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Personal profile

Research interests

Helen Johnson is a Senior Lecturer in Psychology specialising in arts-based research methods, creativity, and critical community psychology.

Helen is both a social scientist and a spoken word poet, and combines these interests under the auspices of arts-based research. She is the founder of the collaborative poetics method and network, which use participatory, arts-based research to explore/communicate the lived experiences of communities and individuals, with a view to supporting their critical resilience. 

Her current research includes:

  • The development and application of a collaborative poetics resource pack (funded by the Independent Social Research Foundation)
  • The evaluation of community arts interventions with people who live with chronic, invisible illnesses (in collaboration with community theatre organisation, Root Experience)
  • The evaluation of an intervention using family and local history records with people who live with or are at risk of dementia (in collaboartion with For The Record and Gloucestershire Archives)
  • The impact of austerity policies on homeless people


Scholarly biography

Helen began working for the University of Brighton in 2014.  She teaches a range of subjects, including research methods, the history of psychology and community psychology.  Helen currently leads three modules - Community Engagement: Theory into Practice, a year-long placement module that crosses the whole of the School of Applied Social Science; Critical Community Psychology, a third year undergraduate module; and Social Research Practice, an MA module in which students work with community partners to carry out research that aids the partners' working practice.  Helen is also on the School of Applied Social Science Quality and Standards Committee.

Helen is a member of the Centre of Resilience for Social Justice and works closely with community groups in both her research and teaching.  In recent years, she has received funding for this work from the Independent Social Research Foundation and the National Centre for Research Methods, as well as undertaking numerous consultancy contracts with community organisations, such as community arts groups, local Government and charities.  She also works closely with the University of Brighton's Community University Partnership Programme (CUPP)

Her work with creative and arts-based research methods has been recognised internationally, and she has set up productive working relations with scholars and artists across Canada (e.g. at McGill and Concordia Universities), the U.S. (eg. at Louisiana State University) and Australia (e.g. with The Write Road).

Supervisory Interests

Helen is interested in supervising doctoral students who wish to work with creative, arts-based and participatory methods on a range of subjects, including: interventions with people living with dementia; homelessness; arts education; and arts inclusivity.

Approach to teaching

Helen holds a Postgraduate Certificate of Higher Education in Teaching and Learning (passed with distinction) and is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. Throughout her career, she has sought to develop her teaching, learning support and assessment practice in line with the U.K. Professional Standards Framework for Teaching and Supporting Learning in Higher Education. She is particularly interested in applying active, student-centred learning approaches, which emphasise collaborative and interactive learning experiences. Helen teaches topics across the undergraduate and postgraduate curriculum particularly in Social and Applied Sciences, with foci including qualitative and creative research methods, psychology of creativity and the arts, critical community psychology, and the history of psychology. She also supervises student projects at undergraduate and postgraduate levels. 

Education/Academic qualification

Master, University of the West of England

1 Sep 20031 Dec 2005

University of Exeter

1 Sep 20051 Jan 2009


  • BF Psychology
  • arts-based research
  • creative methods
  • creativity
  • arts and culture
  • health
  • education

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics where Helen Johnson is active. These topic labels come from the works of this person. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

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Projects 2018 2019

Research Output 2014 2019

  • 10 Article
  • 1 Conference contribution with ISSN or ISBN
  • 1 Book Review

Conference Report: Carnival of Invention

Fennessy, J., Woods, S., Johnson, H., Rivas, C., Norbury, D., Almeida-Harvey, I., Moriarty, J., Wimpenny, K., Bushell, K. & Blake, P., 31 May 2019, In : Forum: Qualitative Social Research. 20, 2, 11 p., 3.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearch

Open Access

A rose by any other name? Developing a method of collaborative poetics

Johnson, H., Macaulay-Rettino, X., Banderob, S., Lalani, I., Carson-Apstein, E. & Blacher, E., 9 Mar 2018, In : Qualitative Research in Psychology.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Open Access
social scientist
collective research

Collaborative Poetics Network: A Pilot Study Exploring the Potential of Collaborative, Arts-based Research

Johnson, H. & Wimpenny, K., 1 Mar 2018, 5th conference on arts-based research and artistic research. Online, p. 1-9 9 p.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNConference contribution with ISSN or ISBNResearchpeer-review

Open Access
business education
research method

"You kind of have to listen to me": Researching discrimination through poetry

Johnson, H., Carson-Apstein, E., Banderob, S. & Macaulay-Rettino, X., 1 Sep 2017, In : Forum : Qualitative Social Research. 18, 3, p. 1-27 27 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearch

Open Access
research approach
social scientist