25/03/2021

Categories: Art & Design and Fine Art, Postgraduate

Arts with Offenders: Changing Outcomes

Are you an arts graduate looking for a new challenge? Have you considered a career in the prison and probation services?

The University of Bolton’s MA Applied and Community Arts course is designed for those looking to upskill in a specialist area. If you have a degree in a creative subject (such as theatre, performance, dance, or art and design), this programme could take your career in a new direction.

Working in the prison services is one of the fields you can enter, turning your creative skills into art therapy for trauma, mental health support and rehabilitation.

It’s an area that can be overlooked, but creative arts therapy can transform lives, change outcomes and rebuild communities. Here are some ways art can help offenders reform:

Change perceptions and provide a second chance

As a society, we don’t talk enough about prisons and offenders. When we do, we mostly focus on young offenders and community youth work. But a lot of adults in the prison system are forgotten about, despite the fact that it’s never too late for reform.

Creative arts therapy is a way to develop a better understanding of those who have offended. And often through art – whether it’s drama, dance, music or crafts – we can learn more about people’s stories.

Finding out how people got to where they are, and what led to their life choices, can help us change our views and develop empathy for others.

Our master’s degree can bridge the gap for poor and disadvantaged individuals, making arts education accessible for all, while giving you a clear direction for career growth and progression.

Many applied arts graduates who work in the prison services go on to become experts in their field, pushing boundaries for these types of therapy programmes and pioneering new ways to help young and adult offenders in the UK. 

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Use art therapy for trauma

Prisoners have a much higher prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Many have also been through trauma, whether in childhood or as an adult, which is often a contributing factor to their choice to offend.

Others have also been trapped by gang activity or a lack of work opportunities in their local area, which means having an outlet to express their feelings is vital.

Most criminals have also been a victim of crime themselves, and creative art therapy can help them break the cycle and change their way of thinking. Art can help them heal while also challenging their self-perception.

By shifting their identity and how they see themselves, art therapists can provide a new pathway and prevent people from reoffending.

 

If this sounds like the type of career you’re interested in, find out more about our MA Applied and Community Arts degree, which starts in September 2021.

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