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Wolfson Institute of Population Health

Ms Nicki Power


Clinical Doctoral Fellow & Art Therapist

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Telephone: 020 7540 6755 / 07748322038


My doctoral research is investigating time-limited group art therapy as a treatment for mental distress. I am using mixed methods. There is a focus on ethnographically informed approaches in the initial phases, which seek to understand current art therapy practice and the experiences of people with a learning disability. Later phases will include a co-produced art therapy intervention which will be tested within ELFT clinical services for people with a learning disability.


My Clinical Doctoral Fellowship is funded by Barts Charity. I am working with a range of collaborators within the NHS and across creative industries, including The Lawnmowers Theatre Company, Newcastle. In order to complete my PhD I am seconded from my Service Management and Clinical role at East London NHS Foundation Trust.


In addition to my research role, I am a consultant to the Point of Care Foundation and to Respond. I contribute to the Masters of Art Therapy Programme at the University of Hertfordshire. Furthermore, I hold several voluntary positions:

  • Co-ordinator of the British Association of Art Therapists Learning Disability Professional Support Group
  • Peer Reviewer for the International Journal of Art Therapy (IJAT)
  • Editorial Board Member & Mentor for the Irish Journal of Creative Arts Therapies (Polyphony)


Research Interests:

As an NHS service manager and art therapist in the UK, I am interested in the development of clinically relevant interventions to support people with a learning disability with their physical and mental health needs. This interest has grown from an awareness of the inequalities which people with a learning disability experience in healthcare and in their daily life. In parallel, I want to continue to support art therapists to effectively describe their practice and hone intervention techniques, in order to build the evidence base and applications of this non-verbal therapy.


Making research more inclusive, through co-production and greater use of the service voice is very important to me. Engaging multiple stakeholders, across traditional organisational or clinical boundaries, is a core part of my research. I make use of creative methods of inquiry and storytelling to facilitate conversations about complex experiences or problems.


My interest in the power of storytelling comes from my Irish heritage, but also my work with Schwartz Rounds, a type of organisational reflective practice, in which personal stories by healthcare staff form the basis of whole system change.


My PhD supervisors are Dr Catherine Carr, Dr Simon Hackett, Professor Stefan Priebe and Professor Vicky Bird.

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