor Therapeutic Environments explores how natural and urban spaces can be used to create and/or experience health and wellness opportunities. A wide variety of topics will be covered including environmental design for mental and physical health, creative interventions such as ‘popups’ in civic spaces, the value of parks and playgrounds for adult and child health, sacred spaces, and nature walking. Practical activities are designed to facilitate a connection and/or reconnection to the natural and built environments that surround us in personal and community contexts.

Module 4: Healing Spaces: Indoor Therapeutic Environments explores the concepts of “place-making” and sensory connection in community healthcare and home settings to enhance health and wellbeing. Online lessons cover the relationship between light and space in architecture, the creation of sensory and immersive environments and the benefits of viewing and being surrounded by art in clinical and other institutional settings. You will have the opportunity to apply your new knowledge and participate in several practical activities around discovering and creating therapeutic interior spaces.

Module 5: Creative Expressions: Story Writing, Poetry and Journaling explores a range of writing and reading practices and their application in healthcare and wellbeing contexts. It is designed to introduce you to some of the clinical research on writing as a mode of therapy and some of the key forms of writing and reading used in therapeutic contexts such as expressive writing, poetry, journaling and bibliotherapy. It also explores a range of community arts/writing projects that harness the power of writing for the purposes of political and social expression, and invites you to explore how collaborative writing can create awareness of social health and wellbeing issues and provide opportunities for connecting to others. Central to this module is a variety of practical writing and reading activities designed to introduce you to the benefits of creative written expression in healthcare and for personal wellbeing.

Module 6: The Act of Health: Drama and Performance explores dramatic practice as a methodology for enhancing health and wellbeing in both community settings and for individuals. You will have the opportunity to learn about applied and interactive drama and performance in health contexts from both a viewer’s perspective and as a participant. Topics covered include the use of comedy in clinical settings, role-play for healthy relationship building and self-expression, and practices of ritual and celebration for community and personal health. Structured, practical activities will introduce you to the key principles of dramatic practice for personal and community wellbeing.

Module 7: Responding to Sound: Music and Voice explores instrumental, vocal and recorded sound as creative mediums used in clinical and expressive therapies and community health contexts. A wide variety of topics will be covered including ambient music and meditative sound, individual and choral singing and rhythm based practices such as drumming. You will explore some of the health benefits of music-based practices such listening, breathing and singing and be introduced to a selection of artists who create music within therapeutic contexts. Central to your learning will be several sound-based activities that introduce you to the key principles of sound and music practices in healthcare.

Module 8: Health in Motion: Dance and Movement explores the power of using our bodies as vehicles of expression and the many physical benefits of dance and movement in healthcare. Modules cover the histories and concepts behind dance movement therapies for health and wellbeing, the role of traditional and modern dance forms in clinical and psychotherapeutic contexts, and the structured practices of tai chi and yoga for personal health. Amongst the many topics you will have the chance to explore the role of dance in supporting individuals with Parkinson's Disease, the expressive practice of Authentic Movement and new practices in contemporary dance that explore non-traditional approaches. Practical activities will guide you through the applications and benefits of dance and movement for individual, group and community health and wellbeing.

Students who complete all 8 modules will receive a free personalised Certificate of Participation.

We hope you enjoy your arts and health journey with us!

Student Feedback

“I have thoroughly enjoyed doing this course. It was superbly organised, rich, intelligent, exciting and valuable, both personally and professionally. I am SO IMPRESSED by the robust content and have been greatly enriched academically and psychologically by the learning components and activities. The support material (videos, interviews, samples and references ) and online feedback add to the depth and scope of the course.

"I appreciate the opportunity to have been able to do this course to give me a broad outline of the arts and wellness. It provided an incredible insight into what is actually happening out there with arts and wellness across all the art forms and the success that is being achieved and lives enriched through and by art."

“The best part of the course for me was the references, being able to find research and literary sources to support the types of projects and programs that I am hoping to put in place for a new arts health centre.”

“I have just finished this short course. I found it wonderful!!! Loved all of it. As a visual artist this has helped me to look at more towards bigger and more inclusive art projects.”

Dr Eliza  Burke
Dr Eliza Burke

Dr Eliza Burke is an interdisciplinary researcher and writer with an MFA in Art Theory (University of Tasmania) and a PhD in Cultural Studies and Comparative Literature (Monash University). She is also an independent art curator and has held a variety of project co-ordination and management roles in the arts industry and the tertiary education sector. She teaches and has assisted on many research projects across the disciplines of Sociology and Art Theory, with particular expertise in mental health and gender theory, and contemporary arts practices. She has published her own research in Feminist Media Studies, Australian Feminist Studies and Counselling, Psychotherapy and Health and regularly contributes to the Asia-Pacific arts magazine, Artlink.

Course Curriculum