Social Work and Arts Therapies

As an educational social worker, you work with children, adolescents and senior citizens who require temporary assistance and support. You help them solve problems, so they can get back on their feet and live independently again. Creative therapists are also professionals trained to assist people with certain problems, such as adults suffering from chronic depression or children with autism spectrum disorders. They use artistic resources in their therapy sessions, such as music, drawing and other forms of art.

Research into educational social work and creative therapy

The department of Social Work and Arts Therapies is conducting research into support services provided in the educational social work and creative therapy fields. Our objective is to further increase knowledge and apply it in the education provided and research done at NHL Stenden University of Applied Sciences. Our two main areas of focus are professional practice in healthcare and related services, professional methods and quality improvement. 

Publications Research Group

Overview of all publications by this research group


The members of the Research Group are involved in a variety of studies and projects. For further information about interaction between the field and professional education programmes, see the publication Het Scharnierpunt: an introduction to the research conducted by the members of the Research Group.

N=1 as a research method for the Bachelor’s programme final-year project

Students of the School of Social Work & Arts Therapies receive training based on the N=1 research method, a method closely linked to their practical work as therapists or counsellors. This aspect of the training makes it significantly easier for the students to conduct research.

Social networking approaches to Forensic Psychiatry

This PhD study concerns processes involving the personal social network of forensic psychiatric patients in relation to their risk behaviour, whereby the Forensic Social Network Analysis serves as a key focus. Experience has shown that strong personal networks help people avoid individuals and situations that could potentially lead to trouble.

Rebound Project

The Rebound Project deals with the assistance provided to young people who are temporarily placed in a Time Out (i.e. a “Rebound”), with the objective of facilitating their reintegration into mainstream education. Parents, teachers and friends are all actively involved in this process, and students assist with this N=1 research.

Short-term active music therapy to treat depression

The central question asked as part of this N=1 study was whether short-term musical therapy for people suffering from depression can produce results short-term musical therapy for people suffering from depression can produce results. It turned out that short-term active musical therapy reduces the symptoms of depression among clients.

Focus on depression

Almost 20% of the Dutch population is affected by depression at some point in their lives. Of this number, 50% recover within three months, while 15-20% wind up developing chronic depression. The purpose of the ‘Depressie in beeld’ (Focus on depression) study is to develop a creative therapeutic approach for adults suffering from chronic depression.

Effects of music therapy on the social behaviour of children with autism spectrum disorders

Past research has demonstrated that music therapists employ a host of different methods. As part of this research, we are developing a standard music therapy treatment method standard music therapy treatment method. The objective of these efforts is improving people’s social behaviour.

Strengthen your Network

The Versterk je Netwerk/Strengthen your Network project helps students in senior secondary vocational education at the Friese Poort Regional Education Centre in Leeuwarden to increase their chances of finding a job. These young people receive training in school which teaches them to expand their social network, in addition to one-on-one coaching sessions. We apply the N=1 method to measure the impact of this project.

Evaluation project for neighbourhood exercise programme

The Bewegen in de Wijk/Neighbourhood Exercise project offers easy exercise activities to patients in the Heechterp-Schieringen section of Leeuwarden. The objective of the project is to improve the health of the participants and strengthen ties in the community. Our department was commissioned to evaluate this project, in which we were assisted by students. The result was that the majority of participants showed up for the classes, stuck with the programme, and also ended up making new friends.

‘Don’t Miss Out’ method

The ‘Don't Miss Out’ method is based on the assumption that specific behaviour leads to aggressive incidents: young people don’t start exhibiting aggressive behaviour for no reason at all, and there tends to be a build-up of tension before they resort to such behaviour. This method has proved highly successful, and one of the results is that it helps reduce aggressive behaviour among young people.

Working with students and the sector

We carry out our research with a number of partners, including businesses, institutions, governments and students. Our mission is to develop and research methods of innovation in conjunction with lecturers, sector representatives and students with the objective of improving the position of vulnerable individuals in our society.

The department of Social Work and Arts Therapies also works with the Netherlands Ministry of Public Health, Welfare and Sport, the Ministry of Justice, municipal governments, regional and national institutions providing care for the elderly and young people, home care, care for the disabled and people with intellectual disabilities, and joint ventures in secondary education in Friesland, the European Consortium for Arts Therapies in Education, Groningen University, Utrecht University and Tilburg University.


NHL Stenden University of Applied Sciences
Research group Care and Welfare
Postbus 1298
Rengerslaan 8-10
NL-8900 CG Leeuwarden, the Netherlands

Administrative Assistant in the Department of Social Work and Arts Therapies: Ms Trienke Wolters

T: +31 (0)6-53710217

Office Manager ESR/Academisation Office: Ms Sonja Schuil
T: +31 (0)6 19281329