Examining the role of an arts-based program in enhancing care workers’ capacity to respond to children and young people

Meyer, Kirsten (2017) Examining the role of an arts-based program in enhancing care workers’ capacity to respond to children and young people. PhD thesis, Victoria University.


Psychosocial arts-based programs with children are widely recognised, but little research exists on arts therapy based professional development programs for care workers who work with vulnerable children and how the programs might enhance the capacity of care workers to respond effectively to the needs of the children. The purpose of this study was to examine a professional development experiential workshop program that uses arts-focused, active methods to understand how participants experience core dramatherapy processes and how arts methods influence care workers. The study used a multiple case study design, which included practice led inquiry and pre- and post-workshop interviews with two different groups of care workers. Data was analysed using theory-informed thematic analysis. The findings suggest that through participation in the program most participants reported new understandings of themselves, the young people they work with, and their professional practice. The analysis showed the importance of group processes and climate for enhanced learning. Further analysis revealed that participants’ experience of the three specific artsfocused/ active methods were important in effecting reflection, thereby resulting in new insights such as recognising the importance of feeling validated, and affirmed in their work, awareness of power dynamics between adult and child, and the importance of intentionally working in relationship with children. The implications of the findings are discussed in relation to professional program development. It is suggested that arts active methods can enhance the capacity to think and feel in the here and now, and that applied practice and theory of dramatherapy can support understanding of how change, through core underlying processes, happens through arts practice.

Item type Thesis (PhD thesis)
URI https://vuir.vu.edu.au/id/eprint/34834
Subjects Historical > FOR Classification > 1607 Social Work
Historical > FOR Classification > 1701 Psychology
Current > Division/Research > College of Health and Biomedicine
Keywords arts therapy, youth care workers, child workers, arts-based professional development, dramatherapy, Firemaker Program, South Africa, Melbourne, focused arts methods, Zakheni Arts Therapy Foundation, carers
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