Art therapy students learn to analyze artwork or responses people have
to artwork. They learn to use art to help people with emotional, educational
or social development.
Multi-tasking talents will be essential. Besides their academic work, student
art therapists are expected to do practicum or community placement work.
Practicums require students to observe and work with mental health professionals
A typical day could find you putting in a full eight hours at a psychiatric
clinic or rehab center, complete with staff meetings and patient sessions.
Then you would have classes in the evening. And, of course, you're going to
have to fit your homework into that action-packed day as well.
The most common type of art therapy involves the visual arts, though dance,
music and drama are sometimes used as therapy too.
Anne Weil, an admissions counselor at Naropa University in Colorado, says
her program requires students to complete 30 hours of counseling with
a registered therapist. "We expect them to do their own work on themselves,
before they start counseling other people."
Art therapists are a well-educated bunch. The American Art Therapy Association's
(AATA) education standards require a master's degree.
Kate Weishaar is the coordinator of the art therapy program at Alverno
College in Wisconsin. "Art therapy at the master's degree level is a professional
title regulated by many states," she says.
That means you may have to get a license and register as a professional
art therapist before you can start practicing in your area.
Most master's programs in art therapy have high entrance standards.
Gilda Grossman is the director of an art therapy institute. She says candidates
for the institute's two-year graduate program must have a bachelor's degree,
good grades and a record of volunteer work. "Children, seniors, adults
-- any area is fine."
Art therapy program expenses may include:
- Art supplies
- The cost of producing thesis manuscripts and slides
- Counseling with a registered therapist
Alverno offers a bachelor's degree in art therapy, which is unusual --
master's programs are the norm. According to Weishaar, "Most jobs for persons
with a bachelor's degree in art therapy will be listed under titles such as
activity or recreation therapist, artist, facilitator, etc."
The AATA approves post-secondary programs in this field. A school
doesn't have to be approved by AATA to teach art therapy. However, schools
with approval have met certain quality requirements. So, you may want to ask
the school you're applying to if it's AATA approved.
Occupational Outlook Handbook
For more information related to this field of study, see: Counselors
American Art Therapy Association - Tools & Resources
Check out the resources available
Arts and Healing Network
Resources for artists and therapists working with art
Art Therapy FAQ
Frequently asked questions about art therapy from the AATA