How to Become an Art Therapist

Interested in how to become an art therapist or educational requirements? Read through our article below and then explore graduate degree options!

How to Become an Art Therapist

How to become an Art Therapist

Image of one of art therapy technique. You may already be interested in how to become an art therapist but do you know what they really do? A common misconception about the work performed by an art therapist is that they can only stand to benefit artists. This is completely untrue; art therapy can benefit all types of clients and patients regardless of their artistic talents. Art therapy aims to use art in a therapeutic manner, not to teach art to clients. Art therapy jobs combine the use of arts and psychotherapy in order to help all types of clients with a variety of physical and mental health issues.

The job of an art therapist is to bring together principles in psychotherapy with the healing powers or art to improve the overall health and lives of their patients. A typical art therapist job description is not in fact all that typical; art therapists offer vastly varied services to a wide variety of different clients. People with mental health issues, physical disabilities, injuries, illnesses and many other issues might benefit from working with an art therapist.

Job Descriptions for those who want to become an art therapist

Art therapists work in many different environments and perform a vast and varied amount of functions in the execution of their art therapy jobs. Generally, the art therapy job description includes planning and providing treatment grounded in the concepts of psychotherapy and the healing powers of art. Art therapists plan and execute art-centered treatment for patients with emotional social or physical health issues. Art therapists use various techniques such as visual arts, arts and crafts, dance, music, games, sports and many other types or art in the course of their work with patients in an effort to improve the overall quality of their patients’ lives.ii

On a daily basis those pursuing careers in art therapy are likely to be working with various clients and patients in different settings that can be in an office or clinical environment. Art therapists are also tasked with analyzing information from their clients and interpreting a way to use that information to help their client’s overall well-being through the use of the healing powers of art therapy. Those with jobs in art therapy also design and develop programs for their clients. Art therapists talk with clients and teach them how to use different types of art media in a therapeutic manner. Some art therapists conduct extensive research studies regarding the healing effects of art therapy and many other related topics.iii

Those who wish to pursue a career in art therapy should ideally enjoy developing relationships with others, working in a results oriented environment, and working independently.iv Other favorable skills for those wishing to pursue a career in art therapy are a non-judgmental outlook, patience, flexibility, empathy, and experience working with the arts. Art therapists nurture and develop these skills during their educational training in art therapy graduate schools and further cultivate their skills throughout their professional careers.

Types of Work Settings for those who want to become an art  therapist

According to the American Art Therapy Association, art therapy is commonly practiced in mental health centers, rehabilitation facilities, medical facilities, educational settings, forensic settings, wellness facilities, private practice and community settingsv. For example, some art therapists work in a clinical setting where research and psychotherapy principles are a key component of their everyday tasks. Other art therapy jobs are performed largely in non-clinical settings like art studios and workshops where the main focus is on creativity. Some art therapy jobs may be performed in residential care facilities where many therapists can conduct one on one or group sessions for residents whose conditions can stand to benefit from the healing powers of art therapy.

Some art therapists work at hospitals which can be either publicly or privately funded. Art therapists who work at hospitals can work with both admitted and non-admitted patients. Other art therapists meet with clients at their homes and provide their services there. Some art therapy sessions take place outdoors if the art therapist decides that the personally tailored therapy plan of their patients would benefit from including outdoor art sessions. Art therapy jobs can be performed in almost any amenable setting. However, regardless of where art therapy sessions take place, they are always aimed at using psychological principles and the healing power of art together to better the lives of clients who can stand to benefit from art therapy. Still want to become an art therapist? Check out our masters program below!

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