Art Therapist Career Information, Jobs, Degrees & Training Programs

Everyone must learn how to properly manage anxiety, stress, and emotional problems. Many people prefer to seek alternative therapies, such as art therapy, instead of relying upon traditional methods. Art therapists utilize sculpture, painting, and other forms of artistic expression to assist people struggling with low-self esteem, stress, anxiety, etc.

Job Description

Psychiatrists in the first part of the Twentieth Century became aware that artwork typically reflected the artist's emotions. During the 40's, counselors began using art therapy to assist people struggling with emotional problems. Art therapy has since become a popular way to manage stress and other problems.

Art therapists frequently assist social workers, psychiatrists, and other mental health specialists. In some cases, they lease offices at psychiatric and counseling clinics. Art therapists also establish private practices or work as consultants.

Art therapists assist the following types of people:
  • Children
  • People coping with suicidal thoughts and depression
  • People coping with chronic pain
  • Recovering addicts
  • Senior citizens
  • Adolescents with behavioral problems
  • Battered women and other abuse victims
Art therapists administer therapy at private clinics, hospitals, schools, and community centers. They typically require their patients to create art, discuss it, and relate it to their feelings.

Salary Guide

Art therapists are generally able to find jobs. Factors such as geographic location, specialties, and prior work experience affect earnings. Most entry-level salaries for art therapists exceed $30,000 annually. Median annual salaries for art therapists exceed $40,000. Experienced and talented therapists can earn more than $100 an hour.

Education and Training

Art therapists typically hold master's degrees in art therapy. Prior to professional practice, they are required to complete 1,000 hours of supervised treatment. All art therapists are required to certify with the Art Therapy Credentials Board of the American Art Therapy Association.

Art therapists should be patient, creative, empathetic, and have the ability to identify with people from various ethnic, religious, and cultural backgrounds. Since they utilize art to help others, acquiring basic knowledge of various types of art forms is recommended.

Prior Work Experience

Teaching experience is very useful for aspiring art therapists. It's also beneficial to volunteer at a social services center, psychiatric clinic, hospital, or community center. It's not necessary to come from a therapy or art background to become an art therapist.

Career Advancement

Art therapists typically advance their careers by opening a private clinic, establishing a large clientele, or obtaining an administration job at a hospital. Many art therapists obtain clinical experience before earning a doctorate degree in art therapy.

Related Associations and Groups

Contact the following organizations for additional information about art therapy careers:
  • American Art Therapy Association
  • Arts in Therapy International Alliance
  • Arts in Therapy Network
  • National Coalition of Creative Arts Therapies
  • Society for the Arts in Healthcare

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