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New course aims to heal through creative arts

[by Monique Paschke]

Michelle Moss and Tony Lee. Image: supplied

The healing power of art, music, play and dance is the foundation of a new course at Charles Darwin University (CDU).

The Graduate Certificate and Diploma in Creative Therapies will teach students how to apply creative healing practices from Indigenous and cross-cultural perspectives when working with people who have experienced trauma.

The course follows the success of the “Turn ‘em around” healing model, developed by CDU lecturer and researcher in the College of Health and Human Sciences Dr Michelle Moss and Larrakia artist and healer Anthony Duwun Lee.

The model used art and play therapy tools, including 12 handmade Indigenous marionettes, to raise awareness about child trauma, safety and to help communities talk about tough issues.

Dr Moss said the new Creative Therapies course would draw on the success of the “Turn ‘em around” model, blending Western approaches with Indigenous healing practices to help alleviate the impact of trauma in some of Australia’s most disadvantaged communities.

“Indigenous people in Australia have experienced trauma through colonisation and dispossession, with significant impacts on people’s connection to country, language, culture and identity,” Dr Moss said.

“This ongoing cycle of trauma is having devastating effects on remote communities, creating greater disadvantage and poorer health and wellbeing outcomes.

“We know standard methods of therapy do not work for many Indigenous people. This course aims to change the way care is delivered by training highly skilled Indigenous and non-Indigenous creative therapists.”

Dr Moss said the course would teach students how to harness creative tools to connect, nurture, and educate. She said creative therapy could be delivered through a range of methods, including art, music, play, dance and storytelling.

“The course has been developed collaboratively with Indigenous knowledge holders who know how to deliver care and therapy in a way that works in remote communities,” she said.

“All the teaching and study units will be supported by Indigenous knowledge and healing practices and we encourage as many Indigenous students as possible to apply.

“We want all our future students to know that this course will provide an accessible way for people to begin higher education study. If you’re interested, let’s have a yarn and make it happen.”

The Creative Therapies graduate certificate and diploma have been designed for people working in health, community services, justice, education, as well as those who work in Aboriginal and cross-cultural communities. The course will be delivered flexibly online and is scheduled to begin in semester 2.

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