Background: The COVID pandemic has caused uncertainty, anxiety and instability. Within educational frameworks, many arts therapists needed to shift rapidly to working online. This abrupt transition has challenged their skills and professional confidence, and constitutes a risk factor for increased professional burnout. The Israel Ministry of Education took a series of steps, one of which was a 30-hour remote arts therapy course that was offered during one of the peak periods of the crisis. Aim: The present study examined the ways in which this programme provided online skills and lessened the risk of burnout in arts therapists in the education system. Method: Fifteen female arts therapists gave the research team access to the assignments they wrote at the beginning and end of the course. The data analysis was based on the principles of Consensual Qualitative Research. Results: The analysis dealt with four main domains: (1) Participants’ expectations from the course. (2) Participants’ acquisitions and insights. (3) Participants’ feedback and recommendations. (4) Field applications. Overall, at the end of the course, the participants reported that they saw more possibilities in the remote arts therapy format. Conclusion: Rapid and focused support contributed to the arts therapists’ sense of certainty, control, ability and flexibility in their work. Implications for practice: Remote arts therapy is here to stay. Other similar courses should be offered for arts therapists working privately and publicly. Focused support during major changes in the therapeutic setting are recommended to prevent the risk of burnout and maintain the efficiency of therapy. Plain-language summary: In the State of Israel, at the beginning of the COVID pandemic, more than 3,500 arts therapists employed in the education system were declared vital workers. These therapists have continued their therapeutic work with tens of thousands of children and adolescents across the country through remote arts therapy. The Israel Ministry of Education took a series of steps, one of which was a 30-hour remote arts therapy course that was offered during one of the peak periods of the crisis. The present study examined the ways in which this programme provided online skills and lessened the risk of burnout in arts therapists in the education system. The study involved 15 female arts therapists who participated in a remote arts therapy advanced training in the education system, which took place from October to December 2020. The participants gave the research team access to the assignments they wrote at the beginning and end of the course. The assignments made it possible to examine what the arts therapists learned from the training, the tools they acquired and whether and how they felt they had benefitted from it. Overall, advanced training programme allowed the participants to become familiarised with theory, and explore therapeutic practices and ways of using the arts in the online space. The training format also enabled the participants to share and help each other. Clearly, these courses specifically related to the online format are important and should be recommended in the future both for arts therapists in the education system and for graduate students as part of the curriculum.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research was funded by the Office of the Chief Scientist, Ministry of Education, Israel [grant number 23/11.20]. We would like to thank Anat Marnin-Shaham, the national supervisor of creative arts therapies at the Special Education Division of the Israel Ministry of Education for all her help. In addition, we would like to thank all our participants for their time and efforts. Some have agreed to be mentioned by name: Michal Aviram Weiner, Yael Bruno, Irit Belity, Tali Oppenheim, Sharon Shpringer, Malka Haddad Preger, Danna Marmor Allergand, Michelle Pachevsky, Vardit Katzav and Nirit Better.
© 2022 British Association of Art Therapists.
- COVID pandemic
- Remote arts therapy
- education system
- professional training
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Psychology