Arts Therapies for Dementia

Steven Lyons, PhD Candidate

Exploring the value of a dance, movement and music psychotherapy group for older adults with dementia living in the community


The arts therapies are established psychological treatments that include working with non-verbal expression (art, dance movement, drama and music) to support and develop communication, improve mood and treat negative symptoms. The latest guidelines from the National Institute for Clinical evidence for supporting people with dementia recommend music and/or dancing as a treatment for non-cognitive symptoms (such as agitation), but makes no direct reference to music therapy or dance movement psychotherapy. My PhD is investigating these specific therapies further by considering quantitative, qualitative and arts based information.

What are the main aims of the research?

There is research evidence that music therapy can help temporarily alleviate symptoms of dementia such as depression and agitation. Also, findings from dance movement psychotherapy suggest that non-verbal, embodied communication can help promote wellbeing. However, there is still lack of clarity on clinically meaningful outcome measures, detail regarding the therapeutic process, and lack of studies conducted in community settings at different stages of the disease.  My aim is to conduct a community based mixed method feasibility study investigating the value of a combined dance, movement and music psychotherapy group for older adults with dementia. I am interested to know whether the group can benefit mood and/or communication.

Who can take part in the research?

The study is based at Edge Hill University in collaboration with Home Instead West Lancashire and Chorley, one of the first adult social care service to be rated outstanding from the Care Quality Commission. At present we are recruiting for participants in West Lancashire.

The group will include:

  • Older adults (65+) with a diagnosis of any type of dementia
  • Creative dance/movement and music making facilitated by registered arts therapists

The research will involve:

  • 5 group sessions (1 hour each)
  • 3 brief questionnaires

This study has been approved by the NHS Research Ethics Committee. If you are interested in taking part or would like more information, please contact Steven Lyons at:


Tel: 01695 650852 (6313)

Last updated on Last updated on Was this page helpful? Yes No Thanks for your feedback! Please tell us more: