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.