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DPhil student Briana Applewhite recounts her experience attending and speaking at the 13th Oxford Neuroscience Symposium.

Briana Applewhite speaking at the Oxford Neuroscience Symposium © Department of Psychiatry

Briana Applewhite My name is Briana Applewhite and I am a 2nd year DPhil student in the Department of Psychiatry. My work focuses on the usage of creative arts therapies for the alleviation of symptoms related to common mental disorders, more specifically trauma disorders like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Additionally, I’m investigating if creative arts methods can be used as potentially culturally competent therapeutic solutions for Black British youth. My work is funded by NIHR ARC Oxford and Thames Valley.

I recently had the pleasure of presenting a rapid fire talk at the Neuroscience Symposium where I gave an overview of the studies encompassing my DPhil. In under three minutes, I took the audience through an exploration of my recently completed meta-analysis where I uncovered the positive effects that creative arts methods had on the alleviation of trauma and PTSD symptoms in children and adolescents, and then through my second study which is a series of focus groups with Black British youth enrolled in NHS mental health services exploring the thoughts and attitudes of these individuals surrounding the use of creative arts methods as effective and potentially culturally competent therapeutic solutions. Finally, I previewed my final project of my DPhil which will be culmination of the insights gathered from my first two pieces of work where I will pilot a 12-week music intervention with Black British youth exploring the psychological outcomes music can have on symptoms of trauma and PTSD.

The questions asked reflected the optimism that my research can have in psychiatry.

It was difficult (to say the least) to voice all of the above in a three-minute talk but I welcomed the challenge! After a few run throughs of my slides and a copious number of deep breaths, I was ready to take the stage. And just as quickly as it began…it ended! Despite the brevity, it was great to hear the positive response from the audience surrounding my project and the questions asked from the audience reflected the optimism that my research can have in the field of psychiatry. 

One of the things I loved most about the symposium it that it drew quite the crowd, and it was great to see the variety of topics that were selected for both talks and poster presentations. The organisers did a wonderful job of displaying the breadth of research from the University from such a wide range of disciplines. It sparked quite a few ideas of my own in terms of future collaborations with some of the presenters.

Something positive that I’ll take away from the experience is that sometimes it is ok to keep things short and sweet; a lot can be highlighted in three minutes (or less)!

Briana's new paper, with Brennan Delattre, on social dance and movement for mental health is published in the journal Mental Health Science.