14-Sep-2020 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM - September 14, 2020 to October 26, 2020

How to create and sustain an arts-based program in your occupational therapy practice

Online course

September 14, 2020 to October 26, 2020 (6 weeks)

Arts-based programs can bring new forms of joy and creative occupations for your clients, improve well-being, reduce isolation, and build vital communities based on shared passions, connection and purpose. These approaches, pioneered by occupational therapists using crafts and creative activities in the early days of the profession (Friedland, 2011) have resurfaced as potentially meaningful ways of addressing leisure and productivity across all age and ability groups. Arts-based programs have been shown to be effective for older adults with mild cognitive impairment (e.g., Lee et al., 2018; Mahendran et al., 2018), people living with dementia (e.g., Windle et al., 2018), adults with cancer (e.g., Wiswell et al., 2019), adults with depression (e.g., Biomdahl et al., 2018; Ciasca et al., 2018), and community-based psychiatric rehabilitation services (e.g., Oren et al., 2019), amongst others. In the United Kingdom (UK), doctors are beginning to ‘social prescribe’ arts and culture for improving health and well-being (e.g., Richman et al., 2018). Social isolation is becoming a growing concern today. Recent reports in the UK reveal the importance of health and social engagement across the life span; citing how various forms of programs, including the arts, can reduce social isolation (Durcan et al., 2015).

This online course equips you with the knowledge and skills to start using and to tailor an arts-based program with clients in your occupational therapy practice. The stages of building an arts-based program will be explored, from finding your champions, engaging a diverse group of stakeholders, grant writing and budgeting, creating the studio environment, and incorporating research. Examples from the presenter’s practice, a knowledge translation film, quiz questions, experiential art and music activities completed as homework, and group discussion boards will be utilized to give you a broader understanding of the topic and its relevance for your clients.

Additional Resources required for this course:

  • All-purpose Journal with blank pages (11 x 8.5)
  • Additional art supplies to be listed prior to the start of the course

Preliminary syllabus:

Week Presentation topic
Week 1
(September 14-20, 2020)
Introduction to arts-based programs

Overview of evidence on arts-based programs
Week 2
(September 21-27, 2020)
From practice to research knowledge translation and film making

Discoveries made from 3 phases of research

Knowledge translation film "What's Art Got To Do With It?"
Week 3
(September 28-October 4, 2020)
Occupational therapy and arts-based programs

Instructions for mindful watercolours
Week 4
(October 5-11, 2020)
Funding, grant writing and sustaining arts-based programs

Development of the Creative Works Studio program (case example)

Nourishing your own creativity
Week 5
(October 12-18, 2020)
Creating a culture of connection, community and enablement

Songwriting, music and recording to stage (case example)
Week 6
(October 19-26, 2020)
Tailoring arts-based programs to various populations

Creative Journal and Homework Exercises

Expected time commitment:

Approximately 1.5-2 hours per week for 6 weeks

Goals and learning objectives:

By the end of this online course, you will be able to:

  1. Explain what arts-based programs are and how they may be helpful in your occupational therapy practice.
  2. Understand how to begin your creativity journey and its impact on bringing out the creativity in you and your clients.
  3. Explore and incorporate your own creative abilities.
  4. Learn how to create a safe space for creative expression and build a studio environment.
  5. Incorporate creative activities and arts-based programs into your occupational therapy practice.
  6. Incorporate celebratory experiences like art exhibits and pop-up stores to enable new occupational roles as ‘artists’ for your clients.
  7. Tailor arts-based programs to various populations and throughout the health continuum.
  8. Describe various funding models to be able to sustain an arts-based program.

Target audience:

Occupational therapists, occupational therapist assistants, and students in occupational therapy programs or OTA/PTA programs who wish to use creative activities in their occupational therapy practice to improve occupational performance, connection, joy and well-being for clients. For additional information about the evidence on arts-based approaches with your client populations, you may search PubMed . Other health professionals interested in using arts-based approaches are welcome to attend.

Please note: Each participant is responsible to ensure they apply the information within the context of their licensure, provincial/territorial legislations, institution regulations, scope of practice, etc.

Areas of practice

Mental health, Cognitive, Vocational Rehabilitation, Palliative/End-of-Life Care, Health Promotion and Wellness, Researchers

Client age groups

Adolescents (13-19 years), Adults (20-64 years), Seniors (65+ years)


Beginner (0-2 years of experience in using an arts-based approach with clients)

Those with more experience with arts-based programs are welcome to attend


Isabel Fryszberg, OT Reg. (Ont.)

Isabel Fryszberg, builds resilience and health through creative engagement. Isabel is a Status Lecturer at the University of Toronto. Isabel is also an arts-based, registered occupational therapist, visual artist, singer songwriter and documentary filmmaker. She works with many non-profit groups, health, corporate and social organizations to create wellness through the arts. She is the founder of Creative Works Studio, the innovative, arts based, occupational therapy program for adults living with mental health and addiction issues which she ran for over twenty years in her role as creative lead at St. Michael’s Hospital. In collaboration with research scientist Janet Parsons and members of Creative Works Studio she produced the documentary film What's Art Got To Do With It? which aired on the CBC documentary channel. She also spearheaded a music album "Coming Out of Darkness” with community participants who named themselves the Social Mystics. She has presented at conferences nationally and internationally throughout her career and conducted workshops and training opportunities for students and staff on art-based approaches. Isabel integrates all her creative endeavors with integrity and a passionate desire to combine art making and well-being. https://www.isabelfryszberg.com/

Registration fees:
Early bird rates: Registration and payment completed by August 5, 2020

CAOT Member and Associates

CAOT Student Associates and Retired Members

Non member*




Plus applicable taxes

Regular rates: Registration and payment completed between August 6, 2020 and September 9, 2020

CAOT Member and Associates

CAOT Student Associates and Retired Members

Non member*




Plus applicable taxes

Registration deadline : September 9, 2020

Please note that CAOT has reduced the registration fee for all registrants instead of offering a group rate. When available, CAOT offers late registration for online workshops at the regular rate plus a $50 administration fee. We will only be able to accommodate if there is sufficient space. Please note that it is your responsibility to still complete the course content in the allocated time frame and extensions will not be provided for late registrants.

*In many cases it would be more cost effective to become a CAOT Member or Associate rather than pay the non-member rate. See “Can a non-member register for a Workshop?” in our Workshop FAQ to know which membership category you are eligible for. 

Included in your registration fee:
Five-week online course with access to recorded webinars, script of presentation content, electronic copy of presentation slide handouts, quiz questions, discussion board; opportunity to network and make connections with other occupational therapists interested in this topic; electronic certificate of attendance (12.0 hours).

Please note that you are responsible for any costs related to the art supplies for the homework activities related to this course.

Technical requirements:

For optimal setup, please ensure you have access to a computer with stable Internet connection, Adobe Flash Player version 13.0 or higher, and one of the following Internet browsers: Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Edge. The use of headphones to listen to the webinar recordings is recommended.

**FAQ: Will this online course be recorded and made available to watch at a later date?:
This online course includes access to prerecorded webinars. You will be sent an email when the content for the new week is available and you will have one week to view the webinars for that week. The estimated time commitment to complete this online course is 1.5-2.0 hours per week for the 6-week period between September 14, 2020 and October 26, 2020.

Cancellation/refund policy:

All cancellation/refund requests must be sent in writing to education@caot.ca. All cancellation requests received prior to September 9, 2020 will be given a full refund minus a $50.00 administrative fee. All cancellation/refund requests after September 9, 2020 will be given a 50% refund. Substitutions are permitted, subject to a $50.00 administrative fee.

CAOT reserves the right to modify the workshop title, description, registration dates and information on the workshop webpage. CAOT will notify participants on or before August 7, 2020 if there is insufficient registration by that date and reserves the right to cancel a Workshop due to insufficient registration up until August 21, 2020. CAOT reserves the right to modify the offering, interrupt Workshops, change the timing of a Workshop, cancel a Workshop or change the technology for the Workshop due to the presenter no longer being able to present the Workshop, severe weather, power failure, building closures or other special circumstances that are beyond the control of CAOT by notifying participants as soon as possible. If the Workshop is cancelled by CAOT, registrants will receive a full refund of the registration fee. CAOT will not be responsible for other costs or expenses incurred by registrants as a result of any such changes.

Additional questions?
If you would like to inquire on accessibility options available to you, please contact education@caot.ca or 1-800-434-2268 ext. 222. Please note that a script of the prerecorded webinars will be provided to you for accessibility purposes.

If you would like to attend this course in person, please complete this brief survey to let us know . Please note that the registration fee may vary from one location to another as there are different costs involved.

Please do not hesitate to contact us at education@caot.ca or 1-800-434-2268 ext. 222 should you have additional questions or concerns.

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