quote HEE facebook linkedin twitter bracketDetail search file-download keyboard-arrow-down keyboard-arrow-right close event-note

You are here

AHP Workforce Reform Priorities 2021/2022

Developed with The British Association of Dramatherapists (BADth), British Association for Music Therapy (BAMT) and British Association of Art Therapists (BAAT).


The work includes the following research projects:

Project 1: Art, Drama and Music Therapies and Dual Identity as Allied Health Professions and Psychological Therapies

Although Allied Health Professionals (AHPs), Art, Drama and Music Therapists are often employed within Psychological Therapies services. As AHPs, Art, Drama and Music Therapists may not be included in Psychological Therapies workforce planning even when employed within these services. Many are employed under generic titles (e.g., Project Worker) whilst delivering Art, Drama and Music therapies as part of their job and identifying them within the NHS workforce has been often difficult.  

Art, Drama and Music Therapists have worked across this dual identity for a long time, with markedly different outcomes linked to local contexts. Some Art, Drama and Music Therapists have reported positive experiences of integrated work across AHPs and Psychological Therapies enhancing service-user choice and professional development. Others have felt poorly integrated as well as thinly spread across both, thus limiting service users’ access to Art, Drama and Music therapies, and impacting job satisfaction and staff retention. 

This project, funded and supported by HEE, initially aimed to co-produce and publish a shared career framework on how best Art, Drama and Music Therapists could work across this dual identity. A separate initiative to include Art, Drama and Music Therapies within the Psychological Professions Network (PPN) has impacted positively on the initial aim of this project, as this addresses concerns of being excluded from the PPN voiced by several interviewees. Furthermore, the project objectives have yielded information that will be useful to ensure the successful integration of Art, Drama and Music Therapies within AHPs and Psychological Therapies. 

Read the full report.


Project 2: NHS Practice Placement Expansion Communication Strategy for Art, Drama and Music Therapists

Practice placements are an essential component of health and care professional training.  They work best when supported by experienced clinicians and supervisors, and properly embedded within organisations. For Art, Drama and Music Therapies trainees, job prospects mean that NHS placement experience is essential: “Each student should have at least one NHS placement experience.”1 However, there are at present too few NHS placements to meet this demand.  

NHS placements expansion for Art, Drama and Music Therapies has been supported by HEE (Clinical Placements Expansion Programme project, March 2022) and outcomes include an increase in placement numbers and a broadening of placement providers and settings. However, this trend needs to be sustained and increased. This project focused on developing a communication strategy to support NHS placements expansion, and on identifying best practices and areas needing improvement among Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) and current placement providers to maintain this growth. The summary of findings and data analysis can be found further down within this report. 

HEE funding supported the making of 3 films aimed at potential new NHS placement providers: one introductory film to highlight the benefits of providing Art, Drama and Music Therapies trainee placements and two shorter films focussed on trainee placements within Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) and within Adult Mental Health Services (AMHS).  A consultation process identified CAMHS and AMHS as the most promising specialist practice areas for placement expansion.  All films can be accessed below.

Watch the remaining videos here.

Read the full project report.


Project 3: Identifying priorities in future workforce of art, drama, and music therapy, and promoting examples of good practice in postgraduate training programmes across the UK

This project was funded by Health Education England (HEE) aiming to a) identify priorities in the future workforce of art, drama, and music therapy; and b) recognise and promote examples of good practice in postgraduate training programmes of art, drama, and music therapy across the UK. 

The first phase involved semi-structured interviews with eight NHS employers (e.g., Leads or Heads of AHPs, consultant art, drama, or music therapists) to identify the skills that trainees and newly qualified art, drama, and music therapists may need the most in the future, particularly to be employed by the NHS. Based on these interviews, a list of seven core skills was developed, which were considered the most crucial for the future workforce. These skills were: multi-disciplinary skills; understanding of Equity, Inclusion and Diversity (EDI) principles; confidence and communication skills (including confidence in getting the first job and communicating the role of the profession); research skills; leadership and strategic skills; digital literacy skills; and generic skills.  

The second phase involved 12 semi-structured interviews with course leaders in postgraduate programmes of art, drama, and music therapy, which aimed to identify and celebrate examples of existing good practices that could develop the above skillset.  

The third phase involved the distribution of a survey to trainees and newly qualified art, drama, and music therapists to understand their perspectives in terms of what worked well in their postgraduate programmes, as well as their own suggestions on teaching and learning strategies that could make their training experience even better. 55 trainees and newly qualified practitioners completed the survey, specifically, 34 art therapists, 14 music therapists, and 7 dramatherapists. 

Read the full report.