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Art Therapist Wins Trust Award for Innovation

29 May 2017

Robin McCarthy, an Art Psychotherapist with 2gether NHS Foundation Trust, has been given an award for innovation.

Photo (left to right): Shaun Clee (CEO, 2gether NHS Foundation Trust), Anna Burhouse (Quality Director, West of England Academic Health Science Network), Rob McCarthy (Art Therapist), Steve Head (Motivational speaker).

The 2gether NHS Foundation Trust, which provides mental health and social care services in Herefordshire and Gloucestershire, recognised Rob as part of its annual Recognising Outstanding Service Contribution Awards (ROSCAs).

They said about him: “In person, and through his profession, Rob reaches out with warmth, passion and empathy to all he meets – be they staff or service users. He is one of those people who really and uniquely make a difference.

“He is an ambassador to his profession and a huge asset to all of us who work with him.”

In 2015, Rob found himself the only remaining member of what had been a psychotherapy team in Herefordshire, after the community art therapist retired. 

Rob agreed to extend the hours he worked for the Trust and took on the community art therapy service. Within weeks, he had redesigned the provision of the service, setting up a range of groups run from a hub. This led to a significant increase in access and activity in art therapy for service users across the county.

The client is always at the forefront of Rob’s mind and, in partnership with reception staff, Rob installed a Doodle Bar in the waiting room.

Rob also used his skills, energy and enthusiasm to refresh and redesign a tired group room, lobby and reception area at one trust site, after identifying that they had become tired and shabby. His design was driven by his passionate sense of respect for, and inclusion of, his clients.

During this time, for health and safety reasons, a change had to be made to the windows of the building, which deeply distressed members of one art therapy group. Rob encouraged them to express this artistically and the eloquent images were fed back to managers and senior staff. This is just one example of the skillful way that Rob was able to convert a situation that could have led to setbacks in the recovery of service users, into a positive, increasing their sense of trust and wellbeing.

Despite having a heavy caseload, Rob has also found the time to develop community links with the local art college, and a strong collaborative relationship with the University of South Wales and their MA in Art Psychotherapy. This has enabled him to attract art therapy trainees to Herefordshire, who further add to the local service provision.

Rob said: “I was deeply moved to be nominated, let alone win the award.

“The past few years have been successful due to being part of a strong and supportive clinical psychology team, under the leadership of Damian Gardner. 

“I am very happy that art psychotherapy has been highlighted by the award. However, it is the compassion, humour and courage of the art therapy group members and inpatient that has been a constant source of inspiration.”

2gether NHS Foundation Trust