Continuing education is a large part of many career fields following the completion of a secondary degree, and often required in order to maintain professional licenses and certifications. In fact, participating in continuing education courses is potentially a very important part of furthering professional development and staying up to date with current field advances. This may be especially true within the constantly evolving field of art therapy. As a young discipline originating from these fields, art therapy may be a prime example of how rapid growth in theory and technology occurs.
Art therapy continuing education programs are overseen by the National Board of Certified Counselors. According to the American Art Therapy Association, courses are required to cover topics relating to psychological and psycho-therapeutic theories and practice including: art therapy assessment, art therapy theory and practice, client populations, art theory and media and professionalism and ethics1. The breadth of these content areas enables a good deal of flexibility when choosing specific course that will allow therapists seeking to grow their current skills and acquire new ones to do so.
Benefits of Earning a Graduate Certificate in Art Therapy
Relative to continuing education courses are art therapy certification programs. These programs are designed to help therapists to develop highly specialized skills that they are able to transfer to practice. For instance; certificate tracks may include concentrations in areas such as: art, music, drama, or dance/movement, each as they relate to healing. This may be helpful for both therapists who are seeking to re-acquaint themselves with skills they already possess as well as those interested in adding new skills in order to pursue a change in work environment or pursue career enhancement. For example, therapists without experience working with adults in a rehabilitation setting that desire to add this skill to their résumé may benefit from a certificate program that addresses this area specifically.
The prerequisites to art therapy certificate programs may vary sometimes requiring a minimum number of undergraduate credits to prior completion of a graduate degree. In addition, programs may also require participants to be licensed mental health or health care professional. Fundamental prerequisites however; include previous courses in art, psychology, and counseling.
Certificate in Art Therapy Requirements
Program requirements typically involve approximately 5-6 courses, including 1-2 core courses and 3-5 elective courses which cover such topics as: expressive arts therapy, drama therapy, personality theory, and abnormal psychology. Some programs allow therapists seeking continuing education requirements to apply these courses towards certificate credit thereby allowing individuals to test their interest in certificate coursework prior to committing to the long term plan of study.
Examples of art therapy certificate programs include: John F. Kennedy University, Appalachian State University, and Lesley University. A number of programs offer on campus courses which may require structured class attendance and timelines for completion, however online program options may also be offered through some institutions which lend increased flexibility and in most cases are considered self-paced, allowing learners to complete them within 1-2 years of registration. The Trauma-Informed Practices and Expressive Arts Therapy Institute and Learning Center for instance offers a uniquely focused, entirely online format. Courses are typically 3-12 hours in total length; meaning that a program could range from 15-60 credit hours. Instructional methods and learner performance may be similar to that of most graduate degree programs involving reading assignments, quizzes, exams, short papers, and unique art based intervention activities. Following satisfactory completion of all programs course objectives, a certificate of completion will be issued as proof of participation.
Art Therapy Certificate Programs FAQ
Q: What are the benefits of obtaining a certificate in art therapy?
A: Certificate programs offer learners opportunities to explore core and advanced subject areas of art therapy at a more in-depth level of analysis. In addition, they may contribute to professional development and enhance a variety of learner skills and areas of expertise. Certificate program courses may also be used to satisfy continuing education requirements, or to assist in career enhancement or transitioning.
Q: What are the requirements to be accepted into an art therapy certificate program?
A: The majority of programs require that applicants already possess, or be working toward a graduate degree in: art therapy, counseling, psychology, or related human services area. Specific prerequisite courses or content areas may vary by program. Previous counseling or therapy experience, or other demonstration of skills such as compassion, empathy, patience, and organization are helpful.
Q: Is a background in art or a specific art talent (e.g., painting, poetry, music) necessary?
A: Although, many learners interested in art therapy do possess an interest or talent in a specific art medium, formal training or background is often not necessary. In these cases, learners only require a willingness to engage and share in the use of various artistic experiences to help individuals grow and heal. Some programs with an emphasis in dance or music however, may require a portfolio submission, audition, or other indication of current abilities.
Q: Is personal participation in art therapy required?
A: Requirements may vary by program, though active participation in expressive arts may help to facilitate understanding of therapy impacts and enhance personal experience. Those specializing in dance or music may have experience different requirements than general art programs.
Q: What is the average certificate program cost?
A: Costs will vary by program; depending largely on the number of required courses, materials, tuition and fees. Financial aid or discounts for multiple course enrollments may also be available for individuals who qualify.
Q: Are there online certificate programs?
A: Yes, though every certificate program may not offer an online option, some programs do. In addition, programs without an online option may also offer evening or weekend classes.