The Elephant in the Room Conversations about Alcohol

Poster for Elephant in the Room Workshop
Poster for Elephant in the Room Workshop

The first collaboration between Pharmacy and Art Departments at University of Reading. The workshop developed in response to the work of Dr Ranjita Dhital Lecturer in Pharmacy in collaboration with Dr Kate Allen Associate Professor in Art. The workshop was developed with students from Pharmacy Aliya Khan and from Art and Psychology Katinka Duewel and Gabija Mieliauskaite.

The workshop was developed with students from Pharmacy Aliya Khan and from Art and Psychology Katinka Duewel and Gabija Mieliauskaite.
Elephant in the Room workshop was developed with students from Pharmacy Aliya Khan and from Art and Psychology Katinka Duewel and Gabija Mieliauskaite.

Dr Ranjita Dhital presented a lecture on alcohol problems and alcohol brief interventions to MPharm Pharmacy Foundation and Art-Psychology students. The workshop was designed to develop students’ skills to discuss alcohol use in a motivating and empathetic way to reduce harm.

Dr Ranjita Dhital presenting her lecture Conversations About Alchohol Use
Dr Ranjita Dhital presenting her lecture Conversations About Alchohol Use

In a separate workshop students had the opportunity to role play a student who might be having a problem with drinking too much, role playing a friend using different styles of conversations to engage them ‘confrontational’ and ‘motivational’.

The students were invited to create small clay elephants while observing the ‘confrontational’ and ‘motivational’ style conversations about alcohol use – hence ‘the elephant in the room’.

Picture of Elephant in the Room workshop outline
Workshop Ouline

The idea of the observer creating a clay elephant behind their back in response to the style of conversational approach was an experiment where the observer is able to record their responses to the different conversations by heightening their sensory awareness manipulating the clay. Some made direct links, in the image below the student described making the elephant flattened in red clay due to the ‘Confrontational’ conversation they had observed while the ‘Motivational’ elephant is rising up.

Picture of clay elephants Flat Confrontational and Rising Motivational response
Flat Confrontational and Rising Motivational response

Some students created totally different creatures including a snail, others while initially suspicious of the inclusion of a creative element into their Pharmacy education, were carried away by the opportunity to build with the clay.

Most agreed the experience had created a lasting memory of the types of conversations that could be initiated.

The students were invited to gauge their confidence in discussing alcohol green at start and red after the workshop
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