Community and Connection

Dancing to recovery with Alchemy Project

An innovative dance-led scheme, supporting young people's wellbeing and recovery

Thanks to generous donations the Maudsley Charity has been able to support the Alchemy project, young adults accessing Early Intervention in Psychosis Services took part in the innovative dance-led scheme. The project supported young people in their recovery alongside their existing treatment programmes.

The dance intervention has proved very successful for its participants. Clinically, wellbeing has been measured to have improved significantly, and personally, lots of positive feedback has been received.

The benefits of early intervention

‘By investing our efforts early on in the course of psychosis, we can really transform lives,’ explains Matthew Taylor, Consultant Psychiatrist in Early Intervention. ‘This early investment pays back the effort that takes twenty times over.’

Motivation through movement

The project ran for four weeks, with groups of twelve young adults and six peer mentors. Participants have lessons in contemporary dance, intensively learning and rehearsing an original dance work. At the end of the four weeks participants perform the piece to family and friends, allowing their loved ones see them in a different light and for them to all celebrate their achievements together.

‘It’s a kick-start for them to think differently about themselves and what they could do in their lives,’ says Carly Annable-Coop, Project Director. ‘Dance allows us to make that shift; in terms of meeting new people, building new relationships. They build a bit more motivation in their lives.’

As well as teaching dance, the workshops aim to improve participants’ wellbeing by focusing on what people can achieve rather than their deficits. The workshops can also be a great help for various important aspects of recovery, such as counteracting symptoms like apathy and lack of motivation through physical exercise, and creating social connections to help people overcome feelings of isolation.

‘When I go there I forget that I’m having this problem,’ says one participant. ‘I can step out of myself, I can be normal again.

A swell of support

The Alchemy Project received a swell of support from major mental health bodies. Project leaders are now exploring ways that the programme can be sustained longer term into the future, and hope to encourage these groups to adopt the model.

Programmes like The Alchemy Project are not only valuable interventions for service users, but also vital in helping to challenge the preconceptions of mental health professionals in what young people suffering from psychosis can achieve. Contact for more information on the project.