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ART THERAPY AT THE NEUROPSYCHIATRY UNIT

The Neuropsychiatry Unit is also working in collaboration with the Department of Public Health and School of Psychology and Public Health at Latrobe University who provide a Masters of Art Therapy course to a small cohort of students each year. The program is designed according to the standards of the Australian and New Zealand Arts Therapy Association (ANZATA) - the professional body representing art therapists in Australia. The course provides training to students to combine skills in counseling/ psychotherapy with skills in visual art so that they may enter into a therapeutic relationship with culturally diverse clients of all age groups.

The Neuropsychiatry Unit currently offers a clinical placement, each year, to a student within this program. This provides the opportunity to carry out art therapy based in a mental health and health care setting under the supervision of an onsite clinical practitioner. Research has demonstrated that creative ability generally remains intact in spite of various neurological or psychiatric problems that might be experienced by individuals. Irrelevant of a person’s diagnosis or severity of symptoms art therapy can generally be tailored to meet the needs of each individual. Art therapy is available, through this program to all patients visiting the neuropsychiatry unit in an informal setting and individuals are welcome to come and go as they please. They are also welcome to take any work they have created with them after discharge. Feedback from our patients has suggested that the opportunity to use appropriate creative materials in a supportive environment, can promote a variety of outcomes including;

- keeping people active during their stay on the ward and offering a form of stimulation in addition to the other activities on the ward
- providing a feeling of satisfaction and increased sense of well being which can come out of making a piece of creative work
- finding that self-expression brings relief from current worries, depression, anxiety or other mental health concerns
- enjoying the social benefits of working alongside others in the art therapy space, sharing ideas and humour
- finding the process of creating a piece can stimulate memory and provide opportunities for cognitive stimulation