Exploring Psychological wellbeing in a Sample of Australian Actors

Alison E. Robb, Clemence Due, Anthony Venning

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: The objective of the current study was to explore what factors might impact the psychological wellbeing of adult, Australian professional actors. 

Method: Twenty South Australian actors were recruited using purposive and snowball sampling. Ten were male and 10 female, ranging in age from 22 to 66 years old, with self-reported professional experience ranging from 1 to 50 years. The participants were interviewed in-depth about their experiences of being an actor, with a particular focus on wellbeing, and the data were analysed using thematic analysis, with numerous checks in place for methodological rigour. Results: Two broad categories of themes were established; environmental and personal factors. Environmental factors included power, lifestyle, fringe-dwelling, engagement, the tribe, and taking care of yourself. Personal factors included pursuit, strengths, the calling, precariousness and looking within. 

Conclusions: Themes were considered in terms of contemporary wellbeing theory, along with clinical implications relating to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition (DSM5). Findings included: actors experience a range of threats to wellbeing, such as problems with autonomy, lack of environmental mastery, complex interpersonal relationships and high self-criticism. Factors facilitating wellbeing include ongoing personal growth and a sense of purpose. The findings also suggest that actors are vulnerable to depression, generalised anxiety symptoms, vicarious trauma, and perfectionism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)77-86
Number of pages10
JournalAustralian Psychologist
Issue number1
Early online date2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • actors
  • mental health
  • performing arts
  • qualitative
  • wellbeing


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