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Art therapy and education, námskeið haldið á Ítalíu, 20–22 mars, 2020

Tutor Dr. Unnur Ottarsdottir

The course will be held in Italy, March 20–22, 2020.

The course is intended for art therapists working in schools. The participants will be given an opportunity to share their experiences, emotions and thoughts about working as art therapists in schools, thereby gaining perspectives and understandings about their work issues and projects.

Through art making, sharing, discussions and lectures the participants will gain knowledge about the basis of the methods and theories of Art Educational Therapy (AET). Coursework learning is integrated into art therapy in AET through art making with the aim of facilitating coursework learning and enhancing emotional well-being, and specific learning difficulties are observed in relation to emotional difficulties.

One of the concepts of AET, “writing-images”, will be reviewed, which refers to the process of drawing pictures of letters and numbers. The “writing-image stage”, which describes a phase when children experiment with drawing writing-images prior to learning to read, will be discussed. Methods of making writing-images will be introduced. Opportunities to work with writing-images in AET enables the child to reclaim the learning potential of an early developmental “writing-image” phase.


Another method of AET consists of "Memory Drawing”. Such drawing aids individuals in better memorizing various facts related to their studies. A quantitative study conducted by Ottarsdottir showed that over long time periods, it is generally five times easier to recall drawn images of word content than written words. Along with aiding memory retention, memory drawing facilitates processing of emotions and difficult experiences in the same way as the art-making process functions within art therapy.

Dr. Unnur Ottarsdottir initiated art educational therapy (AET). She has written, published and given lectures about AET internationally. Unnur is a part-time art therapy teacher at the Iceland University of the Arts and the continuing education department of the University of Akureyri. She is also a practising researcher at the Reykjavik Academy. Unnur runs an art therapy clinic in Iceland, specialising in treatment for children and adults dealing with traumatization and specific learning difficulties. Her areas of research are art therapy in education for children with specific learning difficulties who have experienced trauma, and art making as a therapeutic and learning approach, including drawing for memorization and emotional processing. Further information can be found at