I had a specialist role created for me at the NHS, thanks to USW.
Kate Uzzell, MA Art Psychotherapy graduate, now works as a Specialist Mental Health Practitioner for the NHS, a role that was created especially for her.
"I was encouraged through my USW MA Art Psychotherapy final year clinical placement to apply for any relevant role that was advertised. I work three days a week for the NHS as a Specialist Mental Health Practitioner in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAHMS) and spend one day working on freelance projects, which are creative and not necessarily therapeutic. The remaining day is a ‘self-care’ day which has personal therapy in the morning and a life drawing class in the evening. Very occasionally, I work on a Saturday, when a freelance project requires it.
I feel fortunate that my NHS role sits within a team of five Arts Therapists. Half of my NHS caseload are Art Therapy referrals, whilst the other half are generic referrals and may involve using a variety of therapeutic approaches as part of the assessment or treatment. This role allows for working with children and parents/carers together, where appropriate. As part of a multidisciplinary team I am involved in discussing the different types of clinical input and perspectives that go into supporting a young person with, for example, complex mental health difficulties, attachment disorders and trauma history. I also work closely with schools, social care, addiction and youth offending services.
Keeping in touch with other Art Therapists, especially those who work in different settings, feels important to me as CAMHS can be a stressful place to work. Attending BAAT meetings, peer supervision or informal group meetings, as well as making time for my own art making, helps to keep me connected to my core identity as an Art Psychotherapist.
I am motivated by a belief that people can effect change in difficult parts of their lives with the right help at the right time. In addition, I am passionate about the profession of art therapy and evidencing its effectiveness across the broad scope of society. Another important motivation is to support myself financially and to feed my sense of professional fulfilment.
Studying MA Art Psychotherapy at USW gave me the skills, challenges and time I needed in order to believe that I can fulfil my potential. The part-time structure was helpful for me as I worked to support myself alongside studying. Also, taking three years to complete the course felt like the right amount of time - even though when I started it I felt that I would rather do it more quickly! I found course lecturers to be supportive of my learning and wellbeing and dynamic in their approach to the profession."