Nicky  Morris Author of Evaluating Organization Development
FEATURED AUTHOR

Nicky Morris

Senior Mental Health Practitioner and Dramatherapist
NHS

I am an HCPC registered dramatherapist, with 15 years of clinical experience in both NHS and NHS England, mental health services. Routledge published my first clinical book in 2018, ‘Dramatherapy for Borderline Personality Disorder: Empowering and Nurturing people through Creativity’ and in 2020, Pavilion Publishing and Media published my second book, ‘Find Your Way: A Story and Drama Resource to Promote Mental Wellbeing in Young People’.

Biography

I am an HCPC registered dramatherapist, with 15 years of clinical experience in both NHS and NHS England, specialist mental health services. I remain passionate about my work and keen to contribute to the wider dramatherapy field, offering workshops and presentations at Conferences and Universities. I have had two clinical articles published in Dramatherapy (BADth’s Journal) and Routledge published my first clinical book in 2018, ‘Dramatherapy for Borderline Personality Disorder: Empowering and Nurturing people through Creativity’. In 2020, Pavilion Publishing and Media published my second book, ‘Find Your Way: A Story and Drama Resource to Promote Mental Wellbeing in Young People’. I maintain a love of learning and the desire to support people through carefully considered therapeutic interventions.

Areas of Research / Professional Expertise

    I have worked extensively with young women struggling to cope with painful memories of abuse, neglect or bullying, chaotic emotions, suicidal ideation, self-harm, EUPD/BPD, eating disorders, psychotic disorders, visual and auditory hallucinations, depression, anxiety, autistic spectrum disorder and learning difficulties. I have also worked with older adults experiencing both functional and organic mental health difficulties and more recently, I have returned to the NHS as a Senior Mental Health Practitioner in a Mental Health Support Team for SEN and SEMH schools across Hertfordshire.      

Personal Interests

    Aside from my professional life, I live with my husband and we have two teenaged daughters, a rescue dog and two rescue cats. I enjoy playing the piano, singing, writing songs and poetry and playing netball.

Websites

Books

Featured Title
 Featured Title - Dramatherapy for Borderline Personality Disorder - 1st Edition book cover

Articles

Dramatherapy,  Volume 36, 2014, Issue 1 (pages 3-17) Taylor & Francis online

Silenced in childhood: A survivor of abuse finds her voice through group Dramatherapy


Published: Jun 26, 2014 by Dramatherapy, Volume 36, 2014, Issue 1 (pages 3-17) Taylor & Francis online
Authors: Nicky Morris

Haunted by memories of sexual child abuse, Bella suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, depression and anxiety. Her diagnosis is Borderline Personality Disorder, with a long history of serious self-harm and hospitalisation. Her creative journey began on a secure ward for women with BPD, where she attended the weekly Dramatherapy Group for 7 months. Her creative therapy journey continued for a further 18 months at a secure step-down unit for women with complex mental health difficulties.

Dramatherapy,  Volume 33, 2011, Issue 3 (pages 144-157) Taylor & Francis online

Unspoken depths: dramatherapy and dementia A heuristic exploration of a dramatherapist's experience of working with a group of older adults with dementia


Published: Nov 14, 2011 by Dramatherapy, Volume 33, 2011, Issue 3 (pages 144-157) Taylor & Francis online
Authors: Nicky Morris
Subjects: Memory

In the dual role of therapist and researcher, working in an NHS Day Hospital with a group of clients with dementia, my question was simple, yet perplexing: What could I learn from the paradox between the joyful energy of my Dramatherapy group and the intense sadness and confusion that seemed to exist on the periphery? I followed the six stages of heuristic research described by Clark Moustakas and through the analysis of data, key themes arose: Fear and Stigma, Anger, and Self-Identity.

News

Independent Review: DRAMATHERAPY FOR BORDERLINE PERSONALITY DISORDER, NICKY MORRIS (2018)

By: Nicky Morris

Drama Therapy Review
Volume 6 Number 2 - dtr 6 (2) pp. 254–256 Intellect Limited 2020 - 254 Drama Therapy Review
© 2020 Intellect Ltd Book Review. https://doi.org/10.1386/dtr_00033_5

DRAMATHERAPY FOR BORDERLINE PERSONALITY DISORDER: EMPOWERING AND NURTURING PEOPLE THROUGH CREATIVITY, NICKY MORRIS (2018)
Oxford and New York: Routledge, 162 pp., ISBN 978-1-13828-591-0, p/bk, £27.99

Reviewed by Belinda Sherlock, Independent Scholar

Those of us working in inpatient mental health settings will likely be familiar with feelings of confusion, anger, shame or despair manifesting day to day. Holding onto hope is the key to our practice, but can feel difficult in the face of
the (often unprocessed) emotional and traumatic content that plays out both in our work and in the therapeutic, community and institutional dynamics of which we are part. On discovering Nicky Morris’ book, in which she explores creative ways to work with and broaden our perspectives around people diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD), I felt hopeful. The subtitle, Empowering and Nurturing People through Creativity, offered an immediate challenge to the stigma and sense of helplessness that is often attached to this diagnosis.

From the introduction, Morris addresses this challenge and stigma, highlighting the importance of compassion and positioning drama therapy as a medium capable of empowering clients to ‘explore their inner selves, express themselves freely and interact playfully – a process that enables positive transformation’ (3). Morris acknowledges the voices of other professionals and the clients themselves, and includes her own poetry and lyrics in her framing of this work. Her introduction sets the tone for the following chapters – a combination of academic analysis, survey research with other drama therapists supporting this population, inclusive discussion and creative exploration.

Morris helpfully divides her work into two key sections. Chapters 2–4 cover ‘[d]efinitions, history, theory and treatment options’. Morris guides the reader through the evolution of BPD as a diagnosis and considers a range of
lenses through which we might understand the disorder. Alongside current definitions, identified symptoms and co-morbidities, Morris paints a picture of how BPD sits within and impacts on the United Kingdom’s population and
mental health system.

Having drawn our attention to the importance of ‘consistent communication between all members of the [Multidisciplinary Team]’ when working with clients with BPD (29), Morris explores the array of current treatment options – all psychological and/or psychosocial. The importance of taking the time to co-create with the patient a personalized, combined approach to treatment is emphasized here. Morris then hones in on drama therapy as an effective intervention for this population. Following a brief developmental history of the medium, she introduces her particular approach and the role of drama therapist as ‘a guide, opening the door to a range of possibilities’ (59).

Having surveyed other drama therapists working with this client group, she draws on their approaches and
experiences to illustrate the medium’s diversity, flexibility and evidence-base, as well as touching on techniques for evaluating the work. She briefly explores the possibility of using drama therapy for men with BPD, acknowledging the prevalence of this diagnosis amongst male populations, particularly in forensic settings, although presentation, co-morbidities and actual diagnosis can differ. Current research shows men are more likely to be diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder.

Part 2 (Chapters 5–8) offers ‘[d]ramatherapy clinical case studies and vignettes’. Morris presents work she delivered with women in a secure BPD-specific ward and a secure step-down, mixed diagnosis unit, where her drama therapy is offered in conjunction with other interventions; for example, combined with DBT, drama therapy ensures ‘a creative balance to this cognitive, behavioural approach, nurturing the inner child, rather than focusing solely on the adult self’ (76). For both settings, Morris’ vignettes and case studies elicit a more visceral sense of the creative healing journey, whilst openly acknowledging moments of pain and difficulty. Most intriguing was her use
of therapeutic performance on the step-down unit, including the creation of a singing group with subsequent CD recording.

Her analysis also explores the overlap with other treatments her clients are receiving. The clients’ perspectives and those of her multidisciplinary colleagues remind us of the importance of collaboration and co-production. Particularly
moving was the perspective of a mental health nurse, who reported ‘I thought it was just a light, fun group. Quickly I discovered the therapeutic process and just how important this expression of conscious and unconscious emotions is’ (109). Morris pulls out recurring themes emerging for her clients – including ‘to be seen and heard as a human being rather than a diagnosis’ – and details some of her key interventions.

Chapter 7, ‘Dancing between life and death’, explores BPD’s relationship to loss, grief, self-harm and suicide. Particularly impactful are Morris’ accounts of work with clients before they take their own lives, and how she supports other staff and service users to process this loss. Here, too, Morris draws on the voices of her colleagues and other drama therapists surveyed, highlighting the roles of strong teamworking and regular clinical supervision in holding this level of shadow. Through her incorporation of Thich Nhat Hanh’s teachings, she also turns our attention to the importance of cultivating our own personal resources when delivering such challenging work.

Morris pulls few punches when it comes to describing the more painful, frustrating and devastating aspects of working with this client group in inpatient settings. She demonstrates awareness of drama therapy’s limitations
and reveals her own decision-making processes in the face of challenges. She allows the clients to voice fear and doubt alongside hope: ‘It was scary, actively expressing my feelings, but helped reduce the intensity of those [suicidal] thoughts, only briefly, but any respite from these thoughts was a welcome breathing space’ (110, client’s words). Morris’ honesty offers me as a fellow drama therapist some sense of relief and relatability.

Dramatherapy for Borderline Personality Disorder will prove a useful and nourishing resource for drama therapists and other professionals working with this client group. Morris manages to combine an academic, evidence based
approach with her own creative voice in a way that is likely to appeal to minds across the scientific/artistic spectrum. I particularly enjoy the inclusion of her own and her clients’ poetry and artwork as a regular reminder that,
within the structures and systems of our mental health services, we are dealing with vitality, creativity and humanity. Morris ends the book on a hopeful note, bringing our attention back to the importance of holding ‘hope, courage
and creativity’ for our clients: ‘if [the therapist] can sustain their belief that healing and change are genuinely possible, the client is then given the opportunity to believe it too’ (150).

Dramatherapy for Borderline Personality Disorder naturally has its limitations. Given Morris’ experience working with women in inpatient settings, she is unable to offer the same in-depth exploration into men and non-binary people with BPD, outpatient settings or those outside of the mental health system. Including the experiences and approaches of other drama therapists adds some welcome diversity; however, the inclusion of more of the survey
data would have strengthened the breadth and depth of this text.

Furthermore, ‘letting go’ and self-care are areas that could have been further explored, given the challenging nature of the work. I remain curious about how drama therapists answered this survey prompt: ‘Reflect on […] how easy or difficult you find it to “let go” at the end of the working day’ (60). Similarly, team ‘splitting’ and other complex dynamics are briefly touched on, but could have been discussed in more depth, particularly from Morris’ unique perspective as a drama therapist in teams that appear, on the whole, supportive of her work. She mentions that, ‘[t]he challenge for the dramatherapists working in these settings may then be to adapt the way we communicate with other professionals, without losing their integrity’ (47). It would have been relishing to read Morris’ reflections on how she approaches this.

Nevertheless, the heartbeat of this book is Morris’ compassion for this client group and those involved in their care; reading her book helps us to ‘[remember] the human beings at the heart of the matter’ (11). Morris’ book is recommended as essential drama therapy reading and should be recommended also to our psychology, therapy and medical colleagues as a refreshingexploration of BPD.

REFERENCES
Hanh, T. N. (2012), Fear: Essential Wisdom for Getting through the Storm, Kindle ed., London: Ebury Digital.
Morris, N. (2018), Dramatherapy for Borderline Personality Disorder: Empowering and Nurturing People through Creativity, Oxford and New York, Routledge.

CONTRIBUTOR DETAILS
Belinda Sherlock is a drama therapist, creative facilitator and performer based in the United Kingdom. She has worked in forensic mental health (NHS) for the last five years, alongside her freelance practice with adults and children who have experienced trauma. For more on her work, visit www.playfulwellbeing.com.

E-mail: [email protected]
https://orcid.org/0000-0002-7793-0981

Find Your Way - A New Book by Nicky Morris

By: Nicky Morris

‘Find Your Way’ a new book by Dramatherapist Nicky Morris

Nicky Morris, a Dramatherapist at Cygnet Hospital Ealing and Cygnet Lodge Kenton is shortly to have her second book published. Called ‘Find Your Way – A Story and Drama Resource to Promote Mental Wellbeing in Young People’ the book features ten original stories, illustrations, mini-scripts and creative activities, focused on promoting mental well-being in adolescents and young adults.

Nicky is an experienced and HCPC registered dramatherapist. She joined Cygnet Health Care in 2006 providing music-based dramatherapy to women with personality disorders. She is also the author of ‘Dramatherapy for Borderline Personality Disorder’ (Routledge, 2018), which was included on Book Authority’s list of the best personality disorder books of all time.

Nicky developed her latest book whilst working with the service users at Cygnet Hospital Ealing and Cygnet Lodge Kenton. Session vignettes are included in the book, as examples of how the stories, scripts and activities can be used. The book contains contributions from past and present service users at Cygnet Hospital Ealing in the form of two illustrations (below) and one poem which is included as an appendix. All three will receive a free copy of the book in recognition of their contributions.

“This new resource will be a great addition for therapists, teachers and anyone who is interested in working creatively, to promote mental well-being.”Nicky Morris, Author

The book is due to be published later this month by Pavilion Publishing and Media and is currently available to pre-order via the link below. A special 20% discount code Find20 is valid until June 15th 2020.

https://www.pavpub.com/mental-health/find-your-way

Well done Nicky, we wish you all the best with the new book.

Free Preview of Find Your Way with 5* reviews

By: Nicky Morris

No alt text provided for this image

5 global ratings | 5 global reviews - From United Kingdom:

Richard Lafford - 5.0 out of 5 stars - A timely book for our uncertain age. May it find its way to those who work to improve mental health (Reviewed in the UK on 27 August 2020)

"A unique resource which recognises the need for the many and varied individuals who work directly or indirectly to improve mental well-being, to be involved and guided by the Dramatherapy process.

Nicky has created ten fabulous stories which are open-ended - allowing the individual or group to create their own endings. She has described the Dramatherapy approach in relation to each story and advises on how each story could be used to address various themes through dramatic improvisation, tableaus, play script, artwork and creative writing. Vignettes have been given for each story to illustrate how groups might respond in practice."

Ell M - 5.0 out of 5 stars - Accessible & empowering (Reviewed in the UK on 08.10.20)

"I have used the stories from Find Your Way to explore difficult feelings and experiences with both adults and young children, and for myself. The stories allow exploration to a number of levels, with questions which help us to work with the themes which are explored in a really empowering way.

This resource could be used in many settings such as community and inpatient mental health, or education.

I really recommend using this book and the stories and methods used with people struggling to process trauma, to empower individuals and encourage recovery."

Amazon Customer - 5.0 out of 5 stars -  This book engages reluctant readers. The stories are short , well written and easy to understand (Reviewed in the UK on 5 October 2020)

"I used this book with year 7 students at my school and they genuinely found this really accessible and enjoyable. They particularly enjoyed the open endings and the activities inside the book gave the students the opportunity to explore choices and make decisions on behalf of the characters in the stories. We bought several of these for the English department to use. The stories are all engaging and really relevant to the confusing world of today. Despite being a little bit expensive, the book was a great hit and good value for money as it got the boys reading and discussing."

Catherine McCormack - 5.0 out of 5 stars - Essential Book (Reviewed in the UK on 30 October 2020)

"Throughout my quarter of a century of practice as a Dramatherapist this is the first book I have come across that contains original stories and a myriad of explanations of how to work with them; whether it be through drama, creative writing or script work to name some. The stories are beautifully moving and detailed and full of symbolism and choices to be explored. The book will be invaluable to teachers, therapists and anyone working with someone for whom finding their way is paramount.

Kate McCormack, Senior Dramatherapist, The Bethlem Royal Hospital"

Amazon Customer - 5.0 out of 5 stars -  An original and inspiring teaching resource (Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 4 October 2020)

"I highly recommend this to anyone teaching in a secondary school. It is particularly useful at the moment as students need a creative outlet to enable them to deal with the mixture of emotions they may be experiencing. It is easy to navigate and offers numerous practical ways to engage students through creative writing and drama."

Videos

Find Your Way: Short Stories to Promote Mental Wellbeing

Published: Nov 30, 2020

1 minute video showcasing the illustrations and a summaries of the 10 stories in my new book 'Find Your Way: A Story and Drama Resource to Promote Mental Wellbeing in Young People' (Pavilion Publishing and Media). https://www.pavpub.com/mental-health/find-your-way