Claire Beerjeraz
Claire Beerjeraz

New research by an Edge Hill University student will explore how the arts and creative therapies can help to heal racial trauma.

Masters student Claire Beerjeraz, from London, is investigating how music, dance and other creative outlets can help to give victims of racism a voice to express their experiences.

Claire, who is in her final year studying MSc Psychotherapy and Counselling: Contemporary and Creative Approaches, explains how the arts have been used for thousands of years as a tool for expression to help cope and heal from racial trauma.

She said: “Traditional music such as Sega, Blues and Jazz has African ancestral rhythm and contains lyrical references to slavery and oppression as a way of expression.”

Claire, who has worked as a counsellor for Nightline and Childline, will focus on how movements such as Black Lives Matter (BLM) and the death of African-American George Floyd in 2020 have affected the lives of millions of people over the past year.

She added: “I am a young, mixed-race female who has experienced racism and I’ve used creative arts to express this. I understand what it’s like to live in society as a black woman and my position will provide a unique perspective on this study.

“I’ve found that the arts have really helped me along with a lot of other members of the black community, who have felt very helpless with what’s happening in the world. The Black Lives Matter movement had been developed into a platform for communication, standing up to racial inequalities and liberating black people.”

Claire will examine how the black arts movement has helped people to speak out about their experiences, when they couldn’t be heard with their words. She added: “During a period when global protesting and widespread media coverage on BLM has occurred, more people are suffering therefore there has never been a more relevant time to embark on this research.”

Her work was recently highlighted at a postgraduate conference hosted in Manchester, where her research poster was awarded second place.

Edge Hill’s Counselling and Psychotherapy courses are designed for students who already know they want to quality as a therapist. Its teaching team comprises psychotherapists with extensive experience in their field and who will help students to explore the theories and philosophies that shape practice.