Senior Lecturer, Art Therapy


Division: Occupational Therapy and Arts Therapies

Tel: 0131 474 0000

Dr Margaret Hills de Zárate (B.A (Fine Art), M.Ed., Ph.D.) is a Senior Lecturer in the Division of Occupational Therapy and Arts Therapies. She is also members of the Centre for Dialogue and Public Engagement (Full), the Institute for Global Health and Development (Affiliate) and the Centre for Applied Social Sciences (Full).

  • Overview
  • Research Interests
  • Research Publications
  • Teaching & Learning
  • Activities & Awards

Dr Margaret Hills de Zárate graduated in Fine Art from Grey’s School of Art and trained as an Art Therapist at Goldsmith’s College, University of London. Returning to Scotland, she worked as an art therapist for the Department of Social Work with marginalised populations and at Wellspring; a charitable trust, offering psychotherapy and counselling. From 1990-94 she trained in Human Relations and Counselling and Analytic Group Work at The Scottish Institute of Human Relations and completed a Master in Education at Edinburgh University funded by a Carnegie Scholarship. She later studied at the University of Havana, undertaking supervised postgraduate training in child and adolescent psychology and conducting fieldwork leading to the award of PhD. Between 2002-2007 she taught as a Visiting Lecturer on the Master in Art Therapy at the University of Barcelona during which she time she also worked in the Republic of Georgia with the Centre for the Psychosocial Rehabilitation of Victims of Torture and with a team of professionals in the refugee camp of Duisi and later with child ex-combatants in Colombia at the invitation of the Public Advocate of Bogotá. Her involvement in the art psychotherapy training in Scotland dates back to 1993 when she was appointed lecturer and Placement Co-ordinator at the newly established Art Therapy Training Programme then based at Edinburgh University Settlement. In 1997 she moved with the course team to Queen Margaret University where she held the role of Programme Leader of the MSc in Art Psychotherapy from 2006-16. As a Visiting Lecturer she has travelled and taught extensively in Germany, Lithuania, Slovenia, Ukraine, the Netherlands Spain, Kenya, Jamaica, Taiwan, United States, Argentina, Colombia, Mexico and Chile.     

Affiliations/Memberships) to Other Organisations:

  • BAAT (British Association of Art Therapists), HCPC (Health and Care Professions Council)

Professional Social Media:

Research/Knowledge Exchange Centre Membership:

Margaret’s research interests are in the area of visual and material culture. Her ongoing research into Italian migration and transgenerational identity in South America is part of a three-year project funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) focusing on Italian migration and the processes involved in the trangenerational mediation of Italian identity through material culture. Involving extensive participatory ethnography undertaken at four main sites; Buenos Aires (Argentina), Sao Paolo (Brazil), Valparaiso (Chile) and Salto (Uruguay) it addresses the role of translation conceived as relating to processes that are not exclusively inter-lingual (between languages) but also those processes that are intermedial (between media) or intercultural (between cultures) and encompasses issues such as the ‘untranslatable’, and the impact of what is transformed, gained or lost in the process of translation. This research extends to the study of intermedial processes in intercultural art psychotherapy. Previous research has involved Naturalistic Inquiry and fieldwork undertaken in Havana focussing on the variables at play in the evolution of Cuban art therapy and the development of psycho-social approaches and time-limited art therapy interventions with refugees.                                                             

Active Research Interests:

  • Intercultural research, Italian migration in South America, transgenerational identity, refugee studies, translation and intermediality in the visual arts, visual methodologies, material culture studies, mental health.

Research Methods:

  • Ethnography, Visual Research methodologies, phenomenological hermeneutics, narrative inquiry, grounded theory, naturalistic inquiry, participatory approaches including Photoshop and Participatory Action Research, archival research methods.



Please see my research publications in eResearch – Queen Margaret University’s repository

My main areas of teaching include research and research methodologies, visual arts practice and art therapy theory and skills. I currently supervise research at both Professional Doctorate and PhD level in the areas of child poverty in Scotland, cultural arts practices in Trinidad-Tobago, and volunteering and mental health.

Program leader - MSc Art Psychotherapy (International)-Programme Leader from 2006-2016


  • PM051 Research Methods
  • OM171 Practice Placement 1
  • OM172 Practice Placement 2
  • OM173 Art Psychotherapy Theory and Skills and Interpersonal Learning Groups
  • OM175 Clinical Project
  • OM163 Interdisciplinary Studies 1
  • OM165 Interdisciplinary Studies 2
2015 Santander Travel Scholarship