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'I'm not a therapist you know...I'm an artist': Facilitating well-being and basic psychological needs satisfaction through community arts participation

Swindells, R and Lawthom, R and Parkinson, C and Clennon, O and Kagan, C and De Bezenac, C (2016) 'I'm not a therapist you know...I'm an artist': Facilitating well-being and basic psychological needs satisfaction through community arts participation. Journal of Applied Arts & Health, 7 (3). pp. 347-367. ISSN 2040-2457

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Abstract

The role of the artist is crucial to the success of arts for health initiatives yet remains under-explored in the research literature. This article examines the practice of arts facilitation through the lens of self-determination theory (SDT). Fourteen interviews with artists leading projects for older adults across three settings were subject to a secondary thematic analysis. A hybrid approach was adopted with themes developed inductively and deductively. Artists were found to satisfy participants’ basic psychological needs in diverse ways. Autonomy: artists spoke of valuing the expression of individual differences and identities, encouraging participants to assume ownership of projects. Competence: developing participants’ aptitudes and skills and repairing negative self-beliefs emerged as common goals. Relatedness: artists sought to cultivate social interaction within groups and forge relationships with participants themselves. Self-determination theory provides a well-validated framework to conceptualize the psycho-social processes mediating arts project outcomes relating to psychological well-being.

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