Arts and health


Our research into the connection between arts and health impacts upon the healthcare experience by changing perceptions and practices within healthcare settings.

The overall aim of this work is to improve the experience of patients by placing wellbeing and quality of life at the forefront of investigations and providing opportunities for people to exercise their voice towards mutual recovery and social support. This research theme is supported by the Researching Arts and Wellbeing cluster.

Our projects

The Birth Project

In The Birth Project, led by Professor Susan Hogan, obstetricians, midwives, doulas, birth-partners and new mothers were given the opportunity to explore their experiences of compassion fatigue, stress, birth suffering and post-natal readjustments using the arts. This involved phototherapy, photo-diaries and art elicitation in groups, which then joined together in ‘mutual recovery’ events in which perspectives were shared, primarily through elucidation of the art works produced.

Singing for Health

In her new role as Senior Research Fellow, Dr Yoon Irons brings a wealth of research activity with her which she continues to build on. Her focus extends from an interest in the potential health benefits of singing and music for people with a long-term health condition. She has recently completed an international study Sing to Beat Parkinson’s® and Sing to Beat Aphasia.

Birth and the Arts

With a focus on the benefits of expressive arts making, this project investigates parental distress in relation to the experience of premature birth. The study aims to develop the design for an expressive arts-based support programme by assessing the necessity and function of such a service for parents ‘at risk’ of premature birth.

Dance Movement Therapy and Parkinson’s

Coordinated by Jill Bunce, this project addresses aspects of the care and treatment of Parkinson’s. In what is a novel approach, it also seeks to examine the potential of Dance Movement Therapy to enhance quality of life and wellbeing in patients. 

Therapeutic Arts and Creativity

Exploring the intersection of drama therapy and education, Dr Clive Holmwood’s work builds on his recent co-edited book, ‘Learning as a Creative and Developmental Process in Higher Education - A Therapeutic Arts Approach and its Wider Application’. This volume aims to change perceptions on the role of creativity in the learning process. 

Gestalt Psychotherapy and Dance Movement Therapy

Paul Rickets continues to develop his body of work examining the impact of professional and self-reflective practice on teaching and learning in higher education. 

Moving Forces

This project is the collaboration of a team of researchers, academics and practitioners wishing to investigate the effects of Dance Movement Therapy on quality of life, wellbeing and mental health in former UK service personnel. The project aims to evidence Dance Movement Therapy’s ability to provide a positive wellbeing experience by reducing social withdrawal and anxiety, easing PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) symptoms and the reduction of pain.

Our team

Arts and Health is researched by: