Members are organised by the project of which they are part.

Clay Transformations: An Innovative Research Project Transforming Lives Through Mutual Recovery

Working with clay is regularly described as being ‘therapeutic’ but what is actually meant by this and how does this work enhance well-being, particularly when performed in a group setting? It has been a purpose of a research project called Clay Transformations to answer these questions. Clay Transformations is run by Associate Professor Dr Gary Winship and Senior Research Fellow Dr Elaine Argyle who are both based within the School of Education at the University of Nottingham.  It is one of several concurrently running projects within the ‘Creative Practice as Mutual Recovery’ Programme (AHRC).  

The Clay Transformations exhibition which took place at the Institute of Mental Health, University of Nottingham between the 13th April to 5th May, 2015 will be relocating to the Aspidal Gallery at Rufford Abbey Country Park, Ollerton, NG22 9DF. It will be on display from 15th June to 26th July which will coincide with the Earth and Fire International Ceramic Fair taking place at Rufford on 26th, 27th and 28th June, 2015.

ClayTransformations' Website

Project Membership

  • Dr Gary Winship (Researcher)

  • Dr Elaine Argyle (Researcher)

Community & Capoeira

Capoeira is an Afro-Brazilian martial art, involving elements of play, dance, music and fight. Much of the literature available to date surrounding Capoeira focusses on aspects of cultural sociology and not health per se. However, here, Capoeira well be used to explore mental health, well-being, and connectedness in a mutual sense through the delivery of a six-month Capoeira course in Birmingham. A mixed-methods approach comprising four elements:

  1. pre-/post-course quantitative measure of social inclusion (Secker et al., 2009)
  2. pre-/post-course quantitative measure of well-being (WEMBWS Tennant et al., 2007);
  3. overt participant observation data from the classes;
  4. semi-structured interviews towards the end of the course.

Data will be collected from the two participant groupings, Capoeira students and Capoeira teachers/‘Capoeiristas’, to explore connectedness and community.

Fieldwork Complete

This capoeira fieldwork has now been completed (February, 2015) and research team analysis has commenced. All seven members of the team are involved in the on-going coding and theme development. Two academic papers are planned alongside conference attendance and University of Nottingham presentations.

Project Membership

  • Dr Melanie Jordan (Project Lead)

    A medical sociologist working at the University of Nottingham - with both the Institute of Mental Health and The Retreat in York. Undertakes healthcare research, mainly in the field of mental health. Lectures in the sociology of prisons and incarceration.

Creative Practice as Mutual Recovery in Forensic Settings

An ethnography of creative practice as mutual recovery in forensic mental health settings is the topic of a full time PhD funded by the University of Nottingham as part of the larger programme.

Project Membership

  • Emma Joyes (Project Lead)

    Psychology Graduate whose research interests lie in creative methodologies, with a particular interest in participatory methodologies (i.e., Action research).

    I am currently within my first year of my PhD Studentship which is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) under the ‘Creative Practice as Mutual Recovery’ Programme. My research focuses on creative practice within the Forensic Mental Health setting.

Digital Dialogues

Digital Dialogues is a digital storytelling programme that aims to bring together service professionals, service users and carers into small groups to create a new form of dialogue between them – the sharing of personal stories, initially in a co-present environment and then in the online space, where storytelling can act as a catalyst for further stories and conversations. These groups will then be linked with other groups online to share their stories in a wider forum. The project aims to explore the benefit of personal storytelling, aided by digital technology, to the process of mutual recovery and the reimagining of relationships between participants.

Project Membership

  • Professor Mike Wilson (Project Lead)

    Mike Wilson is Professor of Drama and Dean of Research and the Graduate School at Falmouth University. Previously he was Head of Research at the Cardiff School of Creative and Cultural Industries, University of Glamorgan, where he also ran two research centres. He is also a member of the AHRC Peer Review College and  is a member of the Programme Advisory Boards for the RCUK’s programme on the Digital Economy (led by EPSRC) and the AHRC’s programme on Digital Transformations.

    His main research interests lie in the field of popular and vernacular performance and he has published extensively on Storytelling, Grand-Guignol and Brecht and his collaborators. In particular, his work on storytelling has led him to work on the interface between storytelling and digital technology and the way in which the internet has enabled the telling and sharing of ‘extraordinary’ stories of the everyday experiences of people.

    Professor Mike…

International Platform 1: Harvard University/ Massachusetts General Hospital (Boston, US)

This work related to Theme 4 International Perspectives on Creative Practice as Mutual Recovery

Purpose: This theme incorporates an initial scoping of international perspectives on creative practice as mutual recovery.  The US is a strategically important and influential region and a research team at Harvard University/ Massachusetts General Hospital Department of Psychiatry was invited to explore the status of ‘mutual recovery’ in relation to creative practice approaches in mental health. 

This project was funded by University of Nottingham.  It will contribute to Theme 1 of the larger programme and feed into the overall synthesis of findings.

WP 4.1 (Beresin): Creative Practice as Mutual recovery in US – will provide an initial review and scoping of research and practices relevant to a. visual and performing arts and b. literature and narrative. Methods: workshops and literature review.

this project does not yet have any members

International Platform 2: Fudan University (Shanghai, China)

This work related to Theme 4 International Perspectives on Creative Practice as Mutual Recovery

Purpose: This theme incorporates an initial scoping of international perspectives on creative practice as mutual recovery.  China is a strategically important and influential region and researchers at Department of Public Health, Fudan University in Shanghai were invited to explore the status of ‘mutual recovery’ in relation to creative practice approaches in mental health. 

This project was funded by University of Nottingham.  It will contribute to Theme 1 of the larger programme and feed into the overall synthesis of findings.

WP 4.2 (Fu): Creative Practice as Mutual recovery in China – will provide an initial review and scoping of research and practices relevant to a. visual and performing arts and b. literature and narrative. Methods: workshops and literature review. Note: The work of this team extended to a pilot study of creative practice as mutual recovery in depression in community settings.

this project does not yet have any members

International Platform 3: Seville University (Andalusia, Spain)

In the autumn of 2014, a group of students (undergraduate and graduate) and professionals who were interested in applying creative practices in health promotion and its relation to psychological processes was created in Seville. The basis of this group is the School of Psychology at the University of Seville.

Dr. Javier Saavedra, associate professor at the University of Seville, co-founder of this group, and Paul Crawford agreed to add a new work package in theme number 4 of the project, “International Perspectives on Creative Practice as Mutual Recovery”. This new work package aims to assess the impact of some creative practices in Andalusia (Spain).

Project Membership

  • Javier Saavedra (Project Lead)

    Dr. Francisco Javier Saavedra Macías is Assistant Professor at the Department of Experimental Psychology in the University of Seville and member of the Laboratory of Human Activity Research Group. He is also research fellow in the Andalusian Fundation for the Social Integration of Person with Schizophrenia where he coordinates a research project about prevalence of psychological disorder in the prision population in Andalusia. He participates in different research project about violence abuse in the domestic context and gender culture in the Andalusian School. Dr. Saavedra wrote his doctoral thesis about changes in life narratives of patients diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia that lives in supported house.

    Dr. Saavedra is interested in caring processes in socio-cultural settings,…

Making Music for Mental Health

Making Music for Mental Health focused on creativity through group drumming as a means for wellbeing enhancement. The project sought to explore the extent to which music learning and performing can provide a forum for 'mutual recovery' among adult mental health service users, their carers and the musicians who work with them.

Project Membership

  • Professor Aaron Williamon (Project Lead)

    Aaron Williamon is Professor of Performance Science at the Royal College of Music, where he directs the Centre for Performance Science. His research focuses on skilled performance and applied scientific initiatives that inform music learning and teaching, as well as the impact of music and the arts on society. Aaron is founder of the International Symposium on Performance Science, chief editor of Performance Science (a Frontiers journal), and a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and the UK’s Higher Education Academy. In 2008, he was elected an Honorary Member of the Royal College of Music.

  • Dr Rosie Perkins (Researcher)

  • Sara Ascenso (Researcher)

  • Daisy Fancourt (Researcher)

Mutual Recovery in Media and Policy

Awaiting Project Overview

Project Membership

  • Dr Nelya Koteyko (Project Lead)

    Reader in Applied Linguistics, Queen Mary University of London


  • Dimitrinka Atanasova (Researcher)

Mutuality, wellbeing and mental health recovery: Exploring the roles of creative adult community learning and participatory arts initiatives

The aim of this study is to explore the ways in which creative practice and mutuality within adult community learning and community arts settings can help to achieve the sorts of emancipatory or empowering spaces, discourses and opportunities which support mental health recovery and wellbeing for a range of people involved.  The study is being conducted in partnership with the Workers’ Educational Association and in collaboration with two London-based community arts projects.  Research methods include participant observation, interviews and focus groups.

Project Flyer (PDF)

Further information regarding the Mutual Recovery Through Communities of Creative Connection project please visit the project website

Project Membership

  • Dr Lydia Lewis (Project Lead)

    I am currently a Research Fellow in the Centre for Developmental and Applied Research in Education at the University of Wolverhampton.  I have a background in sociology and work across the areas of education and mental health. I have recently conducted a study of mental health adult community learning (ACL) with the Workers’ Educational Association and undertaken research development work on creative practice and mutuality in relation to the 'recovery' agenda in the area of mental health. My PhD was on the politics of user involvement in mental health services, taking a critical discourse analytic approach, and I have developed a wide programme of knowledge exchange work through the British Sociological Association (BSA) Mental Health Study Group which I founded and co-convene – see

  • Dr Helen Spandler (Researcher)

  • Tony Devaney (Associate)

The Birth Project

The Birth Project is led by Professor Susan Hogan Births can be joyful and shocking for all involved: primarily for women, but also for birth partners, obstetricians and midwives, who are subject to very different stresses. Furthermore, hospital protocols, coupled with the unpredictability of birthing itself, can override what women want and expect in terms of a birth experience, leaving some women distressed and others frankly traumatised; this can have a knock-on effect on their infant’s development. Furthermore, midwifery and obstetric practices, within a demanding period for the NHS of austerity, litigation fears and pressure from the media, can have an impact on the kinds of stress experienced by birth professionals.

In The Birth Project, the arts are being used to interrogate this complex topic. Midwives, and new mothers are being given the opportunity to explore their experiences of compassion fatigue, stress, birth suffering and post-natal readjustments using different art forms: phototherapy, photo-diaries and art elicitation. These groups will then join together in ‘mutual recovery’ events in which diverse perspectives will be shared, primarily through elucidation of the art works produced. A midwives group comprising professional doulas, as well as a birth partners, whose experience is often overlooked, will use the arts to explore their experiences, and then join the ‘mutual recovery’ exchanges.

The group work and the events are being captured using documentary filmmaking. The raison d’etre of this project is to create dialogue between different communities of interest and experience, to use the arts to interrogate discourses, to challenge embedded assumptions, and in this process, to stimulate mutual recovery between all those who experience and are affected by birth. We situate this endeavour in the context of an emerging practice of health humanities (Crawford et al. 2014), art as social action (Levine & Levine 2014) and visual research methodologies (Pink 2012).

Further information can be found within the Birth Project website.

Project Membership

  • Professor Susan Hogan (Project Lead)

    Professor Susan Hogan has research interests in the history of medicine. She has written extensively on the relationship between the arts, insanity, and the role of the arts in rehabilitation. She is also very interested in the treatment of women within psychiatry and maternity care. Her most recent work is ESRC funded work, in collaboration with the University of Sheffield, Department of Sociological Studies, which is looking at representions of older women. The aim of this study is to use the creative arts to negotiate and challenge images of ageing and explore their contribution to participatory approaches to research in social gerontology.

    Susan Hogan has a BA Degree in fine art, a post-graduate diploma in art therapy, a Master’s Degree in Arts Administration (Arts Policy & Management), and a further Master’s Degree in Social Science Research Methods (Social Policy & Sociology). Her Ph.D. was in Cultural History (looking at the…

The Genealogy of Mutual Recovery

This work package will enable us to gain some critical purchase on the notion of mutual recovery. The idea of genealogy in the humanities and social sciences is that in order to understand concepts and practices one needs to understand their history, how they were devised and for what purpose, and understand the struggles and debates which led to them taking their present form.

Accordingly, this work package will examine the genealogy, theories and conceptualisation of key issues in the creative practice as mutual recovery programme, such as recovery and mutuality themselves. We will examine what definitions, concepts and utility can apply to the term ‘mutual recovery, the genealogy, theories and conceptualisation of creative practice as mutual recovery, the nature, shape and form of communities and how they are thought of and how they might be connected for mental health and well-being. This work package will provide a critical baseline of how the notions of ‘recovery’ and ‘mutual recovery’ are formulated in particular communities and assist in engaging with and managing sometimes conflicting and strongly embedded, professional and community cultures. This will involve tracing the relationship of the recovery movement to the rise of the user movement and other movements in radical psychiatry. It will also analyse how notions of community and mutual recovery are understood within biomedicine in relation to specific mental health disorders (antisocial personality disorder, depression, schizophrenia), and how mutual recovery is being (re)framed in organic as well as psychosocial terms and is changing how we conceptualise individuals and communities.

Project Membership

  • Prof Brian Brown (Project Lead)

    Brown is Professor of Health Communication at De Montfort University. He has completed twelve books and over sixty refereed journal articles. Most notably, his books have included Evidence based health communication (with P. Crawford and R. Carter, Open University Press, 2006) and the prizewinning Evidence based Research: Dilemmas and debates in heath care (with P. Crawford and C. Hicks, Buckingham: Open University Press, 2003). As well as health care, his work has ranged across fields such as linguistics, education and sociology. The core of his work has focused on the interpretation of practitioner and client experiences in health care, exploring how this may be understood with a view to improving practice and with regard to theoretical development in the social sciences, particularly concerning notions of governmentality and habitus from Foucauldian and Bourdieusian sociology and how the analysis of everyday experience can offer novel theoretical developments.

Yoga as Mutual Recovery: Clinical and Social Implications for Looked-After Children and their Carers

This study explores the concept of 'creative practice as mutual recovery' in a group of looked-after children, including their formal/informal carers. The main objective is to assess the therapeutic effects of a more dynamic, fun and physical type of Yoga -called Kundalini Yoga- on well-being and relationship outcomes. Looked-after children (LAC) often exhibit challenging behaviours, emotional and well-being needs. Formal therapeutic treatment, such as counselling or cognitive behavioural therapy, is often rejected by LAC and provision of alternative therapeutic care is poor or non-existent. Overall, there is not a great deal known about how to fill the gaps in the provision of nurture and attachment of which these children have been so severely deprived. One of the benefits of yoga over other physical exercise or creative therapies is that it gives a sense of connectedness to the self and others, facilitating healthier relationships and secure attachment.

Project Membership

  • Dr Elvira Perez Vallejos (Project Lead)

    Elvira Perez is a research fellow at the Division of Psychiatry and applied Psychology at the University of Nottingham. She is interested in applying new video interventions such as Video Interactive Guidance (VIG) to improve communication between young patients and healthcare professionals. Currently she works assesing the efficacy of different ADHD parenting interventions, yoga in children homes, and drumming for young adults with ADHD. Se is also developing a new piece of research focused on translating parent's perspectives and experiences into relevant therapeutic interventions through discurse analysis technique

  • Professor Paul Crawford (Associate)

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