“Art therapy is a mental health profession in which clients, facilitated by the art therapist, use art media, the creative process, and the resulting artwork to explore their feelings, reconcile emotional conflicts, foster self-awareness, manage behavior and addictions, develop social skills, improve reality orientation, reduce anxiety, and increase self-esteem. A goal in art therapy is to improve or restore a client’s function and his or her sense of personal well-being. Art therapy practice requires knowledge of visual art (drawing, painting, sculpture, and other art forms) and the creative process, as well as of human development, psychological, and counseling theories and techniques.”
- American Art Therapy Association 2013
Art therapists can find employment in a variety of areas including senior centers, hospitals, mental health centers, special education programs, veteran services, and in penal institutions.
A master’s degree is required for entry level practice in art therapy from institutions of higher education recognized by regional accreditation bodies approved by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). It is recommended however, that a student complete a PhD in art therapy in order to be fully integrated into the field. Entrance requirements to universities and colleges offering programs in art therapy may vary; therefore it is imperative that students familiarize themselves with the requirements of the school of their choice. Information about the various schools in the USA, as well as Canada, offering a masters in art therapy can be found on the American Art Therapy Association (AATA) webpage: www.arttherapy.org
In addition, students should consider joining the American Art Therapy Association and plan on attending the annual conference (usually in July) between their junior and senior year. This conference offers excellent networking opportunities that will prove invaluable in connecting the student to resources within the healthcare field that can help develop their career. www.arttherapyconference.com
The Pre-Art Therapy emphasis within the Visual Art BA degree prepares students for entry into a graduate program in art therapy. The program combines a studio based major with a Psychology minor.