Meet the Team

Meet the Team

Professor Vicky Karkou

Vicky is the Principal Investigator for the Arts for the Blues study and is Director for the Research Centre for Arts and Wellbeing at Edge Hill University. A lecturer, researcher and psychotherapist, her main research area is around arts psychotherapies and the use of the arts (and improvisation) for health and wellbeing which she explores through a range of qualitative, quantitative and arts-based methodologies. She has gained funding from the European Union and from other funding bodies for a number of projects in applied uses of the arts.  She has completed two Cochrane Systematic Reviews on depression and dementia.

Vicky is well published in national and international peer-reviewed journals and has published chapters and books. See the publications page for more information.

She acts as the reviewer for a number of different journals including The Arts in Psychotherapy and The American Journal of Dance Therapy.  She is the co-editor for the international journal Body, Movement and Dance in Psychotherapy. She acts as a consultant for different organisations including Crew 2000, a charity offering support to people with addictions, and Spinning Worlds, a voluntary service offering CAMHs services in schools in Liverpool and offers clinical supervision and support.

To read about Vicky click on the link below for her feature in the New Psychotherapist UKCP publication in Autumn 2019 pages 52-53.

https://www.psychotherapy.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/NEW-PSYCHOTHERAPIST_AUTUMN2019_lo.pdf

Dr Joanna Omylinska-Thurston

Joanna is a co-founder of the Arts for the Blues project. She is an experienced Counselling Psychologist who has been practicing within the NHS for over twenty years, providing psychological therapy, supervision and placements for Counselling Psychology Trainees at the University of Manchester and the BPS’s Qualification in Counselling Psychology.  She integrates humanistic, cognitive-behavioural and psychodynamic approaches in her work and has worked in learning disabilities, psycho-oncology and mental health. 

Joanna has published several research projects examining the therapist’s use of self and helpful factors in psychological therapy with cancer. She won a BACP grant to explore the unhelpful factors in CBT which was published in Counselling and Psychotherapy Research. She has been interested in exploring the use of creative methods (including dance/ movement, drawing and creative writing) in psychological therapy, which led to the development of Arts for the Blues. 

Joanna currently works for IAPT (Improving Access to Psychological Therapies) part of Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust, where she works with clients who present with common mental health issues such as anxiety and depression as well as complex issues such as complex trauma.  She also works as a Lecturer for MSc in Counselling and Psychotherapy at the University of Salford. Joanna is interested in autoethnographic research exploring her development as a counselling psychologist and the role of creativity and spirituality in that journey. 

Kerry Nair

Kerry currently works as a Counsellor and Supervisor  in South Manchester IAPT, part of Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Trust.

Kerry offers a Person-Centred approach when engaging in a therapeutic relationship with a client. However, also offers the use of creative media with her clients such as the use of art materials; miniature figures and objects; psychodrama chair work and working with emotions in the body using mindfulness techniques.  Kerry facilitates Mindfulness groups within the service, and also works alongside secondary care wellbeing provision to provide Art-Wellbeing groups for clients. Kerry has completed a foundation course in Art-Therapy and worked on a pilot project for two years with our Eating Disorder Service, providing such a specialist service in the community.  

Ailsa Parsons

Ailsa is a Chartered Psychologist, wellbeing coach and Dance Movement Psychotherapist at Authentic Moves. She is also a Lecturer in Psychology and leads the BSc (Hons) Psychology of Sport programme at the University of Salford.

Ailsa’s areas of research interest include lifestyle behaviour change, Dance Movement Psychotherapy, depression, anxiety, obesity, eating disorders, physical activity, exercise and performance psychology. Clinically, Ailsa works with children, young people and adults using Dance Movement Psychotherapy, Motivational Interviewing, lifestyle coaching and other creative methods, to address issues such as depression, anxiety, eating disorders, obesity, psychotic illness and sports/exercise-related issues. In researching towards a PhD by published works, her experiences in NHS, educational and Mental Health and Social Care settings continue to present new avenues for the application of creative, active and body-oriented approaches.

Dr Scott Thurston

Dr Scott Thurston is one of the co-researchers and part of the steering group for the project. Scott is a poet, mover and educator working at the University of Salford in Manchester, UK. He is currently the Director of Research for English Literature, Language and Creative Practice research group in the Arts, Media and Communication Research Centre. His research interests are in contemporary innovative British and North American poetry and poetics with a long-standing interest in the relationship between radical dance and movement practices and experimental writing.

He has published twelve books and chapbooks of poetry, including three full-length collections (See Publications page) Shearsman: Hold (2006), Momentum (2008) and Internal Rhyme (2010). More recent work includes Reverses Heart’s Reassembly (Veer, 2011), Figure Detached Figure Impermanent(Oystercatcher, 2014) and Poems for the Dance (Aquifer, 2017).

Scott is founding co-editor of open access Journal of British and Irish Innovative Poetry and co-organizer of the long-running poetry reading series The Other Room in Manchester. Since 2004, he has been developing a poetics integrating dance and poetry which has seen him studying with dancers in Berlin and New York and collaborating with dancers Sarie Mairs Slee and Julia Griffin in the UK. His poetic work responds to ongoing encounters with various dance and movement practices including Five Rhythms, Movement Medicine and Open Floor, alongside Authentic Movement, Qi Gong and Alexander Technique.

Dr Linda Dubrow-Marshall

Dr Linda Dubrow-Marshall is a clinical and counselling psychologist (HCPC Registered) and a BACP Accredited Counsellor/Psychotherapist.

Linda is the Head of Psychology and Senior Lecturer at the University of Salford, where she is the co-programme lead for the MSc Psychology of Coercive Control and MSc Applied Psychology (Therapies) programmes. Previously, Linda has designed and managed the Counselling and Wellbeing Service at the University of Salford, and taught for the MSc in Counselling (Professional Training). Linda describes herself as an integrative psychotherapist, and incorporates hypnotherapy and EMDR into practice. Linda obtained her PhD in Counselling Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania, USA. Research interests include: Psychology of undue influence and coercive persuasion (e.g. cults and extremist groups), group dynamics and family systems, ethical psychotherapy, psychotherapy outcome, practitioner self-care, CBT and physical health, trauma recovery and single session psychotherapy.

Julianne Harlow

Julianne is a Senior Lecturer in (Applied) Health and Social Care at Edge Hill University and part of the clinical group in the Arts for the Blues project.

Julianne is currently the Programme Lead MSc Child and Adolescent Mental Health and Wellbeing and Senior Lecturer for BSc Child Health and Wellbeing. Julianne is also the Module Leader for; FDH1103 Child Development in the Social Context HUG2229 Public Health and Health Promotion HUG3238 Positive Behaviour Support HUG2135 The Safeguarding Agenda. Other elements of her role include dissertation supervisor for undergraduate and postgraduate (MSc Advanced Practice) dissertations. Julianne is also the departmental representative on Retention Committee, delivers Solihull Parenting Training, facilitates British Red Cross Paediatric First Aid Training and is the external examiner for BA Health & Social Care, Nottingham Trent University. 

Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, Recordable teacher status, Leading an Empowered Organisation, Programme Registered Specialist Community Public Health, Nurse – Health Visitor, Recorded Community Practitioner Nurse Prescriber, Management Introductory Award, Teaching and Assessing in Clinical Practice.

Shelly Haslam


Lecturer in Applied Health & Social Care, Edge Hill University

Shelly’s employment background is diverse, having worked across a range of care settings including; children, young people, adults and older adults. As a registered Mental Health Nurse, Shelly also has a range of experiences working in forensic, acute, learning disability and long term care settings and with these service user groups. She has a passion for improving the quality of health and social care, having worked in workforce development for eight years prior to moving into lecturing. 

Academically, Shelly has studied in the fields of social sciences, psychology, health, social care and education. Shelly currently lectures on the Child Health and Wellbeing degree, but also has input in other subject areas. Shelly is currently undertaking a PhD focusing on Service Quality, happiness and satisfaction in the elderly care setting. Other areas of research interest include; Crime, deviance and youth offending, Third sector offender management, Mental Health, Change management in health and social care services and Quality improvement in social care.

Professor Nicola Clayton

Nicola Clayton is Professor of Comparative Cognition in the Department of Psychology at the University of Cambridge, a Fellow of Clare College and a Fellow of the Royal Society. Her expertise lies in the contemporary study of comparative cognition, integrating a knowledge of both biology and psychology to introduce new ways of thinking about the evolution and development of intelligence in non-verbal animals and pre-verbal children.

Nicky is also the first Scientist in Residence at Rambert (formerly Rambert Dance Company). She collaborates with Mark Baldwin, the Artistic Director, on new choreographic works inspired by science including the Laurence Oliver award winning Comedy of Change, and Seven For A Secret Never To Be Told. Their latest piece, What Wild Ecstasy, saw its London première in May 2012.

Nicky’s most recent collaboration is with artist and writer, Clive Wilkins, who is Artist in Residence in the Psychology Department. Together they founded The Captured Thought. This started about three years ago and arose out of their mutual interest in mental time travel, and its consequences for consciousness, identity, memory and creativity. They also regularly dance tango together.

Jennifer Lewis

Jen is the research assistant for the project. She has a varied background including working in a special educational needs college with young adults, with a focus on supporting engagement with the arts. She has a keen interest in visual arts and crafts and is interested in how the arts can affect mental wellbeing. In the past she worked for a national charity programming creative and commercial events.