Spheres of Wellbeing

The Spheres of Wellbeing are a set of artefacts specifically designed for a group of six women who live in the medium secure services of a forensic hospital in the UK.

These women present a very vulnerable group due to the severity of their mental health problems, extremely challenging behaviors and their motivational difficulties to engage in therapeutic treatment. The Spheres are designed to promote the mental wellbeing of the women and to help them in the learning and practice of vital skills of their specialist treatment Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT).

The Spheres of Wellbeing or Spheres constitute three artefacts: the Mindfulness Sphere, Calming Sphere and Identity Sphere.

The Mindfulness Sphere was conceived to cultivate awareness by externalizing an inner sensation of the body, the heartbeat, and how it unfolds moment by moment. This Sphere is designed to have the appearance of a crystal ball and is made from transparent resin. Small copper disks are safely attached to its left- and right-hand-sides that upon touch senses the person’s heartbeat and translates it into a visual representation through 6 multicolor LEDs that fade-in and fade-out with every heartbeat.

The Calming Sphere was purposely designed as a simple, non-digital bracelet that can be used as non-secular worry beads, which the women can hold on to and use for self-distraction when they feel nervous or anxious.

The Identity Sphere aims to strengthen the women’s sense of self by promoting a more positive self-perception and raising their self-esteem. The artefact takes the form of a leather purse that safely encases technology. This Sphere is activated by pressing the button at the top of the purse, which causes it to recognize QR codes that are embedded at the centre of Mandala images and trigger the playback of short personalized videos on the screen inside. The videos are co-created with each woman to reflect their individual interests and represent enjoyable and meaningful experiences,   as   well   as  to   reference  other people who are of personal significance to them.

While the design concepts had been primarily informed by hospital staff and the literature, the importance to also actively and sensitively involve the women into a co-design of their artefacts became very apparent. The design specifications of the Spheres therefore make the starting point in a creative process, whereby each woman contributes to a personalised design of her Spheres through a series of creative activities with the researcher.