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Phil Jones, Lynn Cedar, Alyson Coleman, Deborah Haythorne, Daniel Mercieca, Emma Ramsden

Memory, beliefs, childhoods and the arts therapies: challenges and innovations

Childhoods are changing. Centuries old cultural traditions, held and passed on through the interconnections of memory and oppressive attitudes are being challenged. These have been seen as unquestioned norms and maintained in ways that range from our individual and collective unconscious to healthcare policies and practices. Memory and beliefs hold and keep alive negative stereotypes of a child as passive, unable to make decisions of worth and needing adults to make decisions or to act in their ‘best interests’ about children's bodies and minds.

This keynote is based on innovatory theory, research and practice that challenges the power of such cultural memory and attitude. It connects drama, art, music and dance movement therapy to recent developments in the new sociology of childhood (Corsaro, 2017) and children's rights (Jones and Welch 2020) to develop new ways of theorising, researching and practising arts therapy with children. It will draw on a range of perspectives, including those of child clients. The keynote will be driven by three questions:
• How do traditional cultural beliefs and our collective memories and associations with childhood impact negatively on therapy with children?
• How can recent concepts and practices rooted in child rights, child voice and child agency offer challenges to the influences of such memories and associations on the arts therapies?
• What do such innovative ideas and ways of working offer to children, arts therapy service provision, research and therapist education?


Lynn Cedar is the co-founder and a Co-Chief Executive Officer of Roundabout, the largest registered dramatherapy charity in the UK, offering a dramatherapy service London-wide. Lynn trained as a drama and movement therapist in 1985 and has extensive dramatherapy experience with varying client groups. She completed her first supervision training at the Maudsley Professional Development Centre in May 1999 and completed her Dramatherapy M.A at the Central School Of Speech and Drama in June 2003. Lynn is a co-founder of the CAST supervision training and has continuously worked with clients in schools and residential settings, she also has a private supervision practice. Publications include 'Child Agency and Voice: New Ways of Working in the Arts Therapies' (2021 with Coleman, Haythorne, Jones, Mercieca and Ramsden, Routledge) and a chapter in Pearson (Ed.) 'Discovering The Self Through Drama and Movement – The Sesame Approach' (1997 Jessica Kingsley).

Dr Alyson Coleman is a Dramatherapist, Course Leader of the Creative Arts Supervision Training (CAST) and Senior Lecturer on the MA Drama and Movement Therapy training at Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, London. Her Professional Doctorate, supported by an NHS scholarship, focused on the multi-disciplinary experiences of therapists, health care and educational professionals working with children and young people with life limiting and/or life threatening conditions. She co-founded Willow, a dramatherapeutic Children’s Bereavement Service for NHS Croydon. She has a private dramatherapy and supervision practice. Alyson's publications include ‘Child Agency and Voice in Therapy: New Ways of Working in the Arts Therapies' (2021 with Cedar, Haythorne, Jones, Mercieca and Ramsden, Routledge).

Deborah Haythorne is Co-Chief Executive of Roundabout, the largest Dramatherapy charity in the UK. Deborah is an experienced supervisor was co-founder of the Creative Arts Supervision Training. Deborah has maintained a clinical caseload for over thirty five years working with children, young people and adults. She has researched dramatherapy practice with children and has co-written and co-edited a number of articles and books in this area. Her latest publication is: 'Child Agency and Voice in Therapy: New Ways of Working in the Arts Therapies' (2021 with Jones, Coleman, Cedar, Mercieca and Ramsden, Routledge).

Phil Jones is Professor of Children’s Rights and Wellbeing at UCL's Institute of Education. He has given keynotes in many countries including South Africa, South Korea, the U.S.A. and the Triennial World Congress for Psychotherapy, Australia. He trained as a dramatherapist, but some twenty years ago left the field, moving to childhood studies, though his research connects with adjacent themes. In 2017 he was awarded a Fellowship of the Royal Society of the Arts in recognition of his contribution to the field of children's rights. Publications include ‘Child Agency and Voice in Therapy’ (2021 with Cedar, Coleman, Haythorne, Mercieca and Ramsden, Routledge); 'Rethinking Children's Rights' (2018 Bloomsbury) and 'Rethinking Childhood' (2009 Continuum). His 'Drama as Therapy' (Routledge 2007) is the most cited book on its subject, with over 1,000 citations (Google Scholar). Articles have been published in journals including 'Counselling and Psychotherapy Research'; the 'European Journal of Counselling and Psychotherapy'; and 'Reflective Practice: International and Multidisciplinary Perspectives'. He is series editor for 'New Childhoods' (Bloomsbury).

Dr Daniel Mercieca, Clinical Coordinator (Adolescents) and dramatherapist at Caritas Malta, lectures on a part-time basis at the University of Malta and is one of the founder members of the Creative Arts Therapies Society in Malta. He was also a member of the National Institute for Childhood within the President’s Foundation for the Wellbeing of Society, Malta. Having completed training in integrative relational supervision at the European Centre for Psychotherapeutic Studies, Daniel offers supervision to health care professionals. Daniel completed his PhD 'Children’s Views of Psychotherapy in Residential Alternative Care in Malta' at the Institute of Education, University College London. He has contributed to the book 'Dramatherapy with Children, Young People and Schools: Enabling Creativity, Sociability, Communication and Learning' (2012) and is co-author of 'Child Agency and Voice in Therapy’ (2021 with Jones, Cedar, Coleman, Haythorne, and Ramsden, Routledge). He has presented at a number of conferences internationally

Recent Publications and Presentations

Jones, P. (2021) The Arts Therapies: A Revolution in Healthcare, Second Edition,
London: Routledge.
Ramsden, E. & Landy, R. J. (2021) Role Theory and the Role Method of Drama Therapy explored through the case of Peter Pan. In Read Johnson, D., Current Approaches in Drama Therapy, USA, Charles Thomas.
Ecarte (2019) Shine a Light on Autism (SaLoA) - Feasibility study for a Randomised Control Trial (RCT) of Dramatherapy for Children with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (autism) in schools: presentation of preliminary findings (Ramsden, Cedar, Haythorne, Barrachina, Lewis, Fontenille).
Mercieca, D. and Jones, P. (2018) ‘Use of a reference group in researching children’s views of psychotherapy in Malta’, Journal of Child Psychotherapy, Vol. 44, No. 2, 243–262.
Coleman, D. and Ramsden, E. (2017) Paper presentation ‘The voice of the membership: Dramatherapy in the UK today’, North American Association of Drama Therapy, Boston, USA.

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