Art therapists guide patients or clients in the production of visual art to help manage emotions and anxieties. This mental health profession requires a broad knowledge of art techniques and media as well as psychology and counseling practices. It rose to prominence in the 1940s, when therapists became interested in combining ideas developed in the field of psychoanalysis with with concepts then current in visual art. The professional organization for the profession, the American Art Therapy Association (A.A.T.A.), was established in 1969.
Research indicates that art therapy can contribute to better health outcomes for patients, including the elderly, children and those under stress or experiencing depression from long-term treatments like chemotherapy.
Schools accredited by the American Art Therapy Association teach a curriculum that prepares students to be either A.A.T.A.-registered or -board certified art therapists, while the National Council for Therapeutic Recreation (N.C.T.R.) offers another widely recognized certification. Each is awarded when the student passes an exam. Art therapy certification also requires an accumulation of clinical or internship hours.
Most states do not require licensing to practice as an art therapist. Among those that do, licensing requirements vary considerably. Hours of internship, clinical hours and the number of credit hours for certain types of classes affect qualification for a license.
Bachelor's Degree in Art Therapy
Some programs offer an art therapy degree at the bachelor's level. While the knowledge gained in earning the bachelor's might prepare students for graduate study, the degree itself adequate neither for accreditation, nor entry-level employment as an art therapist.
Possible jobs for those with an undergraduate degree in art therapy involve community arts.
No undergraduate programs are recognized by the Educational Approval Program Board (E.A.P.B.) of the American Art Therapy Association, the official accreditation agency of the discipline. However, bachelor's programs are often available from art therapy colleges that have an accredited master's program. When offered as part of a dual-degree program, these undergraduate art therapy programs can help bridge students to a master's degree in a shorter period of time than would usually be required.
Master's Degree in Art Therapy
Entry-level jobs in art therapy require a master's degree. The accreditation body of the A.A.T.A. recognizes around 25 art therapy schools that offer master's degrees. It takes around two years to earn this degree.
Students who apply to art therapy master's programs must have earned bachelor's degrees. A certain number of undergraduate credits in studio and psychology classes are generally prerequisites to acceptance. Schools often expect applicants to provide a portfolio of their artwork.
The courses involved in an art therapy master's program include studio classes, classes concerned with the theory of art therapy, and classes in psychology. Acquiring the ability to interpret the work of clients or patients for therapeutic purposes sets art therapy training apart from the experience of a student in a traditional art or psychology program. Classes that teach methods for encountering particular groups, such as teens, seniors, or the disabled, are also part of the curriculum.
A final thesis, exploring in depth some aspect of the practice or theory of art therapy, is required of students in accredited master's programs.
After graduation, a registered art therapist who satisfies any state licensing requirements in effect may fill roles in institutions both large and small.
Ph.D. in Art Therapy
Those who wish to perform research in art therapy, manage other professionals in the field or teach university-level classes may choose to pursue a Ph.D. in art therapy. However, many professionals find that a master's degree is adequate for most research when working under a supervising scientist. Similarly, those with masters' degrees occupy many managerial and teaching roles.
Those few schools that offer a Ph.D. program in art therapy expect that increasing demand for art therapists will, in time, place a greater value on advanced degrees. Often, students who have received a master's in art therapy opt to take their Ph.D. in a different, but related, field. There are also doctoral programs that offer concurrent master's and doctoral degrees.
Coursework for a Ph.D. in art therapy combines clinical practice with many credit hours of research.
Jobs available to graduates with doctoral degrees in art therapy include teaching and administrative positions, as well as the option of establishing an independent practice.
We found 41 schools offering art therapy degree programs in the U.S.
|Adler School of Professional Psychology||Chicago||IL||332|
|Albertus Magnus College||New Haven||CT||2105|
|Anna Maria College||Paxton||MA||1255|
|Barat College||Lake Forest||IL||799|
|Bowling Green State University - Main Campus||Bowling Green||OH||18096|
|Eastern Virginia Medical School||Norfolk||VA||699|
|Emporia State University||Emporia||KS||5616|
|George Washington University||Washington||DC||20527|
|Long Island University - C W Post Campus||Brookville||NY||9627|
|Marian College of Fond Du Lac||Fond Du Lac||WI||2557|
|Mcp Hahnemann University||Philadelphia||PA||2500|
|Mount Mary College||Milwaukee||WI||1246|
|Notre Dame De Namur University||Belmont||CA||1670|
|Pratt Institute - Main||Brooklyn||NY||4272|
|Saint Vincent College||Latrobe||PA||1206|
|School of the Art Institute of Chicago||Chicago||IL||2578|
|Seton Hill University||Greensburg||PA||1706|
|Southern Illinois University Edwardsville||Edwardsville||IL||12193|
|Southwestern College||Santa Fe||NM||90|
|Spring Hill College||Mobile||AL||1484|
|University of Illinois at Chicago||Chicago||IL||24942|
|University of Indianapolis||Indianapolis||IN||3599|
|University of Louisville||Louisville||KY||19771|
|Ursuline College||Pepper Pike||OH||1252|