Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Surviving to thriving: Impact of art interventions on the wellbeing of women who have experienced sexual violence

Holt, Nicola; Grace, Pippa; Halliwell, Emma


Profile Image

Nicola Holt
Associate Professor in Psychology

Pippa Grace


This evaluation report describes a series of art workshops designed to support the wellbeing of people who have experienced sexual violence, run through Somerset and Avon Rape and Sexual Abuse Support (SARSAS;, led by socially engaged artist Pippa Grace (OneStory; and evaluated by Drs Nicola Holt and Emma Halliwell from the University of the West of England.

41 females participated in a programme of art workshops (‘Surviving to Thriving’), eight of whom took part in a subsequent programme to develop their art practice further (INSPIRE). The impact on their wellbeing was evaluated using mixed methods: 1) a pre-post evaluation using the Warwick Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale (WEMWBS) at the start and end of programmes; 2) a process evaluation, examining the impact of each workshop on mood, attention and social connection; and 3) qualitative questionnaires and focus groups to examine the meaning of the programme for participants.

The evaluation outcomes suggested that the art-based interventions were effective at improving the wellbeing of participants. During art workshops participants’ anxiety and loneliness decreased, while happiness and alertness increased. Participants with the greatest
improvements in mood during art workshops were also those who reported the greatest wellbeing benefits over time. A thematic analysis resulted in three themes, indicating that participants felt a special bond with others in the group with whom they felt a sense of understanding and of being understood (‘Social Connection’); this safe space allowed opportunities to relax, explore art and become absorbed in the process of making (‘Time for Self-care’). Through this process participants described a new sense of identity, feeling empowered, confident and creative (‘New Identities’).

Future work is required to build on and replicate these findings, and to examine the sustainability and longitudinal impact of art workshops. However, these findings support the use of art interventions to help improve the wellbeing of women who have experienced sexual violence.


Holt, N., Grace, P., & Halliwell, E. (2022). Surviving to thriving: Impact of art interventions on the wellbeing of women who have experienced sexual violence. One Story

Report Type Project Report
Acceptance Date Oct 3, 2022
Online Publication Date Oct 3, 2022
Publication Date Oct 3, 2022
Deposit Date Oct 8, 2022
Publicly Available Date Oct 10, 2022
Keywords Arts and health, sexual violence, wellbeing, art intervention
Public URL
Related Public URLs


You might also like

Downloadable Citations