Projects

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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Making Music for Mental Health

Making music for mental health is a three-phased project focused on creativity through group music making as a means for wellbeing enhancement. The project seeks to explore the extent to which music learning and performing provides a forum for 'mutual recovery' among adult mental health service users, their carers and the musicians who work with them.

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Mutual Recovery in Media and Policy

Awaiting Project Overview

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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