Arts Therapy Team
Music Therapy and Art Psychotherapy
Mandy (Art Therapist) 10 O levels, 3 A levels, BSc Rural Environmental Studies, Foundation in Art Therapy, Postgraduate Diploma in Art Psychotherapy at Goldsmiths .
(My route to Art therapy is not typical, most people have an Art Degree first.)
Cat ( Music Therapist) 11 GCSE’s, 3 A Levels, BA (hons) Degree in Music from Southampton University, MA Music Therapy from Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge.
Richard (Art Therapist & manager) 9 O levels, Foundation in Arts, BA(Hons) Fine Art. MA Art Psychotherapy, Goldsmiths University, London
Claire ( Art Psychotherapist) GCSE Art A, Sculpture A, English B, Maths B, Sociology C, French C, Religious Studies C, Art and Design BTEC (Merit), Art Psychotherapy MA Masters (Merit)
Mandy (Art Therapist) Postgraduate Diploma (Masters equivalent) in Art Psychotherapy
Cat ( Music Therapist) MA Music Therapy from Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge.
Richard (Art Therapist & manager) BA(Hons) Fine Art. MA Art Psychotherapy, Goldsmiths University, London
Claire ( Art Psychotherapist) Art and Design BTEC, Art Psychotherapy MA Masters
Cat (Music Therapist) I did as much volunteering and gaining experience of care work as I could. So, more work experience at the special school, 4 months working in a care home for disabled children in India in my gap year before uni. Care agency work as a healthcare assistant in my university holidays with children and adults with learning disabilities, at care homes for the elderly, working at the reception at a drug rehabilitation clinic etc. I also did some administration temping jobs inbetween the care work.
After university I applied to train as a music therapist but the courses available praised my eagerness but told me to go and get some ‘life experience’! I then moved to London and worked for the Performing Right Society (music copyright) for a couple of years before reapplying, and completing my training as a music therapist. I have since worked for Parity for Disability ( charity supporting children and adults with profound and multiple learning disabilities ), Royal Hospital for Neurodisability ( neuro-rehabilitation), Norwood ( Charity for adults with learning disabilities – I still work here 2 days a week), and CNWL NHS Trust (another mental health trust where I work 1 day a week in rehabilitation).
Claire ( Art Psychotherapist) Airline industry 1989 -1997, Special Needs/Teaching Assistant (Primary School) 2003-2009, Art Psychotherapist 2010-current
Mandy (Art Therapist) I worked for about 10 years in educational publishing then made a career change – I did volunrarty work with Art therapists to make sure it was the right thing, did my clinical experience at a Therapeutic community for people with personality disorders then various Art therapy jobs with inpatients and people in the community. I mainly worked with adults in the NHS but did some work with children who were in the care system who were traumatised by abuse, and at a special school.
Arts Therapies department
Cat ( Music Therapist) Working Age Adults – people living in the community come to the music therapy studio based at hospital premises. I also offer music therapy on the acute wards, so work at the acute hospital in the therapies department. My admin work is completed in the office near the music therapy studio. I work mainly autonomously so only see the whole of our team at away days and the trust Arts Therapies meetings. I see Richard and Claire at referral and business meetings
NHS Health Career Role:
Art Psychotherapists use art (in all its forms) and psychotherapy (the unconscious mind) to help people to understand the way they think and feel. We are interested in art as an unconscious communication tool.
Have you ever heard the saying ‘A picture says a thousand words?’ Well it is true. Sometimes art can say so much more than just words.
Have you heard of the famous painting called ‘The Scream’ by an artist called ‘Munch?’ Well, If you have time, I suggest you look him up and try and imagine how the person he paints in the portrait might be feeling. Perhaps he was expressing how he was feeling at the time?
You don’t have to be a good artist to express your feelings. Anyone can do art therapy. Some people make abstract art to communicate how they feel. Think how a single colour can express a feeling.
We have made videos of service users’ experiences of Art therapy which can be seen in the “gallery” on the Surrey and Borders Partnership nhs Trust website.
About the Team Members:
Mandy ( Art Therapist) I am an Art Therapist. I work mainly in the community with adults with a variety of severe / complex mental health issues, including schizophrenia, psychosis, bipolar, personality disorder. Many people have experienced trauma of some sort and may experience dissociation. Some people are on the Autistic spectrum which gives more challenges for them to overcome.
Cat ( Music Therapist) Hi, I’m a Music Therapist working with this team for 16 hours a week. I offer groups and individual therapy with people struggling with complex mental health conditions living in the community. I also run a group and see individuals on an inpatient acute ward.
Richard (Art Therapist & Manager) Like Cat and Mandy I see service users generally in 1;1 sessions although we are looking to run more groups. Less than half my time is spent doing clinical work, the 1;1 sessions, the remaining time I manage the service.
Claire (Art Psychotherapist) Hi, I am Claire and I am an Art Psychotherapist.
What we do:
Mandy ( Art Therapist) I Mainly I work 1:1 with people, but sometimes I run groups. typically people come for 20 hour- long weekly sessions. We plan aims for the therapy so it is clear what we want to focus on. there is a range of art materials in the room and usually people decide what they want to draw/ paint, occasionally I might suggest a theme. I also help people understand more about their mental health issues and give practical advice if they need it, e.g. “grounding” skills.
We sometimes think about past events and how they have affected someone, but do not always revisit past traumatic events, instead focus on how to cope with feelings here and now, and get confidence back after an episode of being unwell.
For Art therapy people do not have to be “good at” art but can find it helpful to start to think about issues. The art provides a visual record of the therapy.
Cat ( Music Therapist) People usually come to music therapy if they find it hard to express themselves using words alone. Improvised music is used to explore self-expression, communication, interaction and self-reflection. The active nature of making music supports people to connect with their self-expression and experience being in the ‘here and now’. For people who have experienced trauma, and/or experience Psychosis, live music making can help people feel heard and grounded.
The creative nature of music therapy supports emotional expression and as the music therapist I often support people to identify and explore something of this self-expression more verbally between our improvisations. I might also support people to write songs and make playlists of important music for them as appropriate.
People who come to therapy will have their own therapeutic aims to assist their recovery and these aims are at the heart of our treatment. It can be fun to create different sounds and music, and playfulness is encouraged, however the experience of creating the music, its meaning and the challenges faced in exploring sometimes difficult feelings are all important elements of the therapy.
Richard (Art Therapist & Manager) As well as seeing imdividual service users I spend quite a lot of my time supporting and supervising individual members of the team, ensuring we have up to date care plans and assessments in place, checking the various systems we have in place to ensure we can continue to work safely, these might include ensuring our environments have no hazards and that we all have the right training to continue to do our work.
I will also attend meetings with other teams of therapists, share latest developments, new ways of working, as well as sharing how we are doing in terms of how we are helping those individuals who are the highest of risk. An important part of my job is helping colleagues think about very risky situations, which might involve very distressed service users, who want help but also push help away.
Claire (Art Psychotherapist)As an art therapist I strive to help people to feel confident about themselves. I encourage the use of art to help people express their feelings and realise how amazing they are.
Everyone is unique in their own wonderful way and their art reflects this. Just think about your hand writing – how different is it compared to your friend’s.
Our Typical Days:
Mandy ( Art Therapist) Most days I see clients individually in the art room, then write up a record of the session on our computer system, liaise with their team about concerns as appropriate. Some days I have Arts therapies colleagues in the office and we can discuss and give/ gain support. We work with people who have had very difficult experiences of mental illness and abuse so it is important to look after ourselves.
One day per week we have a team meeting, thinking about new referrals; monthly we have a business meeting.
We have a considerable amount of statutory and mandatory training to do to maintain professional standards.
Cat (Music Therapist) I usually offer a few therapy sessions in a day and between these I write clinical notes, complete reports and liaise with other staff about shared clients. Sometimes there may be an opportunity to prepare a presentation on my work to advise other staff about the arts therapies ( we are still a small profession so much marketing is needed!).
Richard (Art Therapist and manager) Today (Tuesday) I would have attended two meetings, in the morning the first would be a consultation around how to support a young person who wants to harm themselves, with other clinicians we agree which treatment would be best started first and how to ensure this treatment is supported by the team and the support system around the young person (which includes family and friends). The second meeting which I chair is about day to day business, we go through an agenda and catch up on things like our waiting list
Claire (Art Psychotherapist) A typical day for me often starts by opening up my computer and checking my emails and electronic patient records. If a patient is staying in hospital, there will be lots of progress notes made about their recovery. Progress notes are very important because they keep a team of professionals (including Doctors, Psychiatrists, Social Workers, Support staff, Nurses, Occupational Therapists, Assistant Psychologists, Counselling Psychologists, Clinical Psychologists) informed about someone’s recovery. They can also help with a diagnosis.
After I have checked my patients records and notes I am ready to see my first patient of the morning. Sessions are usually an hour long. During a treatment session, sometimes my patients might make a drawing or a sculpture. We tend to talk about the art work they have produced to figure out if it might somehow relate to their presenting life problem. Art can help tell someone’s story.
Sometimes people don’t make art when they see me. This is ok. Sometimes when people don’t make something we just talk. Another patient started to tear up some paper one day. She was angry and it was evident because her paper expressed how ‘torn up inside she was feeling.’
Spending the Prize Money:
We would donate the money to local schools in our area to help pay for art and musical equipment for children from very deprived backgrounds. We’ll then visit the schools and talk to the students about our jobs and how we use the equipment when working with patients, to introduce students to careers in Arts Therapy.
Quick Fire Questions
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Mandy ( Art Therapist) Thoughtful, Caring, playful
Cat ( Music Therapist) Creative, Conscientious, Coffee-addicted
Richard (Art Therapist & Manager) Stubborn, creative, prone to silliness (5 words )
Claire ( Art Psychotherapist) Creative, Warm and Approachable.
What's your favourite food?
Cat ( Music Therapist) Just one? I’ll have to go for a large region: South East Asian !
Richard (Art Therapist & manager) Pasta 🙂
Claire ( Art Psychotherapist) Japanese 🙂
Mandy (Art Therapist) Prawns, garlic, other people’s chocolate reindeer
What is the most fun thing you've done?
Mandy ( Art Therapist) Travel in Morocco, India , Africa.
Cat ( Music Therapist) Hauling myself around an inflatable assault course on a lake in the rain with lots of very fit people ( of which I am not one!)
Richard (Art Therapist and Manager) Riding my motorbike along fast switchbacks in the Dolomites and arriving at my destination to do some climbing.
Claire ( Art Psychotherapist) Played with baby elephants and chimpanzees in Uganda. They are fun loving creatures and when you play with them you feel so much joy!
What did you want to be after you left school?
Mandy ( Art Therapist) Wasn’t sure? After University by chance I came to work in educational publishing and loved it. Later I wanted to do more to help others, and also to be creative, which is where the Art Therapy came from .
Cat ( Music Therapist) Music Therapy! I’d wanted to do something in the care work field and heard about music therapy through doing some work experience at a special educational needs school when I was 14. I’d always been musical but knew that I did not want to go on and be a performer or teacher so music therapy seemed to combine my two main interests well.
Richard (Art Therapist and Manager) I knew I wanted to work in the arts and I knew I wanted to help people, it wasn’t until I was into my twenties that I met my first Art Therapist, and it dawned on me that I could do both !
Claire ( Art Psychotherapist) I wanted to have a career involving my 2 passions – ‘Art’ and ‘Psychology.’
Were you ever in trouble at school?
Mandy ( Art Therapist) Yes – although I worked hard I was giggly with a friend, which annoyed some of the teachers.
Cat (Music Therapist) Not seriously but I was frequently told off for talking, talking, talking!
Richard (Art Therapist & Manager) No sadly not! my hand writing was too small, but that’s not really being in trouble although it seemed to really annoy one particular teacher (Mrs Bean!)
Claire ( Art Psychotherapist) Yes, a few times
What's the best thing you've done in your career?
Mandy (Art Therapist) Feeling I have helped people – getting good feedback from people I have worked with – being reminded of how Art therapy can help .
Cat ( Music Therapist) It comes right back to the face to face clinical work for me. I feel proud that people feel able to express themselves differently with me in music therapy and feel listened to for who they are, their experiences and that I can facilitate their recovery through music. Perhaps, the best thing I’ve ‘done’ to feel this way is to remain curious and adapt my approach to the needs of the client.
Richard (Art Therapist & Manager ) As with Cat and Mandy, its knowing I have helped people and that I have made a difference (every one says that, but perhaps that’s important)
Claire ( Art Psychotherapist) Help a 6 year child to speak through art. He never spoke at school, so it was a great feeling to help him to speak .
What or who inspired you to do your job?
Mandy ( Art Therapist) No one directly, although I knew others who were counsellors – I was interested in therapy and wanting to be creative myself and help others.
Cat ( Music Therapist) The music therapist, Rex Thomas, at the special school I did work experience with back in 1991 ( wow – feeling old!) and then finding out more about the profession from music therapist Katharine Collingwood who went on to train as a psychotherapist.
Richard (Art Therapist & Manager) No one in particular, however their are many people who are inspiring that I have learnt from including the people I have worked with both now and over the years, significantly I think I have often been inspired by the courage of the service users that I have worked with.
Claire ( Art Psychotherapist) The little boy I talk about above
If you weren't in healthcare, what job would you do?
Mandy (Art Therapist) I used to work in educational publishing which I loved, seeing book through from idea to finished produce. I like analysing and seeing how a product or service can meet a need.
Cat ( Music Therapist) Apart from my creative side I do like old things – so something to do with old buildings and antique fashion – perhaps Archiving in a museum
Richard (Art Therapist & Manager) Illustrator/Artist
Claire ( Art Psychotherapist) Advertising I reckon. I like how an image can sell a product.