Image of Art Therapy Certification Art therapy is a field that brings together the principles of psychotherapy together with the healing power of art to help all types of people with all types of mental and physical health issues. Most art therapists usually must earn either master’s degree or a Ph.D. in the study of art therapy or a related counseling field prior to beginning their practice. Some positions in the field require applicants to obtain certain required art therapy certifications. Requirements to earn a certification can vary depending on the type of art therapy certification at issue and can consist of supervised research, examinations, training hours, and other varying requirements. For example, art therapists certified by the Art Therapy Credentialing Board must at a minimum complete supervised clinical training and pass an examination(1).
Art therapy careers usually require interested students to earn either a master’s degree or a Ph.D. in the study of art therapy. Those interested in pursuing a career in art therapy may choose from a plethora of graduate programs that incorporate various genres of art with the principles and applications of psychotherapy. Master’s degree programs in art therapy usually take about two years of full time study to complete, but might take longer than four years to complete if a student attends part time.
Master’s degree curriculums in art therapy require students to complete extensive course work to gain an in-depth understanding in the subjects of psychotherapy, art therapy, and many other related subjects. Some art therapy master’s programs require students to complete several long research papers or comprehensive examinations. Most programs also include an internship, field work or training component as part of the degree requirement. Once students complete the necessary degree requirements to pursue art therapy jobs they might have to comply with certain licensing requirements prior to becoming a practicing art therapist.
Some art therapists become Registered Art Therapists also knows as “ATR.” In order to obtain ATR status interested students must earn a master’s degree in art therapy from an accredited program that included a supervised practicum, or internship component, and was based around a core art therapy curriculum approved by the Art Therapy Credentials Board(2). Those who wish to be Registered Art Therapists also must obtain supervised clinical experience in the field after earning their master’s degree. Art therapists interested in obtaining their ATR must complete an application and submit it to the Art Therapy Credentials Board also known as the “ATCB.” Art therapists must complete a number of forms to complete the application including forms verifying education and employment experience. ATR’s must pay a yearly maintenance fee to keep their registration current. The ATR is a pre-requisite for art therapists who wish to become board-certified(3).
After earning certification as a Registered Art Therapists, some professionals in the field decide to seek Board Certification from the ATCB also known as “ATR-BC.” In order to become a board certified art therapist interested candidates must first earn their ATR and then sit for and pass a voluntary ATCB examination which is offered yearly(4). Students must submit an application to take the exam and become board certified by filling out either the ATR-BC standard application or the ATR-BC Computer-based Testing application(5). The exam consists of 200 multiple choice questions involving theory and therapeutic application, art therapy treatment and services, professional practice and ethics, assessment, administrative and therapeutic environment, and initial interview and evaluation(6). Candidates have four hours to complete the test. Those with the ATR-BC must renew their certification every five years. ATR-BC holders must also pay a yearly maintenance fee to keep their registration status current.
The Art Therapy Certified Supervisory Credential also known as the “ATCS” is the newest available art therapy certification; the ATCS is available to ATR-BC’s who are interested in pursuing qualifications in supervision(7). In order to obtain the ATCS interested candidates must submit an application to the ATCB along with fee and choose to apply for an education based ATCS or an experience based ATCS(8). The application is then reviewed within eight weeks of when it is received and the candidate is notified whether they were approved or not.
The Art Therapy Credentials Board also known as the ATCB is a professional certification organization that that aims to protect the public and assist art therapists in enhancing their skills. The ATCS seeks to achieve its goals by creating an ethical practice of art therapy and providing resources to both art therapists and those interested in art therapy(9). At the ATCS art therapists can register for and pursue professional certifications and interested patients can obtain access to certified art therapists(10).