Abigail Kirchmann, Creative Expressive Therapies

What are you doing now?

My role as a Mental Health Locksmith for ExtraCare Retirement Village, Northampton involves me supporting the residents in my care who suffer from a range of mental health problems.

I make referrals to health professionals after undertaking my own psychological assessments of patients which include amongst others MMSE (Mini Mental State Exams). I also conduct creative workshops and facilitate a peer support group once a week for residents who need support with isolation and have been diagnosed with dementia.

My journey after graduation has been positive. Whilst I was still studying at Derby my first role was a creative children’s worker in a South Derbyshire children’s home after which I started my current career in December 2013.

What were the main reasons you took that course?

I chose BA (Hons) Creative Expressive Therapies because the course was exactly what I wanted to do in the future - use creativity as a form of therapy. The combination of academic study and art (art, drama, music, and dance) was just perfect for me.

Why did you choose to study the course at the University of Derby?

Derby was the only university offering an undergraduate degree for creative therapies which can be used in further education.

What impact has studying this course at Derby had on your career?

It made me realise how much I loved studying as I genuinely enjoyed my time researching and learning. I graduated with a 1st class honours degree which I would have never thought I could achieve.

How did the lecturers inspire you?

They were all amazing. As well as the lectures the course itself opened my eyes to how much creativity can support well-being. Most lecturers were qualified therapists and they inspired me to work hard so one day I too would be a qualified therapist.

How do you feel the University has helped you in your career so far?

The 10 week placement in year 3 opened up many opportunities providing me with a great reference and looked very impressive on my CV. Through the placement I developed my skills and confidence to work in the field of creative therapy after graduation. 

What are your future plans?

It's my dream to work as a qualified Professional Psychotherapist within the NHS. For now I'll continue to work then in a couple of year’s progress onto a Master’s course in Mental Health: Psychological therapies at Queen Mary University which I've been accepted on to.  

What would you say to anyone thinking of coming to study this course at the University of Derby?

To most definitely do it - Derby is a great university which really supports its students. Plus the Creative Expressive Therapies course provides a range of transferrable skills which can be used in any mental health care setting.