Nottingham models new approaches

A Chartered Psychologist at Nottingham University has directed an innovative event that brought together 30 people from the university, the National Health Service and the voluntary sector to develop new health care projects.

Dr Victoria Tischler from Nottingham’s School of Community Health Services was in charge of one of the university’s regular ‘sandpits’. These aim to identify shared interests, formulate ideas and act as a springboard for research proposals for healthcare projects involving the elderly and adolescents.

One of the schemes chosen at Dr Tischler’s event will look at ways the therapeutic effects of clay modelling can help disturbed teenagers deal with their feelings of anger, anxiety and depression. The project will also look at how clay therapy could be developed as a way of engaging with young people diagnosed with autistic spectrum disorders or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder

Dr Gary Winship, of the University’s School of Education, part of the project team, says: “With its qualities of cold resistance and suitability for moulding, we believe creative play through clay could be an exciting alternative therapy for young people suffering from a range of mental health vulnerabilities. Anecdotally, it may offer potential therapeutic effects through the cathartic venting of emotions through banging, squashing, bending or breaking the clay.”

The funding for the £25,000, one-year project will be provided by Nottingham’s Faculty of Arts; School of Nursing, Midwifery and Physiotherapy; Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences; Research Innovation Services; and Centre for Advanced Studies.

Another £10,000 of funding was awarded to a project which will examine the informal language used by teenagers in emails to health websites to improve the success of face-to-face consultations in healthcare settings.

Dr Victoria Tischler says: “These projects showcase the exciting potential of cross-disciplinary research. The teams combine psychology expertise with that from drama, fine art, nursing, medicine and English studies. Many of the project members had not met before the sandpit event and within one day worked together to produce innovative research proposals with clear potential to improve services for at risk adolescents.”