Lecturer, Art Psychotherapy


Lesley is an Art Psychotherapist, Social Worker and International Researcher and Project Manager in African countries


Lesley has an extensive background of working with adults with learning and physical disabilities in residential and day-care settings, and as a Senior Art Psychotherapist and Clinical Supervisor in an NHS Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) team in Scotland. Her skills in working with organisations and systems led to a role as an assessor for Quality Network of Community CAMHS (QNCC) across the UK.  

In the last 10 years, following her concern for how the wellbeing of the most vulnerable in society might be addressed, she has sought a greater understanding of global conceptualisations of mental health. She founded an NGO Zambia Therapeutic Art (ZTA), and with a small group of art therapists designed and delivered short courses in therapeutic art for health and education professionals in Zambia. The current ZTA programme is focusing on adolescent health and piloting the introduction of therapeutic art training for HIV peer counsellors. 

In 2016 she completed her MSc in Africa and International Development at University of Edinburgh and her dissertation research in Zambia identified the impacts of masculinities and men’s mental health on HIV/TB health outcomes. Her current research activity continues to focus on masculinities and health in Zambia.

Affiliations (including memberships) to other organisations:    

  • Health Care and Professions Council  
  • British Association of Art Therapists


Research Interests

Research Overview: 

My research life is built on a long career as a practitioner in mental health contexts in UK, Ghana, and Zambia. I bring experiences of working with extremely vulnerable adults and children and my psychotherapeutic skills and ‘listening’ stance to my research thinking – focusing on person-centeredness, cultural awareness and learning, and co–production of interventions.

My aim is to contribute to improving the lives of vulnerable people through developing and testing locally produced or shaped interventions (Zambia and Ghana). My areas of interest include the impacts of enacted masculinities on health outcomes in HIV contexts in Zambia and the testing of the Zambia Therapeutic Art approach with HIV peer counsellors in poor urban communities in Lusaka.

I work with researchers based at Zambart in Zambia and HEARD at KwaZulu-Natal University in South Africa.  I am also a member of a health partnership linking NHS Highland, European universities, and health and university teams in Ghana, Zambia, and Malawi – where the recent focus has been on developing digital and arts-based approaches to improve adolescent mental health. 

Active research interests:  

  • Masculinities, men’s mental health & HIV risks in Sub-Saharan Africa
  • Psychosocial and arts-based interventions for adolescents and young people living with HIV
  • Using art-based interventions and art as a research tool
  • Global mental health
  • Social Science 

Research Methods: 

  • Qualitative methods
  • Mixed methods
  • Participatory methods
  • Art-based methods 

Teaching & Learning

I teach on courses on the Art Psychotherapy MSc programme. My roles includes setting up and overseeing practice placements and supervising students clinical practice.