Counselling expands to include creative arts therapy

October 18, 2017

Creative Arts Therapy: Carrissa Wu and Catherine Cresswell are amongst the first students to take this unique course.

Health professional and educators in the Peel region have the opportunity to take advantage of a first in Western Australian counselling education.

Murdoch University’s Creative Arts Therapies course is the only university level arts therapies qualification offered in WA.

Offered at the University’s Mandurah campus, the Graduate Diploma in Creative Arts Therapies is part of a growing suite of Counselling courses on offer through the School of Health Professions.

Counselling lecturer Dr Brenda Bentley said creative arts therapies was an ideal postgraduate choice for allied health professional and educators who counsel people regularly in some capacity of their work. Arts practitioners are also well suited to this professional training as it draws upon their skills within the arts to extend and develop themselves in the arts therapies field.

“Counselling is a way of dealing with stresses faced by people every day, such as work stress and relationships,” Dr Bentley said.

“Creative Arts therapy is a way to practise counselling through expressive arts such as movement, painting or drawing.”

Creative Arts Therapy is a psychotherapeutic intervention that draws upon the unique imaginative and expressive qualities of the arts, including visual art, drama, movement, music, poetry and creative writing.

Dr Bentley said participation in arts therapy brings forward feelings and experiences that may otherwise to be too complex or challenging to address through talk orientated counselling and therapy approaches.

“The arts therapies provide opportunities for active participation from clients for self-expression and depth of self-exploration to bring about change in their experience,” she added.

“It provides a way to bring feelings to the surface without pushing cognitively, and is a particularly great way to teach children and adolescents.”

The arts therapies have been successfully applied in a broad range of contexts and client groups including: intellectual and physical disability, schools, hospitals, outpatient’s clinics, psychiatric and mental illness, addictions, cancer treatment, palliative care, refugees, trauma, chronic pain, veterans, dementia and aged care.

One of the first students to embark on the Creative Arts Therapies course, Catherine Creswell, chose this degree to support her work in a Wellness Centre.

“I began my career in education, and found that art was an important way for children to express their feelings without having to find the right words,” she said.

“There is a really important counselling aspect embedded in the art therapies that I am keen to incorporate back into my profession.

“Eventually I would like to work with children in this therapy area.”

The Creative Arts Therapies group will enjoy working in a purpose built facility from next year, which will support the practical experiential learning of the course.

“This is a very exciting step for Murdoch’s Mandurah campus and there is a lot of demand for this sort of education in the region,” Dr Bentley said.

“We are looking to further expand study opportunities in this area to include a full Masters in Creative Arts Therapies.”


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Media contact: Pepita Smyth
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Categories: General, Teaching and Learning, Future Students, Schools, School of Health Professions
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