MA Art Psychotherapy student, Lizzie Wilson, now works as an art psychotherapist in a school and talks about her experiences searching for a career after graduating.
"I was thrilled to find two jobs within a month of graduating from the USW MA Art Psychotherapy course. When writing the applications, I drew on my experiences from the course, both at the university and on placement, as well as my previous work as a special needs teacher. Given my employment background, I focussed mainly on jobs within the education sector, searching broadly for art therapy jobs as well as more generic counselling and psychotherapy roles. My primary role was advertised as a post for a ‘child and adolescent psychotherapist’ whereas my second job was specifically advertised as an art therapy role.
I am working one day a week employed as an art therapist at a special needs school for young people on the autistic spectrum with complex needs. This role involves me seeing six young people a day for 30 minute sessions. Even though the school employs music, drama and art therapists, I am the only arts therapist who works there on the day I am in. I work in the therapies team alongside speech and language and occupational therapists. The other four days a week I am employed as an art psychotherapist for an organisation that runs SEMH (Social, Emotional, and Mental Health) schools and residential homes for looked after children. In this role I work 1:1 with young people and will potentially be running groups in the future. As well as this, I work more broadly as a member of the clinical team, delivering reflective practice sessions to staff groups, facilitating TACs (Team around the Child meetings), undertaking assessments and writing reports when new children enter the service and delivering training to staff groups. I am fortunate in this role to work with another art psychotherapist.
Having found out about art psychotherapy in my late teens, to finally be qualified and working as an art psychotherapist is exciting! I have always wanted a career where I am making a difference to the lives of others, and what I enjoyed about the art psychotherapy training was that whilst working towards this as a career aim I was also learning about myself. The opportunity for experiential art making has not only helped me to grow and develop as an individual but has also influenced my practice as an artist. I feel that the university elements of the course alongside placements have given me a solid grounding in art psychotherapy and I am looking forward to continuing my learning in order to develop my art psychotherapy practice in both my roles."