6-Dec-2019 8:00 AM - 7-Dec-2019 4:00 PM
Sheraton Hamilton Hotel
116 King Street West
Hamilton, Ontario L8P 4V3

How to create and sustain an arts-based program in your occupational therapy practice

Hamilton, Ontario

Friday, December 6, 2019 and Saturday, December 7, 2019
8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. (Eastern Time)

Arts-based programs can bring new forms of joy and creative occupations for your clients, improve well-being, reduce isolation, and build vital communities based on shared passions, connection and purpose. These approaches, pioneered by occupational therapists using crafts and creative activities in the early days of the profession (Friedland, 2011) have resurfaced as potentially meaningful ways of addressing leisure and productivity across all age and ability groups. Arts-based programs have been shown to be  effective for older adults with mild cognitive impairment (e.g., Lee et al., 2018; Mahendran et al., 2018), people living with dementia (e.g., Windle et al., 2018), adults with cancer (e.g., Wiswell et al., 2019), adults with depression (e.g., Biomdahl et al., 2018; Ciasca et al., 2018), and community-based psychiatric rehabilitation services (e.g., Oren et al., 2019), amongst others. In the UK, doctors are beginning to ‘social prescribe’ arts and culture for improving health and well-being (e.g., Richman et al., 2018) in response to the growing concern of social isolation. Recent reports reveal the importance of health and social engagement across the life span citing how various forms of programs including the arts can reduce social isolation (Durcan et al., 2015).

This two-day workshop equips you with the knowledge and skills to start using and to tailor an arts-based program with clients in your occupational therapy practice. The stages of building an arts-based program will be explored, from finding your champions, engaging a diverse group of stakeholders, grant writing, budgeting, creating the studio environment, and incorporating research. Examples from the presenter’s practice, a knowledge translation film, experiential hands-on art and music activities, and group discussion will be utilized to give you a broader understanding of the topic and its relevance for your clients.

Tentative workshop agenda:

Day 1


Introduction to arts-based programs

Overview of evidence on arts-based programs

Link between occupational therapy and arts-based programs

Understanding the effects of social engagement, health and the role of creativity through the lens of occupational therapy and community frameworks

How to foster a safe space to inspire the creative expression of others, build strengths, self-esteem and create an actual studio environment

Creative activity 1: Mindful watercolours

10:00-10:15 Morning break
10:15-12:00 Film “What’s Art Got To Do With It?
12:00-1:00 Lunch (on your own)
1:00-2:30 Creative activity 2: Collaborative painting, mixed media canvas painting
2:30-2:45 Afternoon break

Creative activity 3: Creating your own mixed media canvas

How to begin a creative journey to bring out the creativity in you and your clients

Day 2

8:00-10:00 Enabling new occupational roles as ‘artists’ through celebratory experiences with your clients
(i.e., art exhibits, music performances/CD releases, knowledge translation resources, art products and pop-up stores)
10:00-10:15 Morning break
10:15-12:00 Funding and sustaining arts-based programs
(i.e., identifying stakeholders, forming partnerships within hospitals and non-profits, budget planning, grant writing, sustainability plans, fundraising, staffing, working with volunteers, and working privately)
12:00-1:00 Lunch (on your own)
1:00-2:30 Creative activity 4: Music: Singing and community song writing
2:30-2:45 Afternoon break

Tailoring arts-based programs to various populations and throughout the health continuum
(e.g., team and resiliency building in workplaces, reducing stigma and building capacity in mental health, trauma and women’s health, creating engagement, and reducing isolation from youth through to adulthood, retirement and the elderly)

Sustaining your creative journey and developing a creative work network

Goals and learning objectives:
After taking part in this workshop, you will be able to:

  1. Explain what arts-based programs are and how they may be helpful in your occupational therapy practice.
  2. Understand how to begin your creativity journey and its impact on bringing out the creativity in you and your clients.
  3. Feel more confident in your own creative abilities.
  4. Create a safe space for creative expression and build a studio environment.
  5. Incorporate creative activities and arts-based programs using art and music into your occupational therapy practice.
  6. Incorporate celebratory experiences like art exhibits and pop-up stores to enable new occupational roles as ‘artists’ for your clients.
  7. Tailor arts-based programs to various populations and throughout the health continuum.
  8. Describe various funding models to be able to sustain an arts-based program.

Target audience:

Occupational therapists, occupational therapist assistants, and students in occupational therapy programs or OTA/PTA programs who wish to use creative activities in their occupational therapy practice to improve occupational performance, connection, joy and well-being for clients. For additional information about the evidence on arts-based approaches with your client populations, you may search PubMed. Other health professionals interested in using arts-based approaches are welcome to attend.

Please note: Each participant is responsible to ensure they apply the information within the context of their licensure, provincial/territorial legislations, institution regulations, scope of practice, etc.

Areas of practice

Mental health, Cognitive, Vocational Rehabilitation, Palliative/End-of-Life Care, Health Promotion and Wellness, Researchers

Client age groups

Adolescents (13-19 years), Adults (20-64 years), Seniors (65+ years)

Workshop level:

Beginner (0-2 years of experience in using an arts-based approach with clients)

 Those with more experience with arts-based programs are welcome to attend


Isabel Fryszberg, OT Reg. (Ont.)

Isabel Fryszberg, builds resilience and health through creative engagement. Isabel is a Status Lecturer at the University of Toronto. Isabel is also an arts-based, registered occupational therapist, visual artist, singer songwriter and documentary filmmaker. She works with many non-profit groups, health, corporate and social organizations to create wellness through the arts. She is the founder of Creative Works Studio, the innovative, arts based, occupational therapy program for adults living with mental health and addiction issues which she ran for over twenty years in her role as creative lead at St. Michael’s Hospital. In collaboration with research scientist Janet Parsons and members of Creative Works Studio she produced the documentary film What's Art Got To Do With It? which aired on the CBC documentary channel. She also spearheaded a music album "Coming Out of Darkness” with community participants who named themselves the Social Mystics. She has presented at conferences nationally and internationally throughout her career and conducted workshops and training opportunities for students and staff on art-based approaches. Isabel integrates all her creative endeavors with integrity and a passionate desire to combine art making and well-being. https://www.isabelfryszberg.com/


Registration fees:
Early bird rates: Registration and payment completed by September 4, 2019

CAOT Member and Associates

CAOT Student Associates

Non member*




Plus applicable taxes

Regular rates: Registration and payment completed between September 5, 2019 and November 20, 2019

CAOT Member and Associates

CAOT Student Associates

Non member*




Plus applicable taxes

Please note that for the 2019-2020 workshops, CAOT has reduced the registration fee for all registrants instead of offering a group rate. When available, CAOT offers late registration for workshops at the regular rate plus a $50 administration fee. We will only be able to accommodate if there is sufficient space.

Registration deadline: November 20, 2019

*In many cases it would be more cost effective to become a CAOT Member or Associate rather than pay the non-member rate. See “Can a non-member register for a Workshop?” in our Workshop FAQ to know which membership category you are eligible for. 

Included in your registration fee:
Two-day workshop, supplies for creative activities during workshop, electronic copy of presentation slide handouts, coffee/tea/water during mid-morning and mid-afternoon breaks, opportunity to network and make connections with other occupational therapists interested in this topic, one-hour Q&A webinar with the presenter approximately 1 month following the workshop, electronic certificate of attendance.

The Workshop registration fee has been reduced by $80 by not including lunch and snacks. Lunch and snacks are to be done on your own.

Maximum number of registrants:  

Save the date:
Q&A Webinar

Workshop location:
Sheraton Hamilton Hotel
116 King Street West
Hamilton, ON, L8P 4V3

Special rate for overnight accommodations: 
A special group rate of $149.00 CDN per night (plus applicable taxes) is available at the Sheraton Hamilton Hotel, for December 5 & 6, 2019 for those that book by Friday, November 15, 2019, use this link to book your accommodations

Cancellation/refund policy:
All cancellation/refund requests must be sent in writing to education@caot.ca. Cancellation requests received due to personal or family medical reasons (medical justification required) prior to November 20, 2019 will be given a full refund minus $50.00 administrative fee or after November 20, 2019 will be given a 50% refund. Cancellation requests for any other reason received prior to November 20, 2019 will be given a 50% refund or received after November 20, 2019 will be provided no refund. Substitutions are permitted, subject to a $50.00 administrative fee. 

CAOT reserves the right to modify the workshop title, description, registration dates and information on the workshop webpage. CAOT will notify participants on or before October 25, 2019 if there is insufficient registration by that date and reserves the right to cancel a Workshop due to insufficient registration up until November 8, 2019. CAOT reserves the right to modify the offering, interrupt Workshops, change the timing of a Workshop, cancel a Workshop or change the location of a Workshop due to the presenter no longer being able to present the Workshop, severe weather, power failure, building closures or other special circumstances that are beyond the control of CAOT by notifying participants as soon as possible. If the Workshop is cancelled by CAOT, registrants will receive a full refund of the registration fee. CAOT will not be responsible for other costs or expenses incurred by registrants as a result of any such changes.

Additional questions?
If you would like to inquire on accessibility options available to you, please contact education@caot.ca or 1-800-434-2268 ext. 222.

If you would like to attend this workshop in another location, please complete this brief survey to let us know. Please note that the registration fee may vary from one location to another as there are different costs involved.

We invite you to consult the Workshop FAQ for an immediate response to the most frequent questions we receive regarding Workshops. Please do not hesitate to contact us at education@caot.ca or 1-800-434-2268 ext. 222 should you have additional questions or concerns.