Dr Sarah  Haywood is a Lecturer within the Occupational Therapy and Arts Therapies Division at Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh. Sarah also has affiliations with Health and Care Professions Council and British Association of Art Therapists.



Before training as an Art Psychotherapist I worked for 10 years as a researcher and lecturer at the Universities of Edinburgh and York, with special interests in language and communication. I graduated from the Art Therapy programme at Queen Margaret University in 2010 and was awarded the 2012 British Association of Art Therapists’ Student Essay Prize.

After registering with the Health and Care Professions Council in 2010 I worked in school-based counselling services in Scotland for around a decade, offering therapeutic support for children and young people aged 4-18. I have a particular interest in the impact of the digital world on young people’s relationships, development and mental health, and in young people’s experiences of self-harm, suicidal feelings, and their experiences of being ‘safeguarded’ in relation to these.

Since 2017 I have been a lecturer at Queen Margaret University, teaching on the arts therapies programmes. I also work as a trainer for Place2Be, and as a Volunteer Counsellor at CrossReach Perinatal Service. I have undertaken additional training to diploma level in Cross-Professional Creative Supervision and Reflective Practice, and sometimes take on private clients for supervision.

Research Interests

Research Overview:

My PhD and postdoctoral research at the University of Edinburgh focused on ‘audience design’ – the process by which speakers try to make themselves understandable to their audience. This research was funded by grants from the Economic and Social Research Council and the British Academy.

For my MSc research I focused on liminality (a term from social anthropology) and alchemy (as studied by Carl Jung) as useful concepts for helping us to understand childhood sexual abuse, and the role of art therapy in helping children and young people to recover from trauma.

I am interested in young people’s experiences in the digital world, and how these experiences impact relationships, development and mental health. Since I started working with parents who have young children, I am interested to expand my research to include perinatal and infant mental health. I have also published some research looking at the dynamics of online art therapy.

Active research interests:

  • Children and young people’s mental health
  • Perinatal mental health and infant mental health
  • Creative approaches to supervision and reflective practice
  • The impact of digital technologies and social media on young people’s relationships and attachments
  • Experiences of liminality (‘threshold experiences’) and the sublime and their relevance for art psychotherapy
  • Alchemy as a metaphor and mechanism for transformation in art psychotherapy
  • Art therapy theory, research and practice in the digital world

Research Methods:

  • Ethnography and Duoethnography
  • Action research
  • A/r/tography
  • Arts-based research methods


Dr Sarah Haywood is also an Associate of the Centre for Person-centred Research Practice.

Teaching and Learning

I teach on the MSc Art Psychotherapy programme and on modules that we share with other pathways in the Arts Therapies Cluster and the MSc Person-centred Practice Framework. I am a group supervisor and have previously facilitated Interpersonal Learning Groups for our Art Psychotherapy learners.

I am a member of the Division of Occupational Therapy and Arts Therapies ‘TALDEG’ Shared Governance group (Teaching and Learning Delivery and Enhancement Group) and I am especially interested in how we can make teaching and learning inclusive and accessible for all.