Sara Ascenso is a PhD candidate focusing on musicians' mental health. She is a chartered clinical psychologist (University of Lisbon) and holds a BMus in piano performance from the National Superior Orchestra Academy of the Metropolitan Orchestra of Lisbon, and an MSc in Performance Science from the RCM. Before starting her PhD research, Sara maintained regular professional activity as a psychologist both in clinical settings and within diverse educational projects and as a collaborative pianist and piano teacher.
Side-by-side with her PhD, Sara has been involved with other research projects looking into music for mental health (as a Research Associate at the Centre for Performance Science), the psychology of professional integration in music (with the Negaunee Music Institute - Chicago Symphony Orchestra) and the psychological impact of community music engagement (with London Music Masters). Sara received a Finzi Trust Award in 2015 with which she also developed research looking into music in prisons. She is currently a Learning Support Advisor at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance where she designs interventions aimed at optimizing musicians’ learning, in particular for musicians with specific learning needs. At the RCM, Sara lectures across several modules run by the Centre for Performance Science. She also lectures at King’s College London and at the University of Lisbon, where she leads one of the units of the Executive Masters in Applied Positive Psychology. Sara is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. Sara is currently on professional leave, supported by a grant from the Fundação para Ciência e Tecnologia (Portuguese Government) to finalise her doctoral research.
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Faculties / departments: Research
Ascenso, S. and Perkins, R. and Williamon, A. (2018) Resounding meaning: a PERMA wellbeing profile of classical musicians. Frontiers in Psychology, 9 (1895). pp. 1-14. ISSN 1664-1078
Ascenso, S. and Perkins, R. and Atkins, L. and Fancourt, D. and Williamon, A. (2018) Promoting well-being through group drumming with mental health service users and their carers. International Journal of Qualitative Studies on Health and Well-being, 13 (1). pp. 1-15. ISSN 1748-2631
Perkins, R. and Ascenso, S. and Atkins, L. and Fancourt, D. and Williamon, A. (2016) Making music for mental health: how group drumming mediates recovery. Psychology of Well-Being: Theory, Research and Practice, 6 (11). pp. 1-17.
Ascenso, S. and Williamon, A. and Perkins, R. (2016) Understanding the wellbeing of professional musicians through the lens of Positive Psychology. Psychology of Music, 45 (1). pp. 65-81. ISSN 0305-7356
Fancourt, D. and Perkins, R. and Ascenso, S. and Carvalho, L. A. and Steptoe, A. and Williamon, A. (2016) Effects of group drumming interventions on anxiety, depression, social resilience and inflammatory immune response among mental health service users. PLOS ONE, 11 (3). e0151136. ISSN 1932-6203
Fancourt, D. and Perkins, R. and Ascenso, S. and Atkins, L. and Kilfeather, S. and Carvalho, L. A. and Steptoe, A. and Williamon, A. (2015) Group drumming modulates cytokine response in mental health services users: a preliminary study. Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, 85 (1). pp. 53-55. ISSN 0033-3190
Ascenso, S. and Perkins, R. (2013) ‘The more the merrier’? Understanding the wellbeing of professional musicians in collaborative and solo work settings. In: International Symposium on Performance Science 2013, 23-31 August 2013, Austria.