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 a minimum of 60 semester credit hours of graduate level coursework that includes training in studio art (drawing, painting, sculpture, etc.), the creative process, psychological development, group therapy, art therapy assessment, psychodiagnostics, research methods, and multicultural diversity competence.
Students must also complete 100 hours of supervised practicum, and 600 hours of supervised art therapy clinical internship. 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. 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.
Educational standards for AATA-approved art therapy master’s programs were established in 2007 and are overseen by the Educational Programs Approval Board (EPAB). These educational requirements for EPAB-approved programs remain in place and current or prospective students can review them here.
New 2017 educational standards for accredited art therapy programs have now been established and can be reviewed here. A five-year period of transition is currently under way in which the EPAB-approval process is transitioning to an accreditation process under the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). This process is managed by the Accreditation Council for Art Therapy Education.
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 a master’s program 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 undergraduate and doctoral programs do not undergo an approval or review process through the AATA at this time. A list of available undergraduate 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 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.