Research in Arts and Wellbeing (RAW)

Our research into the connection between arts therapies and arts and health impacts upon the healthcare experience by changing perceptions and practices within healthcare settings. We fit into the Creative Industries focus of the University Research Strategy.

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.

The group is chaired by Dr. Clive Holmwood, Associate Professor in the Discipline of Therapeutic Arts, and Co-chaired by Professor Susan Hogan.

Our current and most recent projects are:

Arts-based Interventions with Women and Girls 

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has identified that refugee children's participation in mainstream schooling in many refugee host countries (RHCs) is substantially lower than their settled peers and that for girls the gap is even more significant.  This project is exploring the literature around arts-based interventions aimed at girls and young women and the particular affordances and ethical complexities of these.

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.

Birth Shock! Is an extension of The Birth Project, that uses film to explore the experience of birth. The aim is to share insights with practitioners and the broader public and embed the films into future training.

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.

Creative Network Plus

Developed as a part of the GCRF Education in Conflict and Crisis Research portfolio, this project is aimed at providing baseline research for an interdisciplinary arts and social science network plus- (Creative Network). This aims to investigate how innovations in technologies (mobile and digital) can support Cultural and Creative Industries for Refugee Youth (young people aged 16-32 years) that will enable better integration and access to Vocational Education and Training in the Network-hosting communities of six of the world's top 10 RHCs - Turkey, Uganda, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Lebanon and Ethiopia.

This project will advance our theoretical understanding, build strong, equitable and sustainable partnerships, and support the engagement of the Creative Network's stakeholders. 

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. 

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.

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.

Learn more about singing for health

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.

Additionally, published in November 2020 The Routledge International Handbook of Play, Therapeutic Play and Play Therapy coedited by Clive Holmwood and former visiting Professor Sue Jennings has brought together international research and case studies on play across the spectrum, including a small research project Clive carried out in a school using neuro dramatic play.

Our team

Arts and Health is researched by: