combine the practice of visual arts with the study of psychotherapy. A Masters in Art Therapy online focuses on training students through best practices to help people with mental health issues use art to communicate and work through problems.
Students in art therapy programs are trained to develop evidence-based clinical skills, to use top art therapy theories fluently, and to employ social skills in many cultures and environments. Students receiving an art therapy education are also expected to stay abreast of developing art technologies and different types of media emerging in the art world. Other goals of online art therapy masters courses and programs include training students to think empirically and to be effective researchers, as much of the field is based on investigative skills.
In addition to art in and of itself, online art therapy masters programs address psychology concepts like ego, human behavior, and relationships. Many programs also emphasize psychoanalysis. Students could expect to study the work of scientists such as Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, and others who have done relevant research in a related field. Most programs award a master of arts in art therapy upon satisfactory completion. However, some programs do offer a master of science instead. Depending on the program, an M.S. may focus more on psychology than an M.A., which may be more focused on art and communication. Applicants should research their programs of choice thoroughly to determine which options might support their academic and career goals.
Online art therapy masters programs typically require applicants to hold a baccalaureate degree from an accredited four-year institution. Many programs require the applicant to have taken a certain number of undergraduate courses in art therapy, studio art, and/or psychology.
Other potential application requirements for Art Therapy Masters Programs Online include:
- Letters of Recommendation
- Official Undergraduate Transcripts
- Personal Statement Or Essay
- Art Portfolio
- Standardized Test Scores
Since the field is based on professional interaction and communication with patients, many programs also require a summary of employment and/or volunteer services that details the applicant’s experience with human services and direct client contact.
Online Masters in Art Therapy Curriculum
Online art therapy masters programs differ in their course offerings depending on the school. However, most programs will offer classes that cover the skills that are accepted as necessary for the field. Some common classes that a student may encounter in an art therapy graduate program are described below:
- Art therapy assessment courses are designed to help students understand and administer assessments of patients. Students will learn about both structured and unstructured assessments, and they will develop writing skills that will be useful in writing clinical reports. Students will also learn about how to administer assessments for different populations of patients, such as children, older patients, mentally handicapped patients, and more.
- Research and/or evaluation courses teach students how to conduct research in art therapy and how to employ different research methods. The course will likely cover the research process, research approaches in different aspects of the field or subfields, and constructive critiques of scholarly research.
- Art media and materials courses will emphasize the different types of art and media that could be used in the practice of art therapy. These classes will likely focus on which types of art and media are most appropriate for which populations, and will teach students how to use the particular medium in their patients’ therapy to maximize results. Issues relating to ethics and safety when using the media and materials are likely to be emphasized as well.
- Group therapy courses are designed to orient students to working with groups, which is a skill that is likely to be needed in an art therapy career. The course will likely teach students about the differences between working with an individual and with a group, and the challenges presented by those differences. Students will learn techniques and methods for group therapy, study the effects of group therapy on the individual members of the group, and understand the development process that is unique to group settings.
- Diagnosis and treatment courses help students to be able to identify different disorders or mental issues in their patients and determine the appropriate treatment. These types of courses typically use case studies that will teach students to identify a broad range of mental conditions, and students will explore the effects of art therapy on people with these conditions to make informed decisions about the right therapy and media for them.
- Ethics in art therapy courses are designed to train students in the best practices for the ethical use of professional art therapy. Students will learn how to avoid and resolve ethical dilemmas, how different ethical problems arise in situations such as abuse and breaches of confidentiality, and how to act ethically in different professional environments. Legal issues, advertising, research, security, and other issues relating to ethics are usually discussed and studied in these courses.
- Principles of psychotherapy courses are important in art therapy programs since psychotherapy is integral to art therapy. Classes will likely emphasize the study of Freud, Jung, and other scientists crucial to the field, and their theories and ideas. Students will learn fundamental clinical approaches to psychotherapy in practice and how best to employ it in the field.
For courses in art therapy, students should remember that many courses have prerequisites, and so it is advised that art therapy students verify the appropriate sequence designated by their particular programs to properly fulfill the program requirements.
Additional Requirements in Masters in Art Therapy Online Programs
Earning a masters in art therapy degree online may be a good fit for students who wish to pursue careers in clinical and/or medical environments, in primary or secondary schools, and who need a flexible schedule. Many programs require students to spend a certain number of hours gaining field experience in a supervised environment in an internship or practicum with direct client contact. The internship/practicum often takes place in the second half of the program and supplements the material taught in the coursework. It serves to give the students work experience to provide them with a possible edge in the job market. Masters programs in art therapy may also have a research and writing component in the form of a master’s thesis. This may involve working with a faculty member as a mentor while researching and writing about some aspect of the field, and presenting the resulting paper or case study to the department at the end of the program. Many masters programs also require candidates to take and pass cumulative or comprehensive exams that test the skills and concepts taught during the program and which are vital knowledge for success in the field.
Selecting a Masters in Art Therapy Online Program
When choosing online art therapy degree programs to apply to, there are several things to consider that are specific to this profession. Some masters programs have more intensive internship requirements than others. Applicants to art therapy programs may want to compare these requirements. Students should also consider what types of opportunities the school will provide to students—for instance, whether the school has a special connection to a prestigious internship site or how much credit they will award to students for their practicum/internship. Another factor an applicant may want to consider when selecting a school is academic interests. For instance, one program may focus more on the artistic aspects of the field, promoting the idea that the art therapist’s artistic abilities and growth help to promote the patient’s recovery and wellness. Others, however, might focus on the theoretical and research aspects as a means to promote and supplement the students’ investigative and clinical skills. Finally, flexibility and time commitment may be an important aspect to consider when choosing an art therapy masters program. Most programs take around two years to complete full-time. However, this could vary from school to school, especially if you’re studying online and have the option of choosing your own pace.
After You Art Therapy Masters : Art Therapy Certification & Licensure
As graduation from your art therapy program approaches, it is important to find out which requirements are needed to pursue a career practicing art therapy in the field. One credential to practice art therapy is the Art Therapist Registered, or ATR, administered by the American Art Therapy Association (AATA
). The ATR can be attained upon graduation from an AATA-approved art therapy program for qualifying students who have completed 1,000 supervised hours practicing art therapy directly for clients during the course of their program. Once you have acquired an ATR credential, qualifying students may be eligible to take an exam to earn board certification, or BC. The ATR and the BC are granted by the Art Therapy Credentials Board (ATCB
). While most states do not require a license to practice as an art therapist, this is subject to change and may vary by state. The license is typically known as the LPAT, or licensed professional art therapist. If you intend to teach art or art therapy with your graduate degree, you may need teacher licensing and certification for the state in which you intend to teach. To enhance your career after graduation, you may want to look into acquiring a counseling license. A licensed counselor may be able to qualify for a wider variety of careers since it is less specific than licensed art therapy. One caveat could be that your career may involve less art therapy than you anticipated or hoped, depending on your role and practice type.
Find Online Art Therapy Masters Programs
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