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Professor Vicky Karkou

Professor of Arts & Wellbeing

Allied Health, Social Work & Wellbeing

Department: Allied Health, Social Work & Wellbeing

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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 with external funding successes of over £7million.  She joined Edge Hill University in 2013, originally as a Professor in Performing Arts and more recently as a Professor in the Faculty of Health, Social Care and Medicine where she holds leadership responsibilities for research.  

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, 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 book titled: The Oxford Handbook on Dance for Wellbeing; this publication, amongst other things, favours and celebrates arts-based research and videos as publications.  Since then she also co-edited books on the use of the arts therapies with client groups (e.g., Arts Therapies in the treatment of Depression; Arts Therapies Research and Practice with Persons on the Autism Spectrum)

She is involved in the ERA study, the largest arts therapies randomised controlled trial in the UK and involved in a project on Research Practitioner Partnerships; both are funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).  

She lead the new project Arts4Us, one of the largest research awards on the arts, arts therapies and children’s mental health (£2.5 million) funded by the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) involving over 50 colloborators and partners. This project builds on the Arts for the Blues, an evidence-based creative group psychotherapy for people with depression, which, in collaboration with the University of Salford and funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), has been scaled up in the North West of England.

Part of Vicky’s international work involves research collaborations with colleagues from around the world. For example, she has led the UK arm of a project funded by the European Union on dance for cancer care involving colleagues from five different countries. 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 is also a core member of the International Creative Arts Therapies Research Alliance, working on international commissioned projects from the WHO Arts and Health Office. 

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 (over 100), authored/edited/co-edited books (5 in total) and has written numerous chapters. She is also the co-editor of the international journal Body, Movement and Dance in Psychotherapy published by Taylor and Francis.