Case study

Dance movement psychotherapist — Carol Victoria Jaffier

As a dance movement psychotherapist working in the NHS, Carol has a varied workload. Find out more about the type of patients she works with and how she is able to make a positive difference to their lives 

What degree did you study?

I studied for an MA in Dance Movement Psychotherapy at the University of Roehampton and graduated in 2018.

How did you get your job?

I work for the NHS specialising in both inpatient mental health and child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS). I applied for my job via the NHS TRAC jobs website.

What's a typical working day like?

A typical working day starts with a morning handover meeting involving the multidisciplinary team (MDT), where the patients are discussed, new patients are introduced and any new or relevant information is given before I meet my patients.

My day consists of facilitating group and individual therapy sessions, formulating treatment plans, attending meetings, contributing to the MDT and assessing patient engagement. 

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I work in four NHS hospitals that treat a variety of inpatient populations - CAMHS learning disabilities/autism, rehabilitation, older adult psychiatry and acute mental health - and I see the difference having access to creative arts psychotherapies can make to the service users. 

What are the challenges?

The current challenges I face are working during the COVID-19 pandemic, as there has been a sharp uptake of people coming into hospital and accessing mental health services. It can be challenging trying to remain safe when providing therapeutic support to those most in need.  

In what way is your degree relevant?

It was instrumental as it is impossible to gain employment as a dance movement psychotherapist without an MA. The training and support I received from my lecturers at the University of Roehampton gave me the confidence to apply for the position I now have. 

How has your role developed?

My role has developed in several ways. For example, I will soon be delivering in-house International Centre for Arts Psychotherapies Training (ICAPT) training for the NHS as part of the arts psychotherapies team. I also have an additional role as a placement manager, supervising dance movement psychotherapy trainees on NHS mental health inpatient wards.  

What are your top tips for choosing a Masters?

When I made the decision to return to postgraduate education, I chose a Masters that would enhance the skills I already had and complement my undergraduate qualification in dance and musical theatre. I combined my interest in psychology and dance and gained a new successful career.  

What advice can you give to others wanting to get into this job?

  • Select a university that will give you an opportunity to thrive while offering tip-top tuition.
  • Decide on the area you would like to specialise in and make that decision a factor when choosing work placements as it will count towards prior work experience on your CV.
  • Although it is a competitive workplace, it's possible to be successful and gain employment. 

Find out more

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