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The usage of arts and crafts played a significant role in the fruition of the profession, but as it adopted more medically- and evidence-based treatment methods, most practitioners steered away from arts and crafts. The overall purpose of this project was to promote the use of art in OT as well as learn about the current use of art in OT through discussions held with practicing and retired occupational therapists and OT students with fieldwork experience. A portion of the project includes conducting a needs assessment at Urban Street Angels (USA), a community-based facility in downtown San Diego, CA that houses and provides OT services to homeless Transition Aged Youths (TAY) aged 18 to 25 years who may benefit from engaging in arts-and-crafts based occupations, as well as designing a sustainable OT art workshop for the youth. An overall theme identified within the needs assessment was that engaging in artistic occupations or being creative provided these TAY as a mode of self-expression, emotional expression, or communication when their feelings cannot be verbalized.

Following the needs assessment at USA, an artistic workshop, Urban Street Artists, was created for the youths to increase exposure and promote the utilization of artistic occupations as leisure tasks. A total of 8 sessions were created for the workshop, with sessions 1-4 and 8 focused on creative occupations and sessions 5-7 based on teaching the youths how to initiate their own art business and maintaining it on social media platforms.

A second needs assessment was completed by contacting practicing and retired occupational therapists and OT students with fieldwork experience to discuss their familiarity with artistic occupations in their personal and professional lives. Discussions were held with over 25 OT practitioners and students and the most prominent theme identified is that unless the OT practitioner or student has had previous and positive experiences with artistic occupations, then they are less likely to think of them during treatment sessions with patients. Additionally, when asked who and where they believe would benefit from artistic occupations, most of the participants stated that all populations, ages, diagnoses, and settings would benefit from utilizing artistic occupations. The main barrier was primarily funding for materials or lack of storage space. Most settings who typically utilize artistic occupations are generally mental health, pediatric or geriatric settings. Skilled nursing facilities were identified as a setting that many occupational therapists believed would benefit most from utilizing artistic occupations especially with the recent COVID-19 restrictions and patients were limited to their rooms. All populations were believed to benefit from artistic occupations because of the variety of skills that can be worked on, strengthened, or maintained through artistic occupations, such as motor coordination, visual scanning, sequencing, recall, motor planning, among more.

The overall purpose of the capstone project was to understand the current use of art within the field of OT by practitioners and students with fieldwork experience. The needs assessment results determined that artistic occupations still hold value, although engagement is not as common as it once was. Art allows for a person to tap into their creativity, which in turn allows for progress and growth by providing a different outlook within environments.

Publication Date

Summer 8-12-2021


University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences

Medical Subject Headings

Occupational Therapy, Art Therapy, Homeless Youth, Occupations, Social Media, Young Adult, Needs Assessment


Mental and Social Health | Occupational Therapy | Social Work


Poster presented at the Summer 2021 Virtual OTD Capstone Symposium at the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences held online on August 12, 2021.

Returning to Our Roots: Re-Introducing Art Back into Occupational Therapy