BECOMING AN ART THERAPIST
Art therapists are master’s level clinicians who work with people of all ages across a broad spectrum of practice.
Guided by ethical standards and scope of practice, their education and supervised training prepares them for culturally proficient work with diverse populations in a variety of settings.
Honoring individuals’ values and beliefs, art therapists work with people who are challenged with medical and mental health problems, as well as individuals seeking emotional, creative, and spiritual growth.
WHAT KIND OF EDUCATION DO I NEED TO BECOME AN ART THERAPIST?
A master’s degree is necessary for entry-level practice in Art Therapy. The educational standards require graduate level coursework that includes training in the creative process, psychological development, group therapy, art therapy assessment, psychodiagnostics, research methods, and multicultural diversity competence. Students must also complete, at minimum, 100 hours of supervised practicum, and 600 hours of supervised art therapy clinical internship. In addition, preparatory training in studio art (drawing, painting, clay, etc.) and foundational areas of study in psychology are required in advance of graduate studies. The art therapy graduate curriculum is uniquely guided by the premise that focused art-making constitutes reflective practice and facilitates learning.
WHERE CAN I FIND A MASTER’S LEVEL ART THERAPY PROGRAM WHERE I LIVE?
There are master’s level art therapy programs located across the United States and in Canada. Review our list of approved art therapy master’s programs to find one in your area. .
HOW DO I KNOW IF AN EDUCATION PROGRAM IS A QUALITY PROGRAM?
High quality art therapy programs prepare their students for entry level skills and post-graduate certification as an art therapist. Quality programs also undergo a rigorous annual review process which ensures their resources, curriculum, faculty and policies are prepared to meet your learning needs. A period of transition in regards to these review processes is currently under way for Art Therapy programs. Educational standards which had been established by the American Art Therapy Association are transitioning to being managed by the Accreditation Council for Art Therapy Education, which is overseen by the Commission on the Accreditation of Allied Health Education programs (CAAHEP).
WILL MY EDUCATIONAL PROGRAM PREPARE ME TO BECOME A BOARD-CERTIFIED ART THERAPIST?
Graduation from either a master’s program approved by the Educational Programs Approval Board (EPAB) or accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) will fully prepare you to meet the education requirements necessary to go on to seek board certification through the Art Therapy Credentials Board. .
WHAT KIND OF COURSEWORK SHOULD I EXPECT TO COMPLETE IN ORDER TO PURSUE ART THERAPY?
Art therapy practice requires knowledge of and skills in usage of visual art (drawing, painting, sculpture, and other art forms) and the creative process, coupled with application of theories and techniques of human development, psychology, and counseling. .
ARE THERE ANY UNDERGRADUATE DEGREES IN ART THERAPY?
Yes, though it is important to note that a minimum of a master’s degree is the entry-level for art therapy. Undergraduate pre-professional majors and Art Therapy doctoral programs do not undergo an approval or review process through the AATA at this time. A list of available undergraduate majors and doctoral programs are available here. Inclusion of a program on this list is not indicative of an endorsement by the AATA but is offered for information purposes. .
WHAT DO I NEED TO COMPLETE AFTER I GRADUATE?
Individuals who graduate with their master’s degree in art therapy can pursue further national credentialing and licensure (depending on the state of practice). Visit our Credentialing and Licensure page to review the requirements for each, and the differences between the two.