Art Therapy

Occupational Description

Art Therapy is a mental health and human services profession that enriches the lives of individuals, families, and communities through a transdisciplinary synthesis of active art-making, creative process, applied psychological theory, and human experience within a psychotherapeutic relationship. Art Therapy, facilitated by a professional art therapist, effectively supports mental health treatment goals and intra- and interpersonal needs, as well as community concerns. Art Therapy is used to improve cognitive and sensory-motor functions, foster self-esteem and self-awareness, cultivate  emotional resilience, promote insight, enhance social skills, reduce and resolve conflicts and distress, and advance societal and ecological change. 

Job Description

Although use of visual imagery is the foundational tenet of Art Therapy, Art Therapists uniquely draw from multiple theoretical approaches in their understanding, design, and implementation of treatment. Art Therapists understand the science of imagery and the therapeutic potentials of color, texture, and various art media and how these affect a wide range of potential clients and personalities.  Clinical training in working with individuals, families, groups, and communities prepare Art Therapists to make parallel assessments of clients’ general psychological disposition and how art as a process is likely to moderate conditions and corresponding behavior.  Recognizing the ability of art and artmaking to reveal thoughts and feelings, and knowledge and skill in safely managing the reactions they evoke, are competencies that define the Art Therapy profession.

Employment Characteristics

Art Therapists work with individuals, couples, families and groups in diverse settings, including hospitals, schools, psychiatric and rehabilitation facilities, community mental health clinics, wellness centers, forensic institutions, crisis centers, senior communities, veteran’s clinics, juvenile facilities, correctional institutions and other community facilities. Art Therapy is integrated in comprehensive treatment plans administered by Art Therapists who can function independently or as part of interdisciplinary teams where Art Therapists complement and inform the work of other medical, mental health, and allied health professionals. 

Educational Programs

Length. Programs are generally 2.5 to 3 years in length, depending on the program design, objectives, prerequisites, and student qualifications. A master’s degree is required for entry-level practice in art therapy.

Prerequisites. Programs require foundational knowledge in studio art and psychology courses. Studio Art content areas include drawing, painting and clay work along with additional areas of media skill. Psychology areas generally include introductory psychology, developmental psychology and abnormal psychology . These areas may be covered as part of the curriculum of accredited programs or required as college-level prerequisites by the program.  

Curriculum. Curricula of accredited programs include courses covering, but are not limited to, theories of art therapy, counseling, and psychotherapy; ethics and standards of practice; assessment and evaluation; individual, group, and family art therapy techniques; human and creative development; multicultural issues; research methods; and internship experiences in clinical, community, and/or other settings.

Certification/Registration

Art Therapy Credentials Board
7 Terrace Way
Greensboro, NC 27403-3660
877-213-2822
email 
   atcbinfo@atcb.org
www.atcb.org

Careers/Curriculum

American Art Therapy Association
4875 Eisenhower Avenue, Suite 240
Alexandria, VA 22304
888-290-0878
email 
 info@arttherapy.org
www.artherapy.org