Royal Shakespeare Company’s Education Outreach Programme

Community enhancement project in schools

Collaborating institutions: EHU, Royal Shakespeare Company, The Blackpool Grand, Hope University

Co-researchers: Prof Helen Newall, Karen Jaundrill-Scott.

Best Days of Our Lives

Playscript, schools consortium production, Community reminiscence project, Chester Cathedral, October 2015

Book & lyrics by Prof Helen Newall, music: Matt Baker.

Arts Therapies in Schools with Children with Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties

In this study by PhD student Zoe Moula, drama, dance, music and arts psychotherapists offered support to 64 children with emotional or behavioural issues across a number of mainstream schools. The study focused on the outcomes of arts therapies as perceived by children.

See below for links of publications relating to this study

Moula. Z., Karkou, V., Powell, J. (2019) A pilot cross-over randomised controlled trial of child-focused process and outcome evaluation of arts therapies at primary mainstream schools: study protocol. Arts & Health p1-16

Moula, M., Aithal, S., Karkou, V., Powell, J. (2020) A systematic review of child-focused outcomes and assessments of arts therapies delivered in primary mainstream schools. Children and Both Services Review, Vol 112.

Collaborating institutions: EHU and mainstream schools in Liverpool and Ellesmere Port

Research team: Zoe Moula, Prof Vicky Karkou, Dr Joanne Powell.

Zoe has also conducted A systematic review of the effectiveness of art therapy delivered in school-based settings to children aged 5–12 years

Dance Movement Psychotherapy for the Wellbeing of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders and Their Caregivers

This mixed-methods doctoral research explored the contribution of dance movement psychotherapy towards the wellbeing of children on the autism spectrum and their caregivers. It focused on using dance or creative movements along with play as a therapeutic medium to support children on the autism spectrum and their caregivers based on the evidence of a systematic review and a preliminary study that was conducted in India.  

  • Aithal.S., Moula.Z., Karkou.V., Karaminis.T, Makris.S (under review, 2020). A systematic review on the contribution of dance movement psychotherapy towards the wellbeing of children on the autism spectrum. Submitted for publication in the Review Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. Protocol published in PROSPERO (2018) CRD42018087912 Available from:
  • Aithal.S., Karkou. V., Gnanavel. K. (under review, 2020). Resilience Enhancement in Caregivers of Children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder through Dance Movement Psychotherapy. Submitted for publication.
  • Aithal.S., Gnanavel.K., Karkou.V., Pushpavathi.M. (2019). Backing the backbones – A feasibility study on the effectiveness of dance movement psychotherapy on parenting stress in caregivers of children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Arts in Psychotherapy, 64,69-76.

Two DMP intervention protocols were subsequently developed: 

  1. ‘Seesaw- the dance of concord and discord’ designed for the children on the autism spectrum.
  2. ‘The eternal dance of windmills’ designed to promote wellbeing of the caregivers (parents and teachers). The full description of the intervention protocol will be published soon. 

Aithal.S., Karkou.V., Powell. J., Makris.S., Karaminis.T. (invited book chapter, 2020). The Eternal Dance of Windmills- – Development of a Dance Movement Psychotherapy Intervention Protocol for the Caregivers of Children with an ASD. Submitted for publication as a chapter in the book by European Consortium for Arts Therapies Education on the theme Imagining Windmills: trust, truth and the unknown in the arts therapies. 

Additional forthcoming publications from this study: 

Aithal.S., Powell. J., Karkou.V., Karaminis.T., Makris.S. (abstract accepted, article in preparation, 2020) A Dance Movement Psychotherapy Intervention for the Wellbeing of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Pilot Intervention Study. Submitted for publication in Frontiers in Psychology

Aithal.S., Powell. J., Karkou.V., Karaminis.T., Makris.S. (in preparation, 2020). The Unknown Steerer of the Windmill: The Role of Dance Movement Psychotherapy for the Caregivers of Children with ASD.

Supritha’s research study employed artistic inquiry process, which enabled her to have a dialogue with creative data. This led to the exploration of the data from an aesthetic lens and indulge in a creative process for the analysis and interpretation. Drawing from the experiences and findings, Supritha is choreographing a solo 40 minutes dance theatre piece in collaboration with an English poet and Indian musicians. This research-oriented performance uses the techniques and movement vocabulary of Bharatanatyam dance style, which is one of the classical dance forms of India. The dance piece will cover the significant moment during the sessions that might have facilitated the process of bringing change in the participants. For instance, the dance piece will re-create and celebrate special, tender and vulnerable moments experienced and shared between the participants and the therapist ranging from being fragile during the moments of fear and distress to feeling strong during the moments of joy, care and hope.

The performance will be used for creative dissemination of the study findings alongside the traditional journal publications and conference presentations. Originally scheduled for June 2020, the performance has been temporarily postponed due to the impact of COVID 19.

Findings were also presented in international conferences:

Aithal. S, (2019). “Trapped in the Labyrinth- Movement Response and Critical Reflection on Making Special Educational Needs School Setting a Therapeutically Safe Zone” presented at 2nd International Arts in health Care Event, Pratt Institute, New York, USA. 

Aithal. S, (2019). The unknown steerer of the windmill: The role of dance movement psychotherapy with the caregivers of children on the autism spectrum –presented at 15th ECArTE Conference, Madrid, Spain. 

Karkou. V., Aithal. S., Moula. Z. (2018). Dance Movement Therapy (DMT) Across Modalities and Disciplines: Alleviation of Discomfort or Support for Wellness? -Presented at 3rd EADMT conference, Athens, Greece 

Karkou. V., Aithal. S., Moula. Z. (2018). Researching the arts therapies -Presented at HAN International conference, Nijmegen, Netherlands 

Aithal. S, (2018). Seesaw: The game of life -presented at the PhD Symposium: Improving and understanding health, Ormskirk, England 

Collaborating Institutions: EHU and special schools in Liverpool and Manchester

UK Research team: Supritha Aithal, Prof Vicky Karkou, Dr Joanne Powell, Dr Stergios Makris, Dr Themis Karaminis.

India Research Team: Supritha Aithal, Prof Vicky Karkou, Dr K Gnanavel, M. Pushpavathi

The Learning Machines Lab

The Learning Machines Lab studies learning in humans and in machines from developmental, neurocognitive, computational and educational perspectives. 

The Lab is based at the Department of Psychology at Edge Hill University and focuses on individual differences in learning related to neurodiversity and autism, with an interest in cross-linguistic and cross-cultural differences also. The ultimate aim is to apply knowledge from the study of individual differences in learning to education and everyday life.

The current research project for the Lab I predict therefore I am!: The predictive social mind, prior knowledge, and autism, involves neuroscience workshops for children aged 6-18 offering them the chance to take part in scientific research in a fun and engaging way, working on creative and educational activities.

For for information including links to publications from the ream relating to the Lab, please click on this link

Co-researchers from EHU: Dr Themis Karamisis, Dr Louise Lawrence, Ms Rebecca Wallwork

Dance Movement Psychotherapy for Women with Post Natal Depression

A phenomenological study researching the subjective experiences of women receiving dance movement psychotherapy treatment for postnatal depression. The perinatal period is transitory and transformational for the mother, both emotionally and physically, and the study is interested in the use of body-based therapy to address perinatal mental health problems. The project aims to give a voice to women and to better understand how the intervention may be developed further for this patient group.

Research Team: Emma Perris, Prof Vicky Karkou