Art Therapy Masters Programs teach students how to combine art and psychology in counseling sessions in order to improve their clients’ physical, mental or emotional well-being. A rather recent field (circa 1940’s), art therapy is considered a mental health profession and requires some specialized counseling techniques along with knowledge of art media.[i] Art therapists generally use their creativity, have a desire to help others, strong listening and communication skills as well as a patient disposition and interest in human cognitive behavior. If this sounds like a fit for you, you will need to earn a Master’s in Art Therapy as this is the standard for entry-level professional practice.[ii]
Art Therapy Masters Programs: Basics
Art Therapy Masters Programs typically involve 2 or 3 years of study beyond the undergraduate degree. may build upon a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology or Fine Arts, and prospective students may be asked to submit a portfolio of their artwork along with a transcript of course credits in studio art or psychology. As counseling programs, a Masters in Art Therapy may involve classroom learning and a supervised practicum which involves observation and practice for course credits and an internship which is also supervised and gives students experience working with clients in real time settings[iii].
DID YOU KNOW? According to the American Art Therapy Association, a master’s degree is required for entry level practice in art therapy. The master’s degree is earned at an institution of higher education recognized by regional accreditation bodies approved by the U. S. Department of Education[iv].
Types of Masters Degrees in Art Therapy
Masters in Art Therapy degrees are offered as Master of Arts and Master of Science tracks. Often students continue with their undergraduate degree path (Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science) and admissions to one graduate program over the other may have specific arts or science pre-requisites. Master of Arts in Art Therapy programs may be more research-focused and have a thesis option, whereas Master of Science in Art Therapy programs tend to be oriented towards clinical practice. In choosing a degree, you might also be able to choose between a specifically art therapy degree as opposed to a counseling degree with an art therapy specialization.