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Orlagh O'Brien


August 30, 2015

What I learnt from a one day course at the Waterford Healing Arts Trust (WHAT)

August 30, 2015 | By | No Comments


Mary Grehan, Director of the Waterford Healing Arts Trust (WHAT) and Claire Meaney Assistant Director ran a day workshop on August 28th introducing the area of Arts and health. Attendees met Marie Jeanne Jacob, artist in residence and had a great research overview by Stefanie Fleischer.

Arts and Health is not the same as Art Therapy. There is:

  • there is an artistic vision
  • it is not clinical, i.e. it is not therapy
  • a product and/or a process results

Key ideas and values

  • equal partnership
  • choice, consultation
  • parameters
  • boundaries, consent and scope of practice
  • Art about vs Art for
  • the creative invitation (Tess Leak was mentioned for hers: “ What is the most beautiful place for you?”)
  • consent and confidentiality
  • medical issues: the patients’ wellbeing first
  • documentation and evaluation
  • openess of the process
  • health and safety, security, safety.

Successful work involves balanced communication

  • dialogue between artist and healthcare staff
  • both parties needs being met
  • listening and negotiation
  • building relationships

For a coherent explanation check out: p50-51 of The Arts and Health Handbook: a practical guide ( The Arts Council, Ireland)

A chatty lunch followed by hospital roaming

It was a great break to mingle informally with the attendees and pry Marie with questions over lunch.  To prevent post prandial snoozing, we were sent on a scavenger hunt around the hospital was baffling, fun and left most of feeling the uncertainty familiar to many artists and patients entering an unfamiliar healthcare environment.

Presentation: Arts and Health: What are the benefits to patients?A research overview by Stefanie Fleischer. Research to date has shown definite benefits of arts on health in all sectors. More longitudinal research studies are needed.


  1. One: Be entrepreneurial
    Have a creative enterprising attitude. This is to the approach to funding, the building of relationships, creating of ideas and proposals and lastly selling and creating excitement of the work.
  2. Two: Don’t get burnt out
    Balance your practice, have a strand that runs through the work, (e.g Marie Brett)
  3. Three: Budget realistically
    Acknowledge the time involved in the get-to-know-you  and evaluation phases.




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