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Type: Theses
Title: Exploring psychological wellbeing in actors: a qualitative study of professionals and students
Author: Robb, Alison Elizabeth
Issue Date: 2018
School/Discipline: School of Psychology
Abstract: This thesis investigates the psychological wellbeing (PWB) of professional and student actors in Australia. The research comprised 35 in-depth interviews and used thematic analysis and qualitative content analysis to analyse the data. Various checks of methodological rigour were used throughout. The findings are presented in four related papers investigating, respectively: a) how student and professional actors define PWB, b) what factors underpin and impact the PWB of professional actors, c) what factors underpin and impact the PWB of student actors and d) what support student and professional actors need to maintain and/or enhance their PWB. In Paper 1, results presented include the difficulty of defining PWB, the importance of self-awareness, self-regard and accepting and navigating one’s internal world, PWB as an activity and coping strategies. Findings suggested that participants’ definition of PWB was grounded in their identity as actors. Implications for care included being alert for help-seeking difficulties, along with ensuring actors have appropriate tools for managing PWB. In Paper 2, two categories were established pertaining to professional actors’ PWB: environmental and personal factors. Environmental factors concerned the use of power in the acting industry, precarious lifestyle, uniqueness, engagement, complex relationships and self-care. Personal factors were drive, strengths, viewing acting as a calling, a precarious internal world and self-reflection. Key findings suggested actors experience a range of threats to PWB, as well as experiences which facilitate it. There were clinical implications suggesting actors are vulnerable to depression, generalised anxiety symptoms, vicarious trauma and perfectionism. Paper 3 explored PWB in student actors. Findings clustered into three domains: the conservatoire (environmental/cultural factors), acting training (process factors) and student qualities (individual factors). Influences on students’ PWB were complex personal relationships, workload, uncertainty, perfectionism, strengths, mental health difficulties, identity de-stabilisation, growth and feeling exposed. Practical implications included building mental health literacy, increasing students’ feelings of competence, fostering the ability to tolerate stress and uncertainty and employing a specialist clinician within the conservatoire. Paper 4 explored what support student and professional actors need to maintain and/or enhance PWB. Key recommendations for students included mental health resources, an embedded clinician, alterations to the course structure, examining the role of staff, connecting with the wider community, broadening students’ identities, creating a professional network and practical resources. In the professional cohort, areas of support included practical resources, connectedness, changing the social perception of actors, life outside acting and industry functioning. The key finding across both cohorts was the need for multi-level, contextually sensitive support for actors across their careers. The thesis concludes with a discussion comprising, firstly, an overview of findings and the contribution of the research to the broader literature and to knowledge about professional and student actors’ PWB. Clinical implications of the findings are discussed, including a clinician’s guide to areas of concern developed from the research. Service delivery for actors, including non- traditional models of care, is explored and the limitations of the research are highlighted. Areas for future endeavour are noted throughout and the chapter concludes with some final thoughts on working with actors to maintain and enhance PWB in light of broader issues facing the acting industry in Australia.
Advisor: Due, Clemence
Nettelbeck, Theodore John
Dissertation Note: Thesis (Ph.D.) (Research by Publication) -- University of Adelaide, School of Psychology, 2018.
Keywords: actors
mental health
performing arts
Research by Publication
Provenance: This electronic version is made publicly available by the University of Adelaide in accordance with its open access policy for student theses. Copyright in this thesis remains with the author. This thesis may incorporate third party material which has been used by the author pursuant to Fair Dealing exceptions. If you are the owner of any included third party copyright material you wish to be removed from this electronic version, please complete the take down form located at:
DOI: 10.25909/5ba1acea145f2
Appears in Collections:Research Theses

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