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Penny Hallas

Head of Arts Therapies Service in Learning Disability Directorate and Artist, Aneurin Bevan University Health Board

Penny Hallas is an artist and art therapist: although these two activities are very different, they feed into one another and involve exploration of connected themes, issues and processes. As an art therapist she has worked in a range of health and education settings over the last 30 years, predominantly with people with learning disabilities. 

Penny currently leads the arts therapies services for adults with learning disabilities in Aneurin Bevan University Health Board, NHS Learning Disability Directorate, which provides art therapy, music therapy and dramatherapy across Gwent.

It’s Not All Fun: Synopsis

The project which placed digital technologies in the hands of people with learning disabilities to meet their emotional and mental health needs. Inspired by digital arts used in arts organisations, our project began with an aspiration to introduce new equipment like iPads and gesture-based technologies (GBT) into the arts therapies service and has lead to arts therapies leading on these being introduced across all professions and services in our Learning Disability Directorate. Consideration is given to the benefits of digital technologies to adults with a learning disability with particular focus on GBT. Project design, methodology and outcomes are described, with brief accounts of GBT used across the spectrum of arts engagement and art therapy.

Links to publications

Hallas, P. & Cleaves, L. ''It's Not All Fun': Introducing Digital Technology to Meet the Emotional and Mental Health Needs of Adults with Learning Disabilities' International Journal of Art Therapy (currently available via Taylor Francis online – will come out in next edition of journal) http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/17454832.2016.1260038

Elwell, G. & Hallas, P. (2016) 'M.E. time': meaningful engagement for people with a learning disability in secondary care. Learning Disability Practice, RCNi vol19.no.9, 35-37.