Creativity in social work education and practice: reflections on a survivor arts project

Dawn River, Jane Thakoordin, Laura Billing

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


This article, written by survivor artists, practitioners and academics (each moving between these different identities and associated voices), will explore a creative arts approach to social work (SW) education within the context of service user and carer involvement. In addition to building upon a developing literature base, the writers will draw upon their own experience and the experience of other service user and carer contributors as well as student and practitioner feedback. In doing so, this article will seek to analyse some of the ways the creative arts can be harnessed as a tool for a more radical, creative and critical approach to professional education and how this in turn can help develop more empathic, critically self-reflective and creative (in the broadest sense of the word) practitioners. In critiquing the more traditional service user and carer involvement approach, this article will attempt to show how the more innovative approach of the Survivor Arts Project can move us beyond an arguably more limiting ‘expertise through experience’ model. In outlining an emancipatory model which recognises the relevance of lived experience and places this within the context of survivor movements, focusing also on the skills and insights survivors bring to SW education, this article will detail the ways we can work towards developing a more vibrant and dynamic learning environment which values our life stories and recognises our strengths as well as the many different and overlapping identities which place us along a continuum that connects our lives and informs our practice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)758-774
Number of pages17
JournalBritish Journal of Social Work
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 26 Dec 2016


  • Service user and carer involvement
  • creative approaches to social work education and practice
  • creativity and social work
  • critical reflective practice through creativity


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