Art Therapy Student Helps Transform The Lives Of Those With A Disability

10th October 2023
L-R: Susin Reid, (Manager Balloo Training & Resource Centre), Patsie McManus, (Disability Day Services Lead), Aveen McCraith, (Assistant Director Allied Health Professions), Kate Goodwin (Art Therapy student), Sinéad Conlon, (Paramedic Practice Educator)

The South Eastern Trust has teamed up with Ulster University to provide a practice-based learning opportunity for a student who is studying MSc Art Psychotherapy. This partnership has resulted in a student attending six weekly sessions at the Avondale Disability Hub in Newtownards.

The partnership offers practical experience to students pursuing their MSc in Art Psychotherapy while simultaneously benefiting service users within the community.

MSC Art Psychotherapy Student, Kate Goodwin has been able to apply her academic knowledge to real-world scenarios, making a meaningful impact on the lives of those she has worked with.

Commenting on the partnership, Kate Goodwin, expressed how the opportunity benefits service users, saying, “Art therapy is a form of psychotherapy involving the user of art techniques and materials to strategically address areas of growth and development.

“It provides service users the opportunity to express their inner thoughts while assisting them to better understand and make sense of their emotions and mental health.

“Ultimately the goal of art therapy is to help gain personal insight, self-awareness and new coping strategies that promote an improved level of functioning and quality of life. Art Therapy is suitable for all ages.  Some people can feel overwhelmed by the problems they face, by the pressures they feel to succeed and by the hectic world. Art therapy is used to help a wide spectrum of conditions and illnesses and provides service users with a voice which can help them to communicate their thoughts and feelings.”

One service user involved stated, “Art Therapy is super cool. It is relaxing and has definitely helped me.

“Kate is a star and I feel happy when I take part.”

Practice Educator, Sinéad Conlon, explained “I was approached by Ulster University to facilitate a placement for one of their Art Psychotherapy students. This pilot placement has seen the student using art materials as a therapeutic tool for service users who are regular attendees at the Trust’s Day Centres in Newtownards & Bangor.”

The sessions held at the Avondale Disability Hub have received initial feedback suggesting that they have been an incredibly worthwhile experience for the service users involved. Art therapy has been shown to have a positive impact on mental health and emotional well-being, and these sessions have provided a unique opportunity for individuals with learning disabilities to express themselves and engage in a creative and therapeutic environment.

The Trust is committed to fostering educational opportunities and supporting students on their learning journeys. This collaboration not only enriches the education of students like Kate Goodwin, but also reinforces the Trust’s dedication to serving its community through innovative partnerships.

We are proud to have played a role in facilitating this dynamic learning experience and look forward to exploring further collaborations in the future that benefit both students and the community.