Sometimes those in the health professions forget the role the arts can play in promoting and protecting human health. However, over the last several decades, medical professionals have begun to explore new approaches that go beyond clinical treatment. These expressive arts therapies gained widespread recognition throughout the late 20th century. One such creative therapeutic approach is the use of simple magic tricks in physical and psychosocial rehabilitation.

Spencer is recognized as the international leading authority on the therapeutic use of magic tricks in physical and psychosocial rehabilitation. He is a research consultant with the Institute for Arts in Medicine and the School of Health Professions Department of Occupational Therapy at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. His program, Magic Therapy™, is a carefully designed, systematic approach to train therapists in the protocol of this research-based intervention.

Continuing Education Workshop

The Therapeutic Application of Magic Tricks in a Clinical Setting

The magic therapy workshop empowers therapists with a valuable new tool to motivate their clients to become more involved in their treatment. The workshop is a “hands-on, interactive learning experience” and is grounded in the Model of Human Occupation, Motor Learning Theory, Incentive Theory of Motivation, and Social Learning Theory. The applications address the entire spectrum to include developmental disabilities, mental health, physical disabilities, gerontology, and specific disease related deficits. The movements required to learn simple magic tricks help clients regain lost physical and cognitive skills while increasing motivational levels and self-esteem.



That’s Entertainment: Giving New Meaning to the Term ‘Healing Arts’

Dr. Kevin Spencer has been working with providers and their patients for more than 20 years using simple magic tricks to accompany therapy. He founded Magic Therapy™ when he realized the challenges of motivating patients during a long rehabilitation. The activities are inherently engaging and motivating. And because performing a magic trick is intrinsically rewarding, patients tend to practice the task far more readily and extensively than when performing more tedious exercises designed to achieve the same goals, thus facilitating more rapid achievement of their goals.

Conference and presentations

Dr. Spencer is a highly sought-after speaker and presenter at education and healthcare conferences, research gatherings, and roundtables for higher education professionals. He is a subject matter expert and authorized speaker with the U.S. Department of State’s Speaker Program and a Fulbright Specialist.

List below is a sampling of some of his conference proceedings and keynote presentations:

Magic as a Non-pharmacologic Sedation Technique (2022, Feb). Presentation at the 16th Annual Pediatric Sedation Conference of the Harvard Medical School Teaching Hospital and Boston Children’s Hospital: Sedation Techniques Outside the Operation Room. San Francisco, CA.

CPR Analytics: Measuring the Impact of the Arts on Children with Disabilities (2019, July). Presentation at the 16th Biennial Conference of the International Association of Special Education: Empowering Persons with Disabilities: Developing Resilience and Inclusive Sustainable Development., Magamba, Tanzania.

A Celebration of Inclusion (2018, July). Presentation and workshop in Trondheim, Norway.

Creative Aging & the Arts (2018, April). Presentation and workshop at the Creative Aging Conferenceat The Cardinal Wyszyński University in Warsaw, Poland.

Prioritization of Professional Development Needs for Inclusive Practices in Developing Regions, (2018, April). Paper co-presentation at the American Education Research Association Conference, New York City, NY.

First World Congress for Persons with Disabilities in Russia (2017, September). Performance and workshop for individuals with disabilities in Yekaterinburg, Russia.

Engaging Individuals with Disabilities Using an Arts-Integrated Approach (2017, September).Presentation and workshops in Yekaterinburg, Verkh-Neyvinsky, Chelyabinsk, and Ufa (Russia).

The Development and Psychometric Investigation of an Arts-Integrated Assessment Instrument for Educators (2017, April). Paper co-presentation at the American Education Research Association conference, San Antonio, TX.

Tapping the Magic Within (2016, September).  Keynote at the annual conference of the Kansas Occupational Therapy Association, Kansas City, KS.

Student Engagement & Motivation through Arts Integration (2016, July). Keynote at the annual conference of the Mississippi Whole Schools Initiative, Biloxi, MS.

Tapping the Magic Within (2015, October).  Keynote at the annual conference of the Occupational Therapy Association of California, Sacramento, CA.

Creating the Magic from Within (2015, October).  Keynote at the annual conference of the Ohio Occupational Therapy Association, Columbus, OH.

Inspirational and transformational work with children with special educational needs and disabilities. (2015, October).  Keynote at the annual conference of the National Association of Special and Non-Maintained Special Schools, Brighton, United Kingdom.

The Challenges of Inclusion in Conflict Areas, (2015, August). Presentation at the round table of the Division of International Special Education and Services, Jerusalem/Bethlehem.

It’s Not An Illusion: Engaging Students with Special Needs, (2015, July).  Keynote at the 14th Biennial Conference of the International Association of Special Education, Wroclaw, Poland.

It’s Not Magic: Engaging Individuals on the Autism Spectrum, (2014, October).  Keynote at the annual Beyond the Diagnosis: Autism Across the Life Span sponsored by the Kansas Center for Autism Research and Training (K-CART) and Johnson County Community College, Overland Park, KS.

Getting to Yes: Inclusion in the face of a post-conflict Uganda, (2014, July).  Presentation at the meeting of the Division of International Special Education and Services (DISES), University of Minho, Braga, Portugal.

Arts Integrated Interventions for Students with Identified Disabilities, (2014, June).  Uganda Ministry of Education: Professional Development workshops in Entebbe, Mpigi, Soroti, and Mbale.

Increasing Language Skills Through Magic, (2014, June). Presentation at the meeting of the International Society of Language Studies: A Critical Examination of Language and Society, Akita International University, Akita, Japan.

Hocus Focus: Working Magic In the Classroom, (2014, February).Presentation at the meeting of the Midwest Symposium for Leadership in Behavior Disorders (MSLBD), Kansas City, MO. Hocus Focus: Magic Tricks in the Classroom, (2013, June). Keynote presentation at the meeting of the Division of International Special Education and Services, Tobago, West Indies.

Healing of Magic: Empowering Therapists with New Tools, (2012, July).Presentation/Continuing Education Workshop at University of Ulster, Belfast, Ireland UK.

Healing of Magic:Health, Wellness & the Arts, (2012, January).  Keynote at the Leading Voices in Public Health Lecture Series, East Tennessee State University, College of Public Health, Johnson City, TN.

Hocus Focus:Educational Benefits of Arts Integration for Special Learners, (2011, July).Presentation at the 12th Biennial Conference of the International Association of Special Education: Educating Every Learner, Every Day: A Global Responsibility, Windhoek, Namibia.

Hocus Focus:Pedagogical Implications of Arts Integration for Special Learners & Educators, (2011, May).  Presentation at the 31st Seminar of the International Society for Teacher Education: Challenged Teacher Education – Facts, Feelings, Formation, Kristiansand, Norway.

Healing of Magic:Empowering Therapists with New Tools, (2011, May).  Presentation at the International Scientific Conference on Rehabilitation, Russian State Soviet University, Minsk, Belarus.

Hocus Focus:Educational Benefits of Arts Integration for Special Learners, (2010, December).  East Asian International Conference on Teacher Education Research:  Teacher Education for the Future – International Perspectives, Hong Kong.