How to Become an Art Therapist

By The Arty Teacher - December 28, 2021

What is an Art Therapist?

An art therapist is a mental health professional who uses the creative process of making art to help individuals express their thoughts, emotions, and experiences. Through various art forms such as drawing, painting, sculpting, and other artistic activities, art therapists work with people to promote self-exploration, emotional healing, and personal growth. By engaging in the art-making process and discussing their creations with the therapist, clients can better understand their feelings and work through psychological issues.

What Skills does an Art Therapist need?

To become an art therapist, you should have a caring and understanding nature, be a good listener, and use art to help people express their feelings and heal. It’s like using creativity to make people feel better!

What Qualification does an Art Therapist Need?

Qualifications for art therapists typically encompass a combination of education and clinical training*. A master’s degree in art therapy or a related field is a fundamental requirement, providing a deep understanding of both art and psychology. Art therapists also need to complete supervised clinical internships, gaining practical experience in therapeutic settings. Strong interpersonal, communication, and observational skills are crucial, as they facilitate the therapeutic process and client engagement. Additionally, art therapists should possess a thorough knowledge of psychological theories, counseling techniques, and ethical standards. Licensure or certification as an art therapist is often necessary, with specific requirements varying by country/region.

*Clinical training simply means training in a clinic or hospital.

Types of Art Therapist

Art therapy is a diverse field, and art therapists may specialise in various areas based on their interests, skills, and expertise. Some common types of art therapists and specialisations within the field include:

  1. Clinical Art Therapist: Clinical art therapists work in clinical settings, such as hospitals and mental health facilities, helping individuals dealing with psychological or emotional challenges.
  2. Child Art Therapist: Specialising in working with children, child art therapists help young clients express themselves and process emotions through creative activities, often in schools, clinics, or child welfare organisations.
  3. Geriatric Art Therapist: Geriatric art therapists focus on the elderly population, helping seniors with age-related issues, cognitive disorders, or end-of-life care through art therapy.
  4. Trauma Art Therapist: These therapists specialise in working with individuals who have experienced trauma, using art as a therapeutic tool to address trauma-related issues, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
  5. Addiction Art Therapist: Addiction art therapists work with individuals recovering from substance abuse or addiction, using art therapy to help them get better.
  6. Group Art Therapist: Group art therapists run art therapy sessions with more than one person, promoting social interaction and peer support in a therapeutic context.
  7. Art Therapy Supervisor: Art therapy supervisors oversee and help other art therapists, helping them improve their clinical skills and providing guidance in the field.
  8. Art Therapy Researcher: Some art therapists focus on research, studying the effectiveness of art therapy interventions and contributing to the field’s knowledge and development.
  9. Art Therapy Educator: Art therapy educators teach future art therapists in academic or clinical settings, passing on their knowledge and expertise to the next generation of professionals.

These specialisations allow art therapists to tailor their practice to specific client populations or therapeutic needs, making the field of art therapy diverse and adaptable to a range of contexts.

What Next?

Learn more about Art Careers.

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The Arty Teacher

Sarah Crowther is The Arty Teacher. She is a high school art teacher in the North West of England. She strives to share her enthusiasm for art by providing art teachers around the globe with high-quality resources and by sharing her expertise through this blog.

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