Personal profile

Research interests

Mental health and wellbeing for students and staf in higher education.



Beyond mindfulness to embodied mindfulness.

Wellbeing and its promotion through psychotherapeutic informed interventions with patients with medically unexplained symptoms.

Embodied learning to self-manage through The BodyMind Approach for adults with medically unexplaied symptoms.

Enactive, embodied approaches with a variety of client populations such as young offenders, children with autistic spectrum disorders, those with learning differences, somatisation, trauma, adults and young people with depression, anxiety and eating disorders.

Embodied leadership. Embodied learning. Transformational learning.

Group work for teachers and therapists.

Arts therapies, counselling and psychotherapy research.

Authentic Movement and therapeutic presence.

Groupwork and experiential learning research. Insecure attachment and somatisation. Mental health and the student population in higher education.

Perceptions of change/personal/professional development. 

Qualitative and mixed methodologies. Arts based inquiry.


Professor Dr Helen Payne, PhD (London) is based at the University of Hertfordshire where she supervises a number of PhD candidates, teaches on doctoral, MA and Continuing Professional Development programmes in health, wellbeing and education. Since 1990 she has been accredited as a United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy psychotherapist and is a Fellow of, and Senior Registered dance movement psychotherapist with the Association for Dance Movement Psychotherapy/DMP. She is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, supervises and examines doctoral candidates internationally.

Beginning as a specialist physical educationalist in secondary and movement therapist in special schools/hospitals, subsequently she lectured in higher education on BA Dance Studies and BEd secondary school PE specialist programmes. For three decades she has pioneered the development of embodied, dynamic psychotherapy, specifically DMP, starting the professional association, first training, research and publications. Practice-based research has been with children/adolescents with special educational needs, particularly communication disorders such as ASD and with young offenders. Other research has been concerned with the impact of personal development groups on practice for post graduate trainees in the psychological therapies, and embodied practice with patients with medically unexplained symptoms in primary care. She has a number of publications including Creative Movement and Dance in Groupwork for Therapists and Teachers; A Handbook of Inquiry in the Arts Therapies; DMT: Theory and Practice; DMT: Theory Research and Practice; Supervision; Essentials in Dance Movement Psychotherapy (see links on images below) and the Routledge International Handbook on Embodied Approaches to Psychotherapy (forthcoming). She has managed funded and non-funded research projects using mixed and qualitative methodologies. She is founding editor-in-chief for the international, peer reviewed journal Body, Movement and Dance in Psychotherapy published by Taylor and Francis. Her clinical work has influenced her models in embodied approaches to mental health and wellbeing, also informed by her extensive research. She has a private practice with groups and individuals. More recently she has founded the unique BodyMind Approach to supporting people with medically unexplained symptoms to learn how to self-manage their conditions and led the transfer of her research into the NHS, see BBC film 15 minutes:

And a TEDx talk at The University of Hertfordshire 15 minutes



Embodiment conference recording

Current research activity includes mental health and wellbeing and student experience, embodied leadership and adult education such as the impact on practice of training of facilitators in The BodyMind Approach for supporting people with medically unexplained symptoms. She sits on the National Task Force for Medically Unexplained Symptoms.


Successful PhD supervisions:

2017 Second supervisor, DClinPsy. UH, ‘Personal Constructs of Body-Mind Identity in Persons Who Experience Medically Unexplained Symptoms (MUS)’

2017 Principal Supervisor, EdD, UH,successfully completed ‘Comparing group processes between an intensive verbal personal development group and an intensive dance movement personal development group’

2016 Principal Supervisor, PhD, UH, successfully completed ‘Culturally related depression in Taiwanese women and the application of The BodyMind Approach’

2015 Principal Supervisor, PhD, UH, successfully completed - no amendments ‘Inside the Mirror: effects of attuned dance-movement intervention on interpersonal engagement as observed in changes of movement patterns in children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorder’

2014 Principal Supervisor PhD, UH, successfully completedPerceptions of causes and long term effects of academic underachievement in high IQ adults’.

2013 Second Supervisor EdD, UH, ‘Influences on beginning teacher construing: beliefs, stories and trajectories’.

2011 Principal Supervisor, PhD, UH, successfully completed ‘Psychodynamic informed bereavement support for staff working with intellectually disabled adults’.

2011 ExternalAcademic Consultant, PhD Psychotherapy by Professional Studies University of Middlesex/Metanoia successfully completed ‘Experiences of the use of clay in therapy: Towards a formulation of a theoretical anchoring’

2010 Principal Supervisor,PhD, UH, successfully completed ‘New ways to communicate the embodied experience’

2008 Principal Supervisor PhD, UH, successfully completed- no amendments ‘Beauty and the beast: clients’ experience of counselling within a narrative framework, considering concepts of containment and freedom’

2007  External Supervisor,PhD successfully completed, De Montfort University, ‘Dance Movement Therapy with refugee children in Bosnia’ (an ethnographic study).

2006 External Consultant, PhD, University of Limerick, Ireland ‘Dance and children with physical disability’.

2004  Principal Supervisor for first PhDsuccessfully completed in School of Social, Community, Counselling and Health Studies, UH, ‘Dance Movement Therapy with dance students in HE’.


Click on image for link to book.














Teaching specialisms

Mental health and students in higher education; staff support for student mental wellbeing in higher education; Medically unexplained symptoms (MUS) in adults in primary care; the relationship between trauma, attachment style and MUS; the role of the embodied unconscious in the treatment of MUS; emotional development in children and adults; promotion of wellbeing; psychotherapy; personal and professional development through symbolic and enactive, embodied approaches; the psychological therapies; arts therapies; authentic movement; clinical supervision; qualitative research methodology; project management; ethical practice; medically unexplained symptoms; infant, child and adolescent development; attachment theory and somatisation; reflective practice; research tools; the embodied self. 

Education/Academic qualification

Embodied psychotherapy, PhD, The student experience of personal development groups on a post graduate arts therapies training, Institute of Education, University of London

Award Date: 19 Dec 2025

Embodied psychotherapy; young male offenders, MPhil, The perceptions of male adolescents towards a programme of movement therapy, The University of Manchester

Award Date: 19 Apr 2025

counselling; special education, post graduate diploma, Institute of Continuing Education

1980 → …

Award Date: 8 Sept 1982

Laban analysis; creative movement; special needs, Laban Centre Diploma, Movement therapy with emotionally behaviourally disturbed children in special education, Goldsmiths College

1978 → …

Award Date: 12 Jul 1979

education; secondary; phys ed/dance, Cert Ed, The University of Sheffield

1970 → …

Award Date: 7 Jul 1973

External positions

external doctoral examiner, Liverpool John Moores University

2016 → …

external doctoral examiner, Regents University

2014 → …

external doctoral examiner, VU University Amsterdam

2011 → …

external doctoral examiner, The Manchester Metropolitan University

2009 → …

external doctoral examiner, Roehampton University

2006 → …

external doctoral examiner, Middlesex University


external doctoral examiner, University of Limerick

2002 → …


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