Strategic Action Plan

Building on my last blog post in which I identified aspects of my future career pathway I am anxious about, I wanted to develop more of a strategic action plan to provide structure for myself after graduation.

I started by using SWOT analysis to identify my strengths, weaknesses, threats, and opportunities. This was helpful in identifying objectives that I wanted to focus on further in the remainder of this year, and beyond.

I used this analysis to set up my nine main objectives that will give me structure for the development of my career in art therapy. I set these out alongside my Career Path Diagram, which describes a far more general yet necessary path to become registered with HCPC and BAAT, and practise as an art therapist.

These nine objectives are as follows:

  1. I need to graduate to have a better chance of getting a job.
  2. It is difficult getting to job opportunities without a car. I need to pass my driving test in July.
  3. I do not have enough clinical work experience. I will contact Occupational/Art Therapy teams at hospitals to ask for shadowing opportunities, and also look for volunteering roles.
  4. I need a job after graduation. I would like this to be in the healthcare industry because it will help me gain more clinical experience to apply for the Masters programme.
  5. I need/would like more training in the mental health field.
  6. I would like more experience in organising art workshops. I will set up ‘Sunday Workshops’
  7. I need to establish my personal brand online.
  8. I need to plan how I will manage if I get a job in the healthcare industry.
  9. I need formal postgrad training and accreditation to have enough knowledge to practise as an effective art therapist. I will apply for a postgrad Masters programme, and get accredited with the HCPC and BAAT.

I broke down these objectives into smaller steps to form my Action Plan for my career. Next I will show you an example of how I broke down one of these objectives into further action points. If you are my tutor reading this, please refer to my ‘LaunchPad Supporting Documents’ file for my full Action Plan!

Objective 3 – Gain more clinical work experience.

This objective is one of my most important ones that I will focus on in the foreseeable future – I would like to have a deeper understanding of working with vulnerable people to explore how I can use art and creativity to support them. This was part of the feedback I got back from my interviewers’ for the job I recently applied for – although they were pleased with my enthusiasm for the role and the potential benefit of harnessing my creativity, they informed me that I would have had a greater chance of success if I had more experience working with mental health. Therefore, a large part of my Action Plan is focused on this.

Additionally, an equivalent of one year’s full-time experience in the healthcare industry is important to get accepted into a Masters programme so I can receive formal training in art therapy and have the opportunity to register with the HCPC and BAAT.

In my Career Path Diagram I show that this equivalates to roughly 2,080 hours of work experience. However, after attending the virtual Open Day for Roehampton University MA Art Psychotherapy course, I have learnt that a lot of the times, these courses aren’t looking for that exact number of work experience hours. It is a rough estimate they use to judge whether you have an existing knowledge of mental health and healthcare. Saying this, I have chosen to keep the qualitative amount in my Career Path Diagram because it will give me structure and motivation.

When I am applying for the Masters course, I can also look to the BAAT organisation for training in preparing portfolios. They also offer additional training courses such as introductions to art therapy that I could consider taking part in the future.

Additionally, there are also further training opportunities (not including MA courses) which I could make use in the future before applying for the Masters course, such as Foundation courses from colleges and universities. Below are some of these:

SMART Goals and Timeframe Planning

After establishing my Action Plan by breaking down each objective into smaller steps, I used the SMART method of setting goals to apply timeframes to my objectives. Afterwards, I could use these timeframes to organise my action plan further into a six-monthly plan.

This is my action plan for the next 6 months. I am fully aware that this will probably change and have prepared to amend this.

After 6 months, it becomes a little difficult to predict and plan what objectives will become important to me. Therefore, for my 1 year timeframe goals, I have picked two of the most important ones for me: more clinical experience and further training. The latter is my main goal for my 1 year timeframe – I would like to save up enough money to apply for a Foundation or introductory course in art therapy. This will give me more of an idea of whether I would like to pursue art therapy as a career and prepare for postgraduate study. In terms of my long-terms goals, I would like to apply for a Masters course within the next 5 years.

I will make a new action plan yearly to clarify my main objectives for the upcoming year.

Sunday Workshops

An important aspect of my action plan are my ‘Sunday Workshops’ that I would like to set up. At the start, these would be workshops I would lead with friends and family to practise organising art activities.

Have a look at Art Therapy Resources for their tips and guidance on organising workshops!

These will be a chance for me to experiment, and later develop my skills to increase my confidence in leading these types of activities. I would like to develop this idea further in the next six months by contacting local museums and asking whether I would be able to set up and lead some art workshops with them.

I will also be able to use the footage of these workshops with permission of the participants on my Instagram to advertise myself and my aspirations. Combine this with my plan to do the #100daysofmeotionalliteracy challenge, I will be able to set up my online brand more effectively.

There is only one thing left to do – let’s get working!


Professional Skills and Attributes – What next?

Researching further into art therapy as a field has really inspired me to consider my own personal skills and attributes, and what I could focus on improving to help my professional personality.

I considered my time at University and what attributes I have learned about myself, and what skills I have developed. I have split up the skills into two categories – technical and personal. I have highlighted skills and attributes which I think could be particularly transferable to art therapy as a career.

Studying modelmaking at University has highlighted some of my personal attributes, such as creativity and curiosity. This has been really helpful during projects, as I naturally tended to delve a little deeper into the research which informed my making, and my understanding of the world around me. I have noticed I am very curious about many art processes, and have build up a familiarity with numerous materials and techniques.

My studies have also taught me to develop my problem-solving skills, while emphasising the advantage of building an adaptable mindset. It’s been really useful during moments when my projects went wrong, and I had to use my initiative to find alternative ways of completing my models. I believe this has also been really important in helping me develop resilience and resourcefulness.

At the same time, I have been working in a nursing home for over three years since I’ve turned 18 years old. I also volunteered with children in a school for a number of years before that. I have learnt that I have a really big passion for people from these experiences. I think my listening skills are a strong attribute – in both guiding the students during activities and when talking with the residents. During my time at the nursing home, I quickly learned that people communicate in very different ways, and some may struggle more than others. It has really helped me be more openminded and to find alternative ways of communicating when needed.

My work and studies have also shown me my weaknesses and what I could work on. For instance, I can find time management to be a bit of a struggle sometimes and will need to learn to remind myself of the bigger picture and not hyper-focus on the small details of a task or project. I believe working on effective goal setting might be helpful with this. Additionally, emotional stability is an incredibly important skill for someone working in therapeutic/clinical situations – I would really like to develop this area more in order to be a more active listener.

Moreover, my University studies have also shown me that I often feel uncomfortable working in larger groups. This is something that I would really like to work on, as art therapists often have to work with many other colleagues from different professions. They also often have to present themselves to potential employers, raising awareness of the benefits of art therapy. I would like to focus on expanding my overall business and entrepreneurship skills in general – I already have experience in administration so I think a viable next step is to expand my knowledge and confidence in these areas.

Overall, I believe my experiences have helped me to build a self-awareness of myself and shown me areas that I could focus on more to develop myself as an artist, creator, and facilitator.