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Past special programs

The Centre for the Arts in Human Development's past programs include:


Over a two year period (2001-2002 & 2003-2004), the Centre staff and interns offered creative arts therapies to individuals with a psychiatric diagnosis, who were referred by the Douglas Hospital Outpatient Services and other community-based programs. In conjunction with the therapy, research was conducted on the efficacy of this approach with this population. Our research showed individuals participating in these therapies felt it was a positive experience that provided new motivation and interaction with others.

Adolescents from Montreal-area alternative schools were integrated into the Centre for the Arts in Human Development’s musical production process as assistants to the Centre’s participants in 2000, 2002 and 2004. This experience resulted in the development of a meaningful rapport between the adolescents and the Centre’s participants, and improved self-esteem for the adolescents.

Adolescents identified as being “at risk” were selected to participate in a one-year project in 2005 involving group drumming to address anger management, reduce stress, enhance motivation and promote group cohesiveness. The efficacy of the intervention was studied as part of a research project.

This eight-week project in 2005 used a technique called developmental drama to build interaction and promote understanding between elementary school children and Centre participants with developmental disabilities. The process of overcoming stigmatized attitudes was captivatingly illustrated in a video documentary of the experience, titled Building Bridges.

From 2005 to 2007, a drop-in program was offered to individuals who had participated in the Fels Arts and Friendship Program. Building on the socialization skills practiced in the Fels Program, participants were encouraged to take on planning and leadership roles for the group’s activities to enhance their self-esteem and autonomy.

In conjunction with Place des Arts impresario, Sam Gesser, the Centre co-produced the play Dancing to Beethoven in 2005. Dr. Stephen Snow directed a new group of novice actors–those with visual disabilities–to give them the experience of performing in front of an enraptured audience. The process of mounting the play was the topic of the National Film Board of Canada’s documentary, Acting Blind.

In 2008, a nutrition program was offered to participants in the three-year program to raise awareness of good nutrition and encourage better food choices. Participants learned about the different food groups, portion size, and sampled a variety of nutritious foods to concretize their understanding. The impact of this program in understanding and behavior change was simultaneously researched.

Five past and present participants from the Centre for the Arts in Human Development who demonstrated a special affinity for musical performance were invited to develop a “musical road show” that was performed for a number of community based audiences in the summer of 2009. An evaluation of the impact on audience perspectives toward the performers was integrated into the project.

Creative arts therapies were offered by the Centre for the Arts in Human Development to individuals diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome during the 2010-2011 year. Participants in this unique pilot project were offered music therapy, art therapy and drama therapy with the general goals of facilitating emotional expression and ameliorating self-confidence and self-esteem through the group arts therapies format. This pilot project included a research component, designed to look at the impact of the creative arts therapies on self-esteem with this population.

As part of a research project, two groups of 6 children, aged between 10 and 12,with Autism Spectrum Disorder, were offered either art therapy or drama therapy for 21 weeks on Saturday mornings. The project also offered a concurrent support group for the parents of the participating children, wherein they had the opportunity to address their concerns or issues related to their child's behaviors, development and education in a supportive environment. The children were recruited in partnership with the West Montreal Readaptation Centre’s Children’s Services Department. A professional art and drama therapist were hired to run the groups with a graduate student in art therapy and drama therapy co-leading the sessions with them.
The objective of this project was to provide a therapeutic setting for the children to discuss some of the difficulties they experienced in their social interactions, whereby they have the opportunity to develop a better understanding of appropriate ways to respond in social situations. By using expressive modalities in a group context, the children were able to develop and practice social skills, experience positive social interactions, and manage their problem behaviors with other individuals who share similar experiences.

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