‘We’re all on the path ourselves’: The ‘reflective practitioner’ in participatory arts with older people | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 6, Issue 2-3
  • ISSN: 1757-1936
  • E-ISSN: 1757-1944



This article explores the role of the ‘reflective practitioner’ in participatory arts projects with older people, as articulated by creative practitioners themselves. Research into participatory arts activity with older people, which focuses on the process rather than the outcome of such activity remains sparse, as does scholarship that engages closely with artist-practitioners themselves as a rich source of knowledge and insight in this field. Supported by theory concerning the development and utility of reflective praxis, the article foregrounds the perspectives of a range of experienced artist-practitioners, as obtained through interviews and the findings of a ‘reflective learning group’ practitioner CPD programme. Research found that the creative practitioners consulted had developed a range of diverse reflective practices in order to engage and nurture the older participants they worked with, including: highly flexible and dialogic approaches; seeking ‘kinaesthetic empathy’ with participants; applying a form of ‘micro-responsiveness’ to participants; and fostering strong reflective practices among participants themselves. These findings hold important implications as to how we understand the processes by which practitioners enhance participant experience in the participatory arts, how creative practitioners are best supported in their work, and for the design, management and evaluation of participatory arts projects.


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