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Art therapist visits North America to investigate digital art therapy for people with terminal illness

Author: Tom Moran
25 August 2015

Michèle Wood has recently returned to the UK from a four-week trip to the US and Canada – thanks to a Winston Churchill Travel Fellowship – where she met a wide range of people involved in the therapeutic applications of technology.

An art therapist at the Marie Curie Hospice in Hampstead, London and senior lecturer at the University of Roehampton, Michèle started her journey in Vancouver, before moving on to Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Toronto, New York and Washington DC.

Michèle’s goal was to learn how digital art therapy is being implemented in North America to help her develop ideas for joined-up 24/7 art therapy services for people living with terminal illnesses in the UK.

As well as attending the Art Therapy and Digital Technology Forum in Vancouver and the American Art Therapy Association’s 46th Annual Conference in Minneapolis, Michèle visited a number of experts including Olena Darewych, a past president of the Canadian Art Therapy Association.

She also observed a computer art therapy group for inpatients of a Brooklyn psychiatric facility and joined a studio audience for a live TV broadcast within Mount Sinai’s Children’s Hospital in New York.

"It has been incredible to discover the diversity of applications for technology in art therapy and beyond, from avatar therapy, to animations and short films, and software for mess-free painting; all with the same aim of giving people previously unable to take up therapy services the opportunity to do so," Michèle said of her trip.

Michèle will be presenting her findings in October 2015 at the University of Roehampton’s Centre for Arts Therapies Research. She also kept a blog about her time in North America: Power in our hands: Researching digital art therapy in palliative care.

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