Using visual arts based approaches to develop young people's resilience

Angela Hart, Hannah Macpherson, Becky Heaver, Emily Gagnon

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNChapter


Arts based approaches hold promise for supporting the development of young people's resilience. However, there have been few empirical studies that consider how to set them up. Furthermore, whether or not young people actually find them supportive is another question that merits further attention. This research is based on the findings of a collaboration between a community mental health focused arts organization, a charity supporting families with disabled children, and university academics. We set up a series of weekly resilience-building visual arts workshops for young people and undertook a review of what we termed the ‘arts for resilience' literature. We found a significant existing evidence base which links visual arts practice to individual and community resilience (over 190 related references). Many disciplinary fields were cited, including art therapy, social work, community health, cultural policy and geographies of health. Key recent publications in the ‘arts for health' and ‘arts for community well-being' research literature have also been linked to this review of ‘arts for resilience'. The researchers contributed to the evidence base through developing a program of arts workshops and evaluating these in terms of their resilience benefits. They found that even short-term visual arts interventions can have a significant impact on young people's resilience. The research participants included young people with learning difficulties. What precisely constitutes resilience for them is a complex issue and was not fully explored in this research. How their definitions of resilience link with prior research definitions of resilience also remains unexplored. Further issues worthy of greater exploration include the longer- term resilience benefits of arts participation, the most cost-effective modes of delivering arts for resilience amongst young people with complex needs, the appropriateness of existing scales and measures of resilience for evaluating the impact of arts interventions with young people with complex needs.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInnovative practice and interventions for children and adolescents with psychosocial difficulties and disabilities
EditorsElias Kourkoutas, Angie Hart
Place of PublicationNewcastle upon Tyne, UK
PublisherCambridge Scholars Publishing
Number of pages16
ISBN (Print)9781443872508
Publication statusPublished - 23 Apr 2015


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