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Arts & Crafts in Psychiatric Occupational Therapy


The profession of occupational therapy (OT) has many of its roots in the Arts and Crafts Movement, a response to the industrialized production at the end of the nineteenth century which promoted a return to handcrafting (Hussey, Sabonis-Chafee, & O’Brien, 2007). Its origins also were strongly influenced by the earlier Moral Treatment Movement, which sought to improve the treatment of the institutionalized mentally ill population (Hussey et al., 2007).

Therefore, the use of art and crafts in psychiatric settings has played a significant role in OT from the beginning. Furthermore, a core idea in the development of OT is that “occupation, or doing with the hands, can be seen as an integral part of experiencing a meaningful life” (Harris, 2008, p. 133).

Crafts have many potential therapeutic applications: motor control, sensory and perceptual stimulation, cognitive challenges, and enhanced self-esteem and sense of efficacy (Drake, 1999; Harris, 2008).

 

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