An adventurous climb to a Masters degree
Lois Woodward is celebrating after receiving a Masters degree in Developmental and Therapeutic Play from Swansea University at a graduation ceremony in Brangwyn Hall today (Tuesday, 1st February 2011).
Lois grew up in Swansea and although she had completed a variety of courses in art and design, access to social welfare and a diploma in psychotherapeutics, she had not followed an undergraduate degree. Her main training was as an outdoor pursuit instructor leading climbing, hill walking, kayaking, canoeing and other adventurous activities.
Lois (pictured) said:
“I gained much experience in this field working with a variety of client groups in Wales and Scotland, and leading overseas expeditions. Through this work I became very interested in aiding young people's personal development and making therapeutic use of the outdoors and creative activities.
“When moving back to Swansea in 2008, I started a position with the Down to Earth Project as a wilderness therapist working with young people at risk of disaffection, using the outdoors as a therapeutic space.
“The Down to Earth Project agreed to support my study on the MA programme at Swansea University alongisde my work, and I was able to use the groups at Down to Earth Project as participants in my research thesis, which made my study relevant to work.”
The MA in Developmental and Therapeutic Play at the University’s College of Human and Health Sciences is a diverse course exploring child development, play theory, different forms of therapy, health and education and the links between them to discover how play in its different forms can effectively be used as a means of healing, learning and development.
Lois added: “I’m sure this will help me in gaining employment in the future as well as doing future research. Studying the course has enabled me to build my research skills which have already been useful in compiling my research thesis for the course based on the groups I work with. The research showed that there was a significant increase in the emotional intelligence and self-esteem of the young people who participated in an outdoor based intervention programme at Down to Earth Project.
“Doing the MA has enabled me to meet and network with others on the course from linked organisations. The MA has also provided me with time to explore the links between the theory and practice of different fields including play, outdoor education and wilderness therapy, and look at how they compliment each other.”
As well as graduating, Lois’ highlight during her time at Swansea was during a field trip to Sweden. The field trip is part of the MA programme where students look at education and use of play in a different culture.
Lois said: “I feel fantastic to be graduating and loved spending time with course mates on our field trip to Sweden. It's been an interesting journey with some self doubt and anxiety, but ultimately it feels amazing to have pushed myself and my academic potential to achieve graduation and develop skills that will be useful now and in the future in aiding the healing and development of others.
“I have many hopes and dreams for the future.
“I hope to carry on building personal skills and resources which make me a more useful companion in the healing, education and development of others. I also plan to move abroad to set up a social enterprise with my partner and some close friends and to gain experience of using play, creativity and the outdoors therapeutically.
“I have links with a creative therapy organisation operating in Cambodia, and I am currently working on writing a project proposal to deliver a therapeutic program with them combining climbing, exploration of the natural environment and creative therapy.”