Dr Nicola Holt

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  • Qualifications:BA (Hons) Psychology, University of Durham; MSc Consciousness Studies and Transpersonal Psychology, Liverpool JM University; PhD Creativity and anomalous experiences, University of Northampton; Foundation in Art Psychotherapy, Sheffield NHS Trust; PGCHE, UWE.
  • Position:Associate Professor of Psychology
  • Department:HAS - Health and Social Sciences
  • Telephone:+4411732 81420
  • Email:Nicola.Holt@uwe.ac.uk

About me

Nicola is a senior academic and chartered psychologist whose work focuses on creativity, mental health and wellbeing. She has expertise in experimental research and the evaluation of complex interventions. She has a particular interest in the experience sampling method, a quantitative, longitudinal method to track people's immediate experience (e.g. mood) in everyday life, and using this to learn more about processes of change.

Nicola's research focuses on two key areas: creativity and schizotypy; and the arts and health. She has published book chapters and research papers exploring the role that 'positive schizotypy' ('unusual experiences', including pseudo-hallucinations and magical thinking) plays in the creative process. Her second strand of research explores the impact of the visual arts on wellbeing. Recently published work has examined the immediate effects of 'mindfulness colouring' on mood and cognition, and the impact of arts on prescription workshops on wellbeing (tracking mood over time).  

Nicola's teaching focuses on mental health, creativity and the arts. She supervises level three research projects on these topics. She leads three undergraduate psychology modules: Psychology in Action (level one), focusing on the application of psychology in everyday life; Identities in Psychology (level two), examining the nature of personhood and individual differences; and the Arts and Mental Health (level three). The latter brings together staff across faculties with a wealth of expertise (including art therapy, music therapy, therapeutic writing, art in prisons and the arts and dementia).

Nicola enjoys collaborating with applied arts and health professionals and organisations, and is currently working on projects with Bristol Arts on Referral Alliance, who deliver arts for health interventions both in primary care (e.g. referrals from GPs to reduce symptoms of  anxiety and depression) and secondary care (e.g., arts on referral is used at Southmead Hospital to help with chronic pain). She also collaborates with Bristol Culture to help evaluate community art for wellbeing workshops at the MShed and Blaise Castle. Together, we are now collaborating with the Arnolfini to disseminate arts and wellbeing activities online.

Nicola is a member of the Psychological Sciences Research Group, within which she leads a Special Interest Group on the arts and health (DRAW: Delivering and Researching the Arts for Wellbeing).

Nicola is Co-Editor-in-Chief of Arts & Health and an Associate Editor for the International Journal of Art Therapy.

Area of expertise


Art and wellbeing


Experience Sampling Methodology

Anomalistic Psychology

Current research projects

  • An evalution of arts on referral in primary and secondary care, as part of an Arts Council funded project run by FreshArts at Southmead Hospital.
  • 'The healing art of Kashmir' - an Arts and Humantities Research Council funded project, examining the impact of art interventions on the wellbeing of children in Kashmir, in the context of conflict and lockdown.


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