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The workshop is a continuation of the course Research Methodology – Lecture II: Art Therapy Research, Grounded Theory and Drawn Diagrams. Participants are invited to participate in a creative project which offer insight into the diverse opportunities entailed in art making and its contributions to research and academia. No prior experience or knowledge of creative work is required. However, participants must have attended the course Research Methodology – Lecture II: Art Therapy Research, Grounded Theory and Drawn Diagrams.

Research Methodology Workshop

Previous workshop

2014 Grounded Theory: Research in Art Therapy and Drawn Diagrams. Workshop held for art therapy students, University of Hertfordshire, England.

Reclaim Learning Skills through Writing-Images

This lecture presents:

Previous lecture

2014 Nú er námsfærni endurheimt með skrifmyndum. (Now We Reclaim Learning Skills through Writing-images). H-21 Symposium, Reykjavík Academy, Reykjavík. See here: and

art and research relationship

In this lecture it is discussed how the abstract thinking involved in the process of creating art can nourish and cultivate the work of researchers and academics. The lecture elucidates the factors that both academics and artists have in common as they engage in the process of creating new knowledge, projects or theories. Visual art is often based on research and unsystematic observations of the subject matter, which can for example involve sketches. Art work based on such research can therefore be new knowledge. The relationship of art and research in connection with cooperative artwork is also discussed.

Previous lecture

2013 Frjó fræðimennska – fræðileg myndlist. (Creative Research – Academic Art). Paper given at The Icelandic Academy of the Arts, conference on research and creativity, Hugarflug, Reykjavík.

Grounded theory research methodology Lecture

In this lecture, a review is provided of the creative art therapy methods that are applied in research. Grounded theory research methodology, which was applied when analysing the data in the art therapy research, is also introduced.

The research aim was to design, study and test a therapeutic method which could facilitate coursework learning and enhance the emotional well-being in the population selected for the study. Through the research a therapeutic method named ‘art educational therapy’ (AET), emerged.

Creativity is integral to both the art therapeutic process and to grounded theory. Drawn diagrams, which comprise part of the grounded theory method, are visual representations that depict ideas in the form of charts, diagrams and drawn images. The subject of drawn diagrams and the ways they relate to the art therapy research is discussed in the lecture. Arrows, rectangles, circles, connecting lines, words and pictures are drawn in the diagrams and thus render invisible content and contexts visible. Drawing diagrams stimulates creative and abstract thinking as well as conceptualization. Images that are applied to gain a deeper understanding of concepts and phenomena and to process emotions are also covered in the lecture. Research requires a resilience to uncertainty and the drawn diagrams can facilitate a space where uncertainty can become more easily tolerated.

Lectures previously held

2016 Art Therapy Research, Grounded Theory and Drawn Diagrams. Embodied eyes: Contemporary arts therapies. Nordic Art Therapy Seminar, Helsinki, Finland.

2014 Grounded Theory: Research in Art Therapy and Drawn Diagrams. Paper given to art therapy students, University of Hertfordshire, England.

Grounded Theory with Drawn Diagrams

This lecture revolves around grounded theory with an emphasis on drawn diagrams, which are tangible images of ideas in the form of charts, graphs and drawn pictures. Diagrams are comparable to written notes, but when diagrams are used instead of written text they become visual representations of conceptual thought processes. The goal with diagrams is fourfold: to widen the understanding of phenomena, create concepts, render descriptions abstract, and frame a context for various phenomena, categories and concepts. The use of pencil, pen and/or colours in the making of diagrams, which can be based on words, arrows, squares and circles, can stimulate imagination and insight. Examples from an art therapy research project that examined drawn diagrams will be reviewed in the lecture. Drawn diagrams can transfer the subject matter to an abstract arena, which facilitates the creation of theories. The space that is created by means of the diagrams stimulates creative thinking where new discoveries, contexts and connections come to light.

Lectures previously held

2012 Grounded Theory and Drawn Diagrams. Paper given at the Iceland Academy of the Arts, conference on research on creativity, Hugarflug, Reykjavík.

2010 Grounded Theory as Research Method. Paper given at the University of Akureyri, fourth conference about qualitative research, Akureyri.

Processing Emotions and Memorising Coursework

Ways in which drawings facilitate memory function are presented in the lecture. Examples are taken which are derived from a qualitative case study which shows the way in which memory drawings can be applied simultaneously for both therapy and coursework learning. A quantitative study is discussed which revealed that children generally recall drawn images five times better than written words, nine weeks after originally participating in the study. Lecture participants are invited to partake in a simple drawing- and writing exercise which provides insight into various memorization aids and how they work. Moreover, the exercise offers a window into how the research was carried out and how drawing improves memory retention.

The lecture contextualizes memory drawings in terms of the theories of art therapy, psychotherapy, teaching and educational psychotherapy. The means by which memory drawings can bring sensitive and complex emotions to the surface is reviewed, as well as how these emotions can be processed through art making. The importance of art therapy methods and theories is discussed, particularly in relation to providing emotional support for the individual engaged in creating memory drawings.


"I enjoyed your Keynote presentation at the Nordic Art Therapies Conference and think that the memory drawing research that you are doing is very interesting and relevant. When I got home I read your article in the AATA journal.”

Lisa D. Hinz, PhD, ATR-BC

Feedback from participants at the American Art Therapy Association Conference lecture 2019.

Lecture held before

2019 Processing Emotions and Memorising Coursework through Memory Drawing. The American Art Therapy Association Conference. Celebrating 50 Years of Healing Through Art. Kansas City, MO.

2019 Processing Emotions and Memorising Coursework through Memory Drawing. The International Practice/Research Conference. Queen Mary’s University, London.

2018 Research on Processing Emotions through Memory Drawing. Open public lecture at University of Goldsmiths, London.

2018 Processing Emotions and Memorising Coursework through Memory Drawing. Four open public lectures at the Reykjavik Academy, Reykjavik.

2018 Processing Emotions and Memorising Coursework through Memory Drawing. Keynote speaker, 20th Nordic Art Therapies Conference, Hveragerdi, Iceland.

Memory drawings

Visualization has been used as a memory retention technique since the days of the Ancient Greeks. However, drawings have only recently been applied to aid memory, for example in relation to mind-mapping techniques. In 2000, Unnur Óttarsdóttir conducted a study that showed that drawings facilitate long-term memory.

Memory drawings are contextualised in the lecture in relation to related theories, research and methodologies. For example, the reason why drawing facilitates memory is discussed in relation to theories underlying art therapy. Ethical questions are also raised from the perspective of art therapy in relation to memory drawings for children who struggle with emotional and specific learning difficulties.

Lecture held before

2017 Memory Through Pictures. Paper given at the Icelandic Academy of the Arts at a conference on Memory, Hugarflug, Reykjavík.


“Thank you for this interesting and illuminating lecture.”

Kristín Valsdóttir, Dean of the Department of Art Education, Iceland Academy of the Arts.

Introductory Lecture I: What is Art Therapy?

Introductory Lecture II: Art Therapy and Creative Power

basic concepts of art therapy

The lectures are intended for anyone interested in art therapy. The focus of the lectures is on the basic concepts of art therapy, with examples that provide insight into the methods and ideas that form the foundations of art therapy. Participants are invited to work on a simple creative project, which provides insight into the experiences, knowledge and possibilities that art therapy can offer. There are no participation requirements regarding the participants’ prior experience or knowledge of art making.

Participants’ testimonies:

“The lecture was concise and an informative introduction that opened my eyes to new dimensions to work from.”

Þóra Melsted, division manager

“Great presentation which offers a lucid image of what art therapy is all about.”

Ingunn M. Óskarsdóttir, project manager

“The lecture was an interesting presentation of the ways in which art and creativity can be used as a resource for people of all ages who suffer from existential problems.”

Sigurgeir Birgisson, division manager

“The lecture was fruitful and practical, especially given the fact that you can submit questions before the lecture and then receive answers during the presentation.”

Helena Línud Kristbjörnsdóttir, project manager

“The lectures proved to be well received and thought-provoking to both groups! I appreciate the effort and enthusiasm you brought!”

Katherine Gill, Millfields Community School in Hackney, Assistant Headteacher, Inclusion Manager

Art Educational Therapy and Writing-Images

In the art educational therapy (AET) research project introduced in this lecture, coursework is integrated into art therapy with the aim of facilitating emotional well-being and coursework learning. Theories and methods concerning “writing-images” are reviewed in the lecture. The concept “writing-images” refers to drawn images of alphabetical letters and numbers, which form part of the methods of art educational therapy.

During a specific developmental phase, many children draw letter shapes before they develop knowledge about phonetics and symbols that make up the letters of the alphabet. This period is called the “writing-images stage”. The lecture presents ways to work with “writing-images” with the goal of restoring, strengthening and preserving the educational foundation that was formed during the writing-images stage. At the same time, emotional expression through art making is observed through the prism of art therapy. In the lecture, an emphasis is placed on the importance of paying attention to children’s writing-images. The practical aspects of writing-images with regard to therapy and education are also discussed. It is important that participants have acquired some familiarity with art therapy, for example by attending lecture(s) and/or foundation course(s) on art therapy.

Basic principles of art educational therapy

An overview of the basic principles of art educational therapy (AET) is presented in the course. Coursework learning is integrated into art therapy in AET with the aim of facilitating emotional well-being and enhancing coursework learning. In the lecture, examples will be reviewed which provide insight into the methods and concepts of AET. The lecture is intended for everyone interested in AET, including parents and professionals who work towards facilitating emotional well-being, self-development and improving coursework learning. Previous knowledge of art therapy is recommended, for example through having attended art therapy lecture(s) and/or course(s).


“The lecture was informative, a true eye-opener. It sparked a certain kind of hope for the future of children with specific learning difficulties, a hope that their educational difficulties will be viewed from a different perspective and as a result they’ll have greater access to support.”

Rakel Eva Gunnarsdóttir, art therapist, MSc

“I think that the integration of art therapy and coursework learning, as presented in the lecture, is extremely interesting and there is much need for it in the school system. It is therefore necessary to implement this method, given that it would provide significant support for the individual, the teacher and the educational system as a whole.”

Elísabet Lorange, teacher and art therapist, MA

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