Jess Domin, from Bath, is in the final year of the BA (Hons) Creative and Therapeutic Arts degree.
"Creative and Therapeutic Arts is about using the arts to help people communicate, explore different issues and encourage wellbeing and relaxation. The course is unique and varied. You develop your own arts practice, so you spend a lot of time working with the aspects of art that you are most drawn to, the materials you like and the concepts you would like to explore.
You spend a lot of time investigating who you would like to work with, because you have the option to specialise. When you start the course, you don't always know who you would like to work with, and it's your own independent research that guides this - along with the work placements. You also learn about various therapeutic principles, which is where psychology plays a role.
The facilities here are great. You have your own technician who you can talk to about ideas, what you want to create, what materials to use and how you want to use those materials. The library on campus is a good size and you can hire video cameras and other technical equipment too.
We do a 16-week placement; you do two sessions per week, so 32 sessions over the period. There’s a large part of the year where you are on placement every week.
My placement is in Newport at the Gwent Drug and Alcohol Service, working with substance misusers. I have a particular interest in this area having worked with this group during my foundation degree.
The sessions are varied and I always use my practice to explore lots of different areas and topics. Some people have something that they always do at sessions, such as painting, but my practice is more flexible. It also depends on what the participant would like to explore. If somebody wants to work with a certain material, I’ll incorporate that - it means that the session is more collaborative or led by them.
Each class is well structured. You’ve got to do a session plan, where you plan everything, but also plan for change, too! I always plan to be flexible. If somebody really doesn’t want to do something or it goes in a different direction, it means I can allow for that.
In my own practice, I’m more interested in arts and crafts, than fine art. Arts and crafts involves making things, such as pottery. At the moment, I’m creating stained glass projections, using glass paint, Perspex sheets and lighting, recording the different combinations using a video camera.
There aren't huge numbers of people on my course, which is good. We have all studied or practised art before, but come from different backgrounds. A few people on the course have worked with children who have learning difficulties, one has worked in a school.
For me, one of the big attractions of coming to USW was that I could progress from the BA to the MA Art Psychotherapy without changing university. Eventually, I would eventually like to work as an arts therapist."