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Introduction to Art Therapy for Educators

Workshop: LIVE ONLINE via Zoom

Hosted by Dr Unnur Ottarsdottir, art therapist, artist and teacher

Dates: 9th & 23th of May and 6th of June 2020 11:00 AM – 14:00 PM

About this course

Who is this course for?

The course is open for educational professionals who would like to facilitate coursework learning and emotional well-being of their students through:

  • understanding the emotional process included in the art-making
  • integrating to a larger extent art making into their students’ coursework learning

Course content

Insight into the basic theories and practice of art therapy is offered in the course by means of lectures, reading, written text, discussions and workshops, whereby participants take part in the creative process and experience the opportunities facilitated. Knowledge of one’s own art making increases self-awareness and gives participants an understanding of the art making process of their students. A number of ways to create artwork will be introduced in the course, with the aim of increasing creativity, strengthening identity and facilitating both self-awareness and emotional well-being, as well as to facilitate coursework learning, including memorising. Prior knowledge or experience of art is not required for participation.

The aims of the course are to:

  • Introduce the basic methods and theories of art therapy
  • Present ways of creating images which facilitate expression of thoughts and feelings, coursework learning, creativity, self-image, social skills and well-being
  • Increase understanding about how problems, emotions, thoughts and contexts can be expressed through art making
  • Offer participants a means to learn about themselves through their own imagery
  • Explain the function and potential included in application of memory drawing
  • Provide the knowledge that memory drawing is generally an effective long-term memory aid for coursework learning as well as for processing emotional material related to stress and/or trauma.
  • Explain that art therapy theories and methods are an essential part of memory drawing when applied within therapy and education.

“What you offered to us who participated in the course was an opportunity to stop, look, review and rethink. Your presence allowed us a certain freedom to be, just be present there and then in the moment, which can only be created through respect for the individual and belief in the individual's abilities.”

Sonný Hilma Þorbjörnsdóttir, teacher and artist

Course structure

Module1 – 1st week

11:00 – 14:00 – 9th of May 2020

An insight into the field of art therapy will be provided, including an introduction to its basic theories and practice.

Module2 – 2nd week

11:00 – 14:00 – 23rd of May 2020

Introduction to memory drawing and the basic theories and methods in relation to its application.

Module3 – 3nd week

11:00 – 14:00 – 6th of June 2020

Applying drawing and memory drawing to education.


Sixteen years ago, art teacher and compulsory school teacher Ásta Þórisdóttir attended the Introductory Course I – What is Art Therapy? She says:

"The knowledge I gained from attending the course has been of great use to me throughout my career of working with children and adolescents, and it still is. I learned to understand that the art created by the children and teenagers who I work with has important underlying meanings. What I learned in the course has proved useful for understanding a wide variety of symbols and signs in the artwork.

My understanding of the art has in some cases opened up a dialogue with the students which I have then been able to share with other professionals. For example, I have managed to present difficulties which the children express in their artwork at team meetings with other professionals.

Sometimes the message in the children’s artwork is quite clear. Art teachers and other staff are in a perfect position for developing an understanding of an individual’s condition and overall well-being through the images they create. I think the course should be part of the core of teacher education programmes. I would be the first person to attend a continuing art therapy foundation course for professionals."

Sonný Hilma Þorbjörnsdóttir, teacher and artist:

"What you offered to us who participated in the course was an opportunity to stop, look, review and rethink. Your presence allowed us a certain freedom to be, just be present there and then in the moment, which can only be created through respect for the individual and belief in the individual's abilities. You gave us a framework and I think we all adjusted to it without fear of being judged. What we learned about art therapy and the insight you provided into that world was immeasurably valuable for me. Giving keys to that world to someone who is ready to open up will increase our possibilities to work on and support ourselves and others. You are a great teacher, Unnur, and hopefully I will get the chance of meeting you again soon and experience and learn more and more and more."

Unnur Óttarsdóttir

Dr Unnur Ottarsdottir has worked in a preschool, secondary schools and a high school as a teacher, special education teacher and art therapist. She is a part-time art therapy lecturer at the Iceland University of the Arts and at the continuing education department of the University of Akureyri. She is also a practising researcher at the Reykjavik Academy.

Unnur has practised art therapy in various institutions and in her private practice for 30 years. She runs an art therapy clinic in Iceland, specialising in treatment for children and adults dealing with traumatisation 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 memorisation and emotional processing.

Unnur has given lectures and written chapters and articles about art therapy and memory drawing which have been published internationally.

Unnur conducted a research study into long-term memory of drawings and words. This is the first time that comparisons between drawn images and written words over such an extended period of time has been studied worldwide.


You can also find me on the following website and social media platforms:


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