15: Building research capacity: scaffolding the process through arts-based pedagogy

Research into arts-based interventions is complex as art cannot be directly translated into words. Increasingly, there has been a global incessant call for research into using the arts in a range of mental health disciplines. Ongoing debates over methodology, primarily quantitative and qualitative, persist and this just may affect one’s decision to engage in research. However, research is needed for a range of reasons including providing evidence of the integrity of a discipline, asserting core competencies of practitioners, for third party and stakeholder purposes including advocacy, the formation of relevant laws, protections, and access to services, and, of course, to highlight emerging trends and contemporary best practices to effectively address a plethora of the complex needs of clients. As such, arts-based practitioners are uniquely situated to make significant contributions to the research base given their direct engagement with the arts with individuals, families, communities, and society at large (; ). Art is rich with metaphor and symbol, and often can be accessed and applied when answers to questions are not easily obtained nor addressed through words alone, even if the art may seem abstract at first (; ; ; ; ). Indeed, art is not the opposite of research as in the dichotomic paradigm of arts versus science, but rather art, and art making, are a type of research in and of themselves, just as research can also involve creativity and nonlinear engagement (; ).

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