Article thumbnail

Yes, you can get a job doing art therapy! How Kimberly Ryan landed her dream job in the field

People find amazing jobs on EthicalJobs.com.au every day. This is part of a series of blog posts that go behind the scenes to meet some of the people and organisations finding each other through EthicalJobs.com.au.

Today’s story is from Kimberly Ryan, who found her job as an Expressive (Arts) Therapist at yourtown on EthicalJobs.com.au. Formerly known as BoysTown, yourtown is a community services provider that delivers a range of programs and services for children, young people and families around Australia.

Hey Kimberly, thanks for chatting to us! To start us off, can you tell us about your first ever paid job?

My first ever paid job was a paper round in the UK where I grew up. I was 13, and I had to get up at 6am to take my bike and go collect papers from the local newsagent and deliver them.

Tell us about your education – what did you study to work in art therapy?

I completed a Bachelor in Dance and Master in Dance Movement Psychotherapy. Without my masters, I wouldn’t be able to do my job – it’s given me the foundation to be able to work in the field that I really enjoy. It also gave me direction in finding out where I wanted to work and what population it was that I wanted to work with.

My dance background also gave me an opportunity to understand that I wanted to work in the community. Before that, I only had a vague idea of what I wanted to do with my life.

My degree gave me a lot of opportunities to work with community organisations and schools, and see what a difference the arts can make in the lives of young people. So my education really set me on the path to where I am now.

Tell us a bit about the rest of your career before starting at yourtown.

My first job after qualifying was in a male youth offending institution and prison in the UK. I was working for an NGO and it was a new project. At the time, the UK was just beginning to give everyone access to psychological therapy by providing early intervention support for people who were showing early signs of anxiety and depression.

Next I got a job in another pilot program with a child and adolescent mental health service, part of the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK. We provided creative therapies for children in foster care and their foster carers, as well as children at risk of being removed. It was a wonderful service that I got to be a part of setting up.

Then I moved over to Australia – I first worked for the Benevolent Society in a women and children’s domestic violence service, and then I came to yourtown.

So tell what exactly an Expressive Therapist is . . .

I work with parents who are under the age of 25 with children in their care and are homeless. So, often they’ve suffered some kind of trauma themselves. Part of my role here is to support parents in building a really secure attachment relationship with their children, and also to support children with their own trauma.

My role includes using creative therapies including dance and movement, music, art, play and dramatherapy approaches to inform interventions when meeting with parents, and parents and children together.

And how does that work fit into the broader work that yourtown does?

Yourtown is a youth charity that works primarily with people under the age of 25. We support young peoplewho might be marginalised or disadvantaged for any reason, whether that’s homelessness, mental health, unemployment or difficulties with education.

We’re wholly focused on supporting young people to reach their potential, through a variety of ways: employment programs, a youth homelessness refuge, parenting programs and school engagement programs, as well as Kids Helpline, our 24-hour counselling service for young people, which is a huge part of yourtown.

And what first attracted you to the organisation when you saw the ad on EthicalJobs.com.au?

It’s very rare to find my job actually advertised! My job title here is ‘Expressive Therapist’, and it’s a fairly new field the world over but particularly in Australia – it’s very much emerging. This ad was very specifically advertising for an expressive therapist, so I was very excited.

I looked into yourtown and it was very clear the organisation has very strong values around not offering a one-size-fits-all approach – it’s very much about the individual, and being innovative and creative around how you provide a service. That really fit for me.

Many people who work for community organisations know they could earn a more lucrative salary in the public or private sector. What has motivated you to work in the not-for-profit sector?

Oh, hands down the values. My experience – certainly here in Australia – has been that the not-for-profit organisations that I’ve been lucky enough to work with have hugely strong value bases. Everything they do is informed by that, the programs are built on that, and the interactions with clients are built on that.

You find that everyone’s really drawn together in that way, wanting to do the best for each of their clients, to see them achieve the best outcomes and reach their potential. So it’s quite a different atmosphere when you come in to the sector.

And just finally, what advice would you give to the many ethical jobseekers who dream of a landing a job like yours?

Focus on your own values. If you know what drives you and what values you have yourself, I think you’ll very easily find something that fits for you.

I think it’s really worth hanging in there to find your right fit – if you can go to work every day and know you’ve done the right thing by that and that the organisation works in the same way, then you’ll have a really fulfilling career.

Thanks Kimberly!

Other posts you might be interested in:

Get weekly updates with expert tips to help you land your dream ethical job