Moving Beyond Belief
Research as a Creative Act of inquiry

This event was held on October 1st 2022.

Have you wondered about doing research on your work but weren’t sure if it was for you? 

Have you felt that research was too academic and not creative enough for you? 

Through offering practical examples of research carried out within our community, we aim to show in this Professional Development Event learning outcomes of: 

  • Finding research can be a creative activity and
  • That there are more ways to do research inquiry than via traditional “scientific” methodologies.
  • Participants leave with the awareness of several different creative research methodologies  

This workshop will be led by three esteemed presenters. 

Steve Harvey, Heather Hill and Sue Mullane will each share their own experiences with research and creative approaches and solutions they have found on HOW to ask and answer the questions important to their practice. 

We aim to inspire participants to consider doing research into their current area of work or coming up with a research idea into some other area of interest. Please contact us here to gain access to the event.

Alternative Approaches to Research in Creative Arts Therapy Steve Harvey (PhD)

Typical research projects that are based on both qualitative and quantitative methods require funding and a significant retirement of time. These demands limit the projects that many creative arts therapists who work outside of a university context can do. This presentation will introduce how an arts-based approach and action research can be applied in the clinical context and contribute to the field in important ways. Some examples of applications in the clinical context and from ongoing projects will be included.  

Steve Harvey, PhD, is currently an adjunct professor in psychology at the University of Guam. He is also a creative arts therapist who is registered in several creative arts and play therapy associations. His current research interests include how creative arts can address international crises and in clinical situations.

From Numbers to Personal Meaning: a Beginner Researcher’s Journey Heather Hill (PhD)

Having no idea about how to do research but having been given the opportunity to do so at her workplace, Heather embarked on her first research project in the early 90s. Given that the colleague advising her was a psychologist, it was natural to start with a traditional “positivist” research methodology.

In this webinar, Heather will describe her journey across two research studies, during which her perspectives evolved on what questions were important to her dance movement therapy practice with people with dementia, and how she might attempt to answer them. Starting from a very traditional methodological base, she came to appreciate that there is no one way of knowing/enquiring, and that the “best” methodology is the one that is best suited to answering the question being asked and is consistent with the researcher’s personal and professional philosophy. Rather than a dry academic “ivory tower” exercise, research inquiry can deeply engage in practice, take multiple forms, and offer creative challenges that should be very appealing to the creative people that dance movement therapists are.

Heather Hill, PhD, worked for over 30 years as dance movement therapist and now focuses on training in the area of dance and dementia. She did two research projects as part of her M.Ed and subsequently a PhD thesis. She also worked at MIECAT in Melbourne for several years teaching the MIECAT Form of Inquiry (multi-modal, arts-based inquiry) and supervising and marking research theses. She has long advocated for dance movement therapists to move beyond traditional models of research and explore the increasingly wide array of methodologies which professionals are applying in their fields.

Aligning with the tenets of Performative Research Sue Mullane (PhD)

For many years, Sue studied improvised movement under Al Wunder (Melbourne) which imprinted in her a deep appreciation for what the art form can contribute to artistic, educational, and therapeutic processes. Expanding on this understanding, Sue utilised the theoretical structure of Wunder’s model, as well as the practice itself, as the method of inquiry in her doctoral thesis. This workshop will explore some of the tenets of Sue’s approach as it aligns with performative research (Haseman, 2006; 2010). In performative research, the theory/practice binary is collapsed as the research is led by the practice, where the tools and processes utilised by the practitioner are legitimised as research tools and processes. Performative research is necessarily experiential and improvisational as it energises the act of practising and generates distinctive responses within it which impact the practitioner. Fundamentally, it discerns a methodological purpose that harnesses intellect and sensation, where the mind collaborates with, rather than controls, the body.

Sue Mullane (PhD) is an experienced dance movement therapist and educator. Her five-year collaboration with Sarah McGregor centred on developing group movement programs for women at the South Eastern Centre Against Sexual Assault and was documented in Sue’s M. Ed. (University of Melbourne) research project. Her doctoral research (Deakin University) utilised a post-humanist interpretation of the ‘accompanied solo’, a shared improvised movement model Sue devised for use with students in special developmental schools. Sue’s expertise in research includes use of improvised movement as a structure for, and practice of, whole-person investigation where nonverbal as well as verbal ways of producing and presenting knowledge are utilised.

Haseman, B. (2006). A manifesto for performative research. Media International Australia, Incorporating Culture and Policy, 118, 98-106. Retrieved from
Haseman, B. (2010). Rupture and recognition: Identifying the performative research paradigm. In E. Barrett & B. Bolt (Eds.), Practice as research: Approaches to creative arts enquiry (pp. 147-157). New York: I. B. Tauris-Bloomsbury.