Postgraduate Drama Therapy Personal Statement
I have sat in audiences at the theatre and felt a sense of freedom. At times of stress I played my flute until day turned to night. Painting offers me a window into my imagination and opens a door to escapism. Knowing the catharsis that emotional expression through the arts has offered me, I wonder, can I help others to attain well-being in the same way?
I have always been drawn to the creative arts and involved myself in some way throughout my life; from playing in school orchestras, acting in school plays, singing in bands for charity and completing murals and art displays. Throughout my working life I have carved out an informal niche role as the ‘creative go-to’ person. Realising my talent and passion for the creative arts, I have been striving to find a role where I can marry my love of artistic expression with psychological explorations. It is my view that the MA in Dramatherapy might offer me this balance. Whilst I am committed to every job role, I have always felt that something was missing. When I learned about this course, it felt like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders as it seemed like a perfect opportunity to combine my creative and therapeutic skills. I hope to be able to fuse my musical and artistic abilities to form a complimentary approach which could inform future Dramatherapy practice.
In 2001, I completed a BSc (Hons) in Psychology with Criminology at Roehampton University, achieving a 2:1. The course requirements led to two dissertations being compiled and submitted and during this time I was focused on a career in forensic psychology. I started on my path to gain the experience needed to become a forensic psychologist, all the while gaining priceless life experience and an assortment of transferable strengths and skills. Throughout my academic experiences, there were times when personal circumstances were not ideal, however, I felt I worked well under the pressure, always remaining focused and driven. I am aware that a requirement of this course is to undertake personal therapy. This is something I have experience of and would welcome further exploration into, in order to learn more about myself, my journey and my emerging identity as a therapist.
I value researching and learning about working environments, often by undertaking voluntary or seconded positions before committing to full-time contracts. This prevents me from jumping into situations unaware and unprepared. From 2006 - 2009, on a relief basis, I worked at HMP Wandsworth, a category B prison for males. My position was as a ‘link worker and the experience was invaluable. My role led me to interactions with inmates whose offences covered a broad spectrum. I encountered many individuals who had been diagnosed with a mental illness and others with more than one presenting diagnosis; this allowed me to explore and deepen my psychological understanding in a practical sense, rather than just the knowledge I had gained from my degree. My role allowed me to deal with sensitive issues, such as someone expressing suicidal ideation or presenting with self harm. Although art painted by inmates was presented on the high walls, I always felt the prison could have done more to enhance and encourage creative expression.
From 2007 – 2010, on a full time basis, I started working at a residential unit for adolescents with emotional and behavioural difficulties. This allowed me to work intensely with individuals over a long period of time, gaining a wealth of experience. Whilst at the residential unit, I took on the additional role of Activity Co-ordinator. This role involved making a series of programmes for activities that were diverse, taking into account, healthy living, physical and educational pursuits. The programmes were engaging and promoted positive interactions between young people and staff. Compiling these programmes allowed me to flap my creative wings. We held art sessions and encouraged the use of the on site music studio and organised trips to the theatre. The young people would engage with the arts as an escape from the turbulent and sometimes frightening environment of the residential unit. Many of these children commented rarely feeling a sense of achievement, however creative activities often gave them the feeling of self-worth that the education system was unable to provide for them.
Since April 2010, I have been employed at Broadmoor Hospital, a high secure psychiatric hospital for mentally ill and personality disordered males. My role was as a ‘Therapy Assistant’. I fully involved myself in day to day ward life and again enjoyed the more creative activities such as singing with the patients in the music room and completing artistic projects. A number of patients reflected that the informal creative groups were more beneficial than the formal talking therapies. With this in mind, I began to be interested in exploring the significance, importance and impact of non-verbal approaches to well-being.
In November 2010, still at Broadmoor Hospital, I began my secondment in an area known as Newbury Therapy Unit. My role is as a ‘Nurse Therapist Assistant’. It was here that I surrendered to my creative voice and unearthed my passion for Dramatherapy. I was aware that this department worked closely with the Arts Therapies Department to enhance the experience of therapy delivered to the patients. The innovative and progressive ideas and concepts were a breath of fresh air. I started co-facilitating a cognitive skills group, which lasted for three months. During this time, the process gave me a lot of confidence and built skills in facilitating groupwork. I was disappointed to learn that a psychodynamic group for Art and Drama was no longer running. As part of my post, I have been assigned a clinical supervisor who is a Dramatherapist. The only feeling I can describe following a supervision session is one of enlightenment. After much thought and discussion with family and peers, I decided to start researching Dramatherapy trainings. I am excited to be able to enter into a relatively unknown field where my interest only spurs my curiosity and passion. A passion I hope you will give me a chance to express on the course.
In terms of hobbies, I have always been a keen theatre goer and enjoy musicals the most. I sit envious in the stalls inspired by the people on the stage. I also enjoy singing, and was part of a small band that sang to raise over £2500 for various charities. As a shy person when I was younger, I threw myself into experiences that would demand me to step out of the shadows and this has helped me become more confidant and able to present in front of others. I often go on holiday with my watercolours or at the very least a pencil and pad, so I can sketch. Travel is a big part of my life, and I hope to visit every continent at some point. I also enjoy varied socialising activities; cinema, photography, laughing with friends and family. In my spare time I find monologues on the internet and read them trying to embody the feelings of the characters. I also enjoy festivals, gigs and fancy dress.
I am a highly motivated and self-driven person with the ability to adapt to a constantly changing environment. I have a positive outlook on life and I am willing to invest time and effort into pursuing my long term goals. I always strive to encounter any problem with an open mind and seek to achieve well-being. I embrace training, reflective practice and supervision, as I see them as avenues for personal growth that will enhance my strengths and skills. I take direction well, but also use my initiative to complete a task. I will take on constructive criticism in the view that it will only be offered to better my abilities. I am not afraid to ask questions and I do tend to pick things up quickly.
Due to my life and work experience, tenacity and abilities to work with others, I believe I would be a benefit to the future cohort of trainees. Undertaking the MA in Dramatherapy will, I hope, enable me to develop the knowledge and skills to fulfil my innate purpose - helping others to attain well-being through the arts.
This personal statement was written by Bernie-Fox for application in 2011.
I window into my heart and soul!