The Centre has an Advisory,Steering and Operational Group whose members include academic staff with a wealth of experience and research activity spanning across departments and faculties. This includes Performing Arts and the Arts Centre, English, History and Creative Writing, Media, Education, Applied Health, Social Care and Medicine, Psychology and Social Sciences. External members from key organisations will also be invited to the Advisory Group as the Centre grows.

Director – Prof Vicky Karkou

Vicky is the Director of the Research Centre for Arts and Wellbeing.  She joined Edge Hill University in 2013 and currently holds a split post between the School of Applied Health and Social and Care and the Department of Performing Arts, sharing her time, teaching and research equally between these two subject areas.  

Following graduation from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in 1991, Vicky completed her MEd (1994) and PhD (1998) at the School of Education of the University of Manchester. Her doctoral work, was published in her first co-authored book, Arts Therapies: A Research-Based Map of the Field, as well as in several peer reviewed and professional journals.  For ten years (1999-2009) Vicky worked at the University of Hertfordshire where she held one of the first postdoctoral posts in her field in the country. Her success in external funding allowed her to research topics relating to the use of the arts and arts therapies and to generate material for her second edited book Arts Therapies in Schools. During this time, she also completed her clinical training and began working part time as a movement-based psychotherapist.  From 2003, Vicky began working at Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh, as a part time lecturer in art therapy and later as a senior lecturer in dance movement psychotherapy. During this time, she also worked closely with the NHS Improvement Scotland and NHS Education Scotland. 

Vicky’s research work remains diverse ranging from artistic inquiry to systematic reviews and meta-analyses. For example, with a team of colleagues from Leeds University, she has completed two Cochrane Reviews on the effectiveness of Dance Movement Therapy for Depression and for Dementia; methodologically these publications include systematic reviews and a meta-analysis.  With colleagues from Edinburgh University she has edited her third (edited) book titled: The Oxford Handbook on Dance for Wellbeing; this publication, amongst other things, favours and celebrates arts-based research and videos as publications.  Her more recent book is edited with a colleague from the University of Highlands and Islands titled Arts Therapies in the treatment of Depression.  She is currently involved in the ERA study, the largest arts therapies randomised controlled trial in the UK funded by the NIHR.  She has also received funding from the clinical commissioning group of Liverpool and the European Union for studies on depression and cancer care. 

She travels extensively for research and teaching purposes offering key notes, experiential workshops and consultancy work around the world.  In 2014 she was awarded the title of Honorary Doctor of Medicine from Riga Stradins University, Latvia for her services in supporting the development of arts psychotherapies in this country.

Vicky is widely published in peer-reviewed journals and is co-editor for the international journal Body, Movement and Dance in Psychotherapy published by Taylor and Francis.   For a full list of Vicky’s publications visit the Edge Hill research repository .

To read about Vicky and the experiences that have shaped her outlook, here she features in the New Psychotherapist UKCP publication in Autumn 2019 pages 52-53

Deputy Director – Dr Stergios Makris

Dr Stergios Makris staff photo

Dr Stergios Makris is a Senior Lecturer in Psychology.

Stergios is a BPS chartered psychologist with particular research interests in biological psychology and neuroscience. Part of his research work is looking at the brain mechanisms involved in human perception and action and he has previously worked with professional expert athletes to investigate their superior perceptual and action skills. More recently he has been involved in research projects looking at the neural underpinnings of eating behavior, as well as how discriminatory bias can affect the way we perceive other people. He is an expert at the use of non-invasive brain stimulation techniques, such as transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and direct current stimulation (tDCS). Most of his research work is now published in internationally recognized peer-reviewed scientific journals and he has presented in more than 30 national and international conferences.

For a full list of Stergio’s publications on the Edge Hill University research repository, please visit

Deputy Director – Dr Michael Richards

Dr Michael Richards is a Senior Lecturer in Applied Health and Social Care.

Michael is a community and chartered psychologist, with particular research interests in working collaboratively with marginalised groups using different methods including, art, poetry, film, photography, and drama. For example, his PhD aimed to provide a rich and contextual account from the perspective of men labelled with learning difficulties on health promotion. In the development of forty-five workshops, using qualitative, auto ethnographic and participatory approaches, the research uncovered the ways in which these men demonstrated understanding of health promotion, in the context of multiple disciplines including, community psychology, disability studies, ethnography, critical theory and post humanism.

His academic experiences are coupled with his extensive experiences of working in the community, and with professional organisations including social services, housing associations, youth projects, charities, schools and colleges. He has worked with the most marginalised people in society, including people labelled with learning disabilities, homeless people, offenders and victims of abuse in local contexts such as community radio, pubs and museums. Michael has taught psychology at the University of Salford and Manchester Metropolitan University, and is currently a member and secretary of the Community Psychology Section of the BPS. He is passionate about embracing community work with community psychology theory with the aim to help people develop changes in their lives and communities. Michael is also a keen poet and has recently published a couple of collections. He has presented at 40 local, national and international conferences, presenting work relating to his work and research in the community.

For a full list of Michael’s publications on the Edge Hill University research repository, please visit

Steering Group Members

  • Prof Martin McQuillan (Chair)
  • Prof Vicky Karkou (Director)
  • Dr Michael Richards (Deputy Director)
  • Dr Stergios Makris (Deputy Director)
  • Dr Cathy Butterworth (Head of Arts Centre)
  • Magdalen Faulds (Research Office)
  • Prof Helen Newall (Creative Arts)
  • Dr Joanne Powell (Psychology)

Advisory Group

External Consultants

  • Alex Coulter, Director of Arts and Health South West and Director of the National Centre for Creative Health
  • Dr Simon Hackett, Consultant Art Psychotherapist, Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne & Wear NHS Foundation Trust & Senior Clinical Lecturer in Mental Health, Newcastle University
  • Andy Kerr, Independent Member. Andy is a performer, a trustee board member of YPAS (Young Person’s Advisory Service) and takes an active interest in social injustice, mental health, LGBT and community arts.
  • Clare Mahoney, Senior Programme Manager, Liverpool Clinical Commissioning Group.
  • Sarah Niblock, Chief Executive, UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP).
  • Nisha Sajnani, Director of the Dramatherapy program at New York University & Principal Editor of Drama Therapy Review.
  • Rebecca Ross-Williams, Creative Director & Chief Operating Officer, Liverpool Lighthouse.
  • Valentina Cazzato, Lecturer in Cognitive Neuroscience, Liverpool John Moores University

Edge Hill University Members

GTA/PhD Students

  • Emma Perris
  • Erin Power
  • Carly Marchant