You may have read or heard about an interesting profession within the human service industry where art, media and creativity is utilized as a form of therapy for emotional and behavioral issues. If this sounds like a profession that you would find greatly rewarding, you may have looked into enrolling in an art therapy graduate program for further training. Before you begin the application process for one of these programs, there is a few things you should consider, first.
What Is Art Therapy?
Before applying to various art therapy graduate programs, you should have a clear understanding of the profession you are training for. Art therapy is technique used to promote human health and recovery. It utilizes the human creative process as a means for self-expression with a focus on communicating, healing and exploring human emotion and behavior. Art therapy is a creative and unique take on treating individuals who are experiencing emotional, behavioral, psychological, social and developmental problems.
From Art Studio To A Clinical Setting
Course work for a master’s degree in art therapy typically revolves around the artistic and psychological aspects of the art therapist profession. Students will be educated on the main theories and practices of art therapy and the power of creativity for healing and nurturing a person’s psychological development. In an art therapy graduate program, you can expect to find yourself learning in an art studio for one course, then engaging in clinical work for another course. In other words, the course curriculum for a master’s in art therapy can be broken down into two levels:
- Courses within the classroom and art studio, which allow students to grasp the nature of their own creativity and its transference within a clinical setting.
- Courses within a clinical setting where students can gain hands-on experience while observing trained art therapists working with patients.
Art Therapy Schools
Most art therapy graduate programs are offered by private colleges and universities. When choosing an appropriate school, there are several things you need to consider:
- What is the cost of tuition? Since you’re more likely to find these programs at a private institution, the cost of tuition can be considerably high, with limited opportunities for scholarships or other forms of financial aid. This is one of the primary hurdles for those seeking to enter the art therapy field.
- What are the degrees being offered? Many schools that offer a master’s in art therapy offer numerous titles that can fall under the art therapy field. For example, some schools may offer a master’s in art therapy, and a master’s in art therapy counseling. Similar degree titles include master’s in art education, master’s in art therapy and special education, master’s in dance and movement therapy, and master’s in creative arts therapies. All of these degree titles can be very confusing, so it is important to understand what particular field of art therapy you wish to specialize in for your desired career path.
- Is the school’s art therapy program accredited? The American Art Therapy Association (AATA) is one of the most recognized organizations that provide accreditation to schools offering art therapy programs. The top schools in art therapy will always provide information on their accreditation to inform potential students that they education they will be receiving meets a certain set of standards and professional competence.
Future employers will also require you to hold a registered art therapist (ATR) credential, or an ATR credential with board certification (ATR-BC). These credentials are offered by the Art Therapy Credentials Board (ATCB), which require potential candidates to have a master’s level education that falls under a mental health related field with art therapy as a part of its core curriculum. The ATCB also requires supervised, post-education clinical experience to obtain an ATR credential. While a master’s degree in a mental health related field that does not focus on art therapy, but includes art therapy courses as part of its core curriculum can make a person eligible to receive an ATR credential, choosing the correct graduate program will affect the career opportunities available to you. If you desire a career as a registered art therapist, you should look for a graduate program that specializes in art therapy.