Arts and Humanities in Health/
Art Therapist is one of the Top Ten Hot Jobs of 2007, according to AOL's popular CareerBuilder.com website.
Art therapy is an established mental health profession that uses the creative process of art making to improve and enhance the physical, mental and emotional well-being of people at all ages. It is based on the belief that the creative process involved in artistic self-expression helps people to resolve conflicts and problems, develop interpersonal skills, manage behavior, reduce stress, increase self-esteem and self-awareness, and achieve insight.
Art therapy integrates the fields of human development, visual arts, and the creative process with models of counseling and psychotherapy. Art therapy is used with children, adolescents, adults, older adults, groups, and families to assess and treat:
Some art therapists work as part of a healthcare team that includes physicians, psychologists, nurses, mental health counselors, marriage and family therapists, rehabilitation counselors, social workers, and teachers. Together, they determine and implement a client’s therapeutic goals and objectives. Other art therapists work independently and maintain private practices with children, adolescents, adults, groups, and/or families.
If you’re considering this career, keep in mind that an art therapist needs certain personal qualities – such as sensitivity, empathy, emotional stability, patience, interpersonal skills, insight into human behavior, and an understanding of artistic media. An art therapist must also be an attentive listener and a keen observer. Flexibility and a sense of humor are also invaluable.
You can download, save and print a PDF of this career profile:
Art Therapist September 30, 2010 [PDF 62KB]
For more information about pursuing this career, see the American Art Therapy Association (AATA) website.
Art therapists work in a wide variety of settings -- including, to name a few:
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To become a professional art therapist, you must complete the required core curriculum as outlined in the AATA Education Standards. Entry-level education is a Master’s degree, obtained in one of these ways:
The AATA-approved art therapy programs generally consist of 48 to 60 semester credits (or approximately 18 months to 2 years of fulltime education). The typical curriculum includes:
In addition, each art therapy student must complete a practicum or internship, involving a minimum of 700 hours of supervised art therapy practice, at least half of which must be spent working directly with patients in individual, group, or family formats. There also are opportunities for specialization (i.e., specific patient age groups, practice settings, and types of intervention). Search for schools that provide training for this career.
After receiving a Master's degree in art therapy and after accumulating a required number of supervised hours and submitting professional references attesting to your competency, you may apply to become a registered Art Therapist (ATR) through the Art Therapy Credentials Board (ATCB). After being granted the ATR, you then can sit for the ATR-BC examination. Having the ATR is a prerequisite for the ATR-BC exam, which is offered once a year, at various locations throughout the United States.
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Arts and Humanities in Health
Last updated: March 9, 2014
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