ABOUT ART THERAPY
Art therapy integrates the fields of human development, visual art (drawing, painting, sculpture, and other art forms), 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 the following: anxiety, depression, and other mental and emotional problems and disorders; mental illness; substance abuse and other addictions; family and relationship issues; abuse and domestic violence; social and emotional difficulties related to disability and illness; trauma and loss; physical, cognitive, and neurological problems; and psychosocial difficulties related to medical illness. Art therapy programs are found in a number of settings including hospitals, clinics, public and community agencies, wellness centers, educational institutions, businesses, and private practices.
Art therapists are master's level professionals who hold a degree in art therapy or a related field. Educational requirements include: theories of art therapy, counseling, and psychotherapy; ethics and standards of practice; assessment and evaluation; individual, group, and family techniques; human and creative development; multicultural issues; research methods; and practicum experiences in clinical, community, and/or other settings. Art therapists are skilled in the application of a variety of art modalities (drawing, painting, sculpture, and other media) for assessment and treatment.
Art Therapy is a Master's level Mental Health profession that requires a Master's degree from an accredited art therapy graduate program to practice. Two years of post-graduate supervision resulting in the ATR credentials (Registered Art Therapist) are recognized as entry level credentials in the field. Because the educational requirements and post graduate training of art therapists is commensurate with social workers and professional counselors, Art Therapists are eligible for licensure in many states, including Colorado, where they are licensed as Licensed Professional Counselors.
COMMON QUESTIONS ABOUT ART THERAPY
American Art Therapy Association - http://www.arttherapy.org/
How Did Art Therapy Begin?
Visual expression has been used for healing throughout history, but art therapy did not emerge as a distinct profession until the 1940s. In the early 20th century, psychiatrists became interested in the artwork created by their patients with mental illness. At around the same time, educators were discovering that children's art expressions reflected developmental, emotional, and cognitive growth. By mid-century, hospitals, clinics, and rehabilitation centers increasingly began to include art therapy programs along with traditional "talk therapies," underscoring the recognition that the creative process of art making enhanced recovery, health, and wellness. As a result, the profession of art therapy grew into an effective and important method of communication, assessment, and treatment with children and adults in a variety of settings. Currently, the field of art therapy has gained attention in health-care facilities throughout the United States and within psychiatry, psychology, counseling, education, and the arts. For more detailed information on the history of art therapy, please see AATA's publication list for A History of Art Therapy in the United States.
Where Do Art Therapists Work?
Art therapists work in a wide variety of settings, including, but not limited to, the following:
- Hospitals and clinics, both medical and psychiatric
- Out-patient mental health agencies and day treatment facilities
- Residential treatment centers
- Halfway houses
- Domestic violence and homeless shelters
- Community agencies and non-profit settings
- Sheltered workshops
- Schools, colleges, and universities
- Correctional facilities
- Elder care facilities
- Art studios
- Private practice
An art therapist may work as part of a 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.
What are the Requirements to Become an Art Therapist?
Personal Qualifications: An art therapist must have sensitivity, empathy, emotional stability, patience, interpersonal skills, insight into human behavior, and an understanding of art media. An art therapist must also be an attentive listener and a keen observer. Flexibility and a sense of humor are important in adapting to client needs and work setting.
One must complete the required core curriculum as outlined in the AATA Education Standards to qualify as a professional art therapist. Entry into the profession of art therapy is at the master's level. Graduate level art therapy programs include:
- Master's degree in art therapy.
- Master's degree with an emphasis in art therapy.
- Twenty-four (24) semester units in art therapy coursework with a Master's degree in a related field.
- Contact the AATA National Office for more information concerning current educational requirements and programs.
- AATA - Art Therapy Information
- AATA - Frequently Asked Questions about Art Therapy
- AATA - Educational Credentials
- AATA - Art Therapists Among 10 Hot Jobs for 2007
- AATA - Art Therapy Shows Promise with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
- ABC News - Better Living Through the Arts
- Congress Report - November 29th 2001
- Relieving Symptoms in Cancer - Innovative Use of Art Therapy
- The Art of Therapy
Books on Art Therapy
Jessica Kingsley Publishers: http://www.jkp.com/catalogue/index.php/cat/inter