Skip Navigation

Professor Vicky Karkou

Professor of Arts & Wellbeing

Allied Health, Social Work & Wellbeing

Department: Allied Health, Social Work & Wellbeing

ORCID logo View full profile



Vicky is the Director of the Research Centre for Arts and Wellbeing and an internationally known academic and researcher in the arts and arts psychotherapies.  She joined Edge Hill University in 2013, originally as a Professor in Performing Arts and more recently as a Professor in the School of Applied Health, Social Care and Social Work where she leads on the research activities of the School and contributes to the Faculty’s research agenda.  

In 1991 she completed her Bachelors of Science and Education at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki followed by her MEd (1994) and PhD (1998) at the School of Education of the University of Manchester. Her doctoral work, funded by ESRC, 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) her primary employer was the University of Hertfordshire where she held one of the first postdoctoral posts in her field in the country.  Originally she was employed in Nursing, then in the Department of Art and Design and following this at the Department of Counselling and Psychotherapy.  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.  In 2003 and whilst still working as a researcher at the University of Hertfordshire, Vicky began working at Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh, initially as a part time lecturer in art therapy and then as a senior lecturer in dance movement psychotherapy. Working within a Faculty of Health and Sciences, she had opportunities to research her areas of interest through a health perspective.  During this time, she also worked closely with the NHS Improvement Scotland and NHS Education Scotland. 

As a result of these multiple influences and contexts of work, 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 involved in the ERA study, the largest arts therapies randomised controlled trial in the UK funded and involved a project on Research Practitioner Partnerships both funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).  

She has also received funding from the clinical commissioning group of Liverpool for studies on depression and, with funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), and in collaboration with the University of Salford, she is currently working on scaling up the Arts for the Blues, an evidence-based creative group psychotherapy for people with depression. Further funding has also been secured by the Arts Council to co-design an immersive performance on the experience of creative group psychotherapy. 

Part of Vicky’s international work involves collaboration with colleagues from around the world.  For example, she has led the UK arm of a project funded by the Europeann Union on dance for cancer care.  She is also a core member of the International Arts Therapies Research Alliance, working on international commissioned projects from the WHO Arts and Health Office and a recipient of Wellcome Trust funding for a systematic review. With funding from the Wellcome Trust and collaboration with colleagues from India and the Caribbean, she has supervised a systematic review on arts interventions to support the mental health of helping professionals.

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.

She is widely published in peer reviewed journals and edited books and is co-editing the international journal Body, Movement and Dance in Psychotherapy published by Taylor and Francis.