Complete Guide on How to Become an Art Therapist

This post is generally centred on how to become an Art Therapist, hence we aim to put you through on step by step guide on how to become an Art Therapist. In this post, you will learn what Art therapy is, who an art therapist is, what an art therapist does, possible career opportunities for an art therapist, what are required to become an art therapist and so much more.

What is Art Therapy?

The value of art to the human mind is inestimable and as such, many people use works of art to express feelings. Talking about therapies, art therapy is one area that has beaten imaginations due to the difference it has made in the expression of human feelings. People often look at images, pictures, works of craft and say such things as “this picture speaks volumes”.

In art therapy, people use exciting mediums to bear out their inner emotions. This is why we can say in the affirmation that art therapy is the compendium of artistic expression. Art therapists use the works of art to heal people of their mental health challenges, fatigue and/or depression. Coincidentally, the act of drawing, dying, painting, sculptural designing and many more are embedded in art therapy.

It is practically a way by which people express their innermost feelings through works of art rather than what one sees or touches.

Who is an Art Therapist?

Art therapists are certified professionals who devote their time toward people therapeutically by their creative works of art. This does not really mean that an art therapist basically centres his career on sketching people’s feelings. Hence there is more to it than just drawing and painting. He also offers therapy interventions for the quicker recovery of his patients.

They work across disciplines and professions meeting people from different backgrounds and helping them in their spiritual, mental and emotional growth. Art therapists work hand in hand with health caregivers such as nurses and physicians, psychiatric counsellors, rehabilitation specialists, family/marriage therapists and health care administrators. They function as health assistants to determine and carry out the therapeutic aims and objectives of their patients.

What do Art Therapists Do?

Art therapists are trained professionals who use voiceless images/pictures to depict mindful expressions. Their works of creativity through arts are what they use to heal their patients and give them a sense of belonging. They pay close attention to the clients’ feelings deep down, which the clients find difficult to express verbally.

Art therapists on another hand as healthcare assistants work with people (both children and adults) who have traumatic experiences. They also write medical care plans for patients who have been diagnosed and awaiting treatment as well as assess their clients.

The art therapist also makes use of special methods of art such as drawings, sculpture, painting or collage to calm clients down and figure out their phobia as well as their excitement. Hence it is advised to engage in creative activities always as these activities not only have good and positive effects on the human body, but they also reduce stress.

Where do Art Therapists Work?

The art therapist has the potential to work in so many places as he may deem fit. Specialities abound and one can choose where he/she has an interest in. From children to adults or offenders as clients, or in a given health issue such as amnesia, dementia, insomnia, mental health etc. There is also room for private practice for art therapists who do not find a reason to work for someone else.

An art therapist may be opportune to lead a team of other art therapists where he/she oversees their works. In these regards, an Art Therapist can choose to work in any of the under-listed institutions

  • Senior citizens centres
  • Forensic centres
  • Crisis centres
  • Hospital
  • Schools
  • Mentally Retarded/Rehabilitation centres
  • Private practice etc.

Availability of Jobs for Art Therapists

It was projected that by the end of the year 2020, there will be a boom in the art therapy industry which cause a fast growth in the availability of job opportunities for these professionals. It is advised that art therapists who have decided to practise obtain a postgraduate degree in therapy. This will also make waves for better job opportunities as the reasons for postgraduate studies cannot be overemphasized.

Why you should become an Art Therapist

Owing to the newness and unexplored nature of this nature of therapy, art therapy serves as a good venture for people who are undecided about what exactly they should do. This aspect of therapy is up for exploration and it won’t be a bad idea to venture if you venture.

As a result of the fewer participants in this branch of therapy, you can develop yourself as far as becoming a director. With this, you can create your own patterns and make up new services that are capable of combining art therapy. As stated under, the Availability of Jobs for Art Therapists, with a master’s or doctorate, you can go as far as becoming a consultant in art therapy. When you become a consultant, you automatically become a resource person for beginners to run to for clarifications.

Another reason why you should become an Art Therapist is that making art is one thing that brings excitement. If you are such a person that value fun, then art therapy is for you as it gives you room to make your work all fun. If properly administered, then art therapy can go as far as promoting personal goals and curbing concerns in the community.

The field of art therapy is one that gives practitioners room to learn more about peoples’ psychology and emotions and helps them keep a good human relationship with people they come in contact with.

Are Art therapists in high demand?

The possibility of art therapists getting a job has been a major source of discouragement for people who wished to get into art therapy. Nevertheless, these were in early 2000, but as of today, the reverse has become the case. Recently, the demand for art therapists has continuously progressed geometrically and as of 2020, over 5000 jobs were created and filled.

This figure is also expected to continue growing

How much Do Art Therapists Earn?

Based on the state, level of experience, academic qualifications and skill, an Art therapist can earn as much as $70,000 a year. At an entry-level stage, an art therapist can earn as much as $4,000 monthly while experienced personnel can cash in up to $7,000 monthly.

How long does it take to become an Art Therapist?

Getting certified as an art therapist requires substantial time. At the undergraduate level, it requires about 4 years. The master’s level is about 2 years. The PhD takes about 3 years to complete. A practising licence takes about a year or two or more to get.

You can as well get an Art therapy degree online. This is usually within two to five years.

What are the qualifications to become an Art Therapist?

To get a practising license as an art therapist, a master’s degree is necessary. At the same time, you have to complete an internship, which is usually one year or less. Specialties are also available at the undergraduate level. Some of these specialties include:

  • Mental health
  • Art appreciation
  • Counselling

These specialties are what prepare you for postgraduate studies. In order to become an art therapist, you have to possess these qualifications in part or all as the case may be.

  • Bachelors in psychology or Art
  • A master’s degree in Art therapy
  • You must be a registered member of Health and Care Professional Council (HCPC)
  • Be a financially up-to-date member
  • Licensure certificate which will enable you to practice professionally.

How to Start a Career in Art Therapy

To start a career in art therapy, follow the under-listed steps

  1. Get your bachelor’s degree from an accredited University offering Art Therapy, Art, Art History or Psychology.
  2. Proceed to get a Master’s as well in order to get a practising licence and be allowed to practice.
  3. After obtaining a master’s degree, proceed to register and take the licensure exam. This will qualify you to fully practice in public health capacity. Getting licensed to practice is a more guaranteed route to better employment opportunities. It is also a boost to your CV.
  4. Make out time to register with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). By doing this, you will be enrolled as a health art therapist.
  5. Endeavour to pay for your annual license renewal. By doing this, you indicate that you have decided to practice as an art therapist annually.
  6. It is time to look out for an employer. To practice is to work, hence getting employed is way to remain active in practice. Employment in any of the following institutions is a good way to start.
  • Senior citizens centres
  • Forensic centres
  • Crisis centres
  • Hospital
  • Schools
  • Mentally Retarded/Rehabilitation centres
  • Private practice etc.

How Do I Become a Health Consultant After Studying Health Related Programs


Apart from the above listed and discussed headings, it is important to note that an art therapist must possess certain qualities to be relevant in the profession, namely:

  • An art therapist must be sensitive to his biotic and abiotic environment
  • He must be empathic and at the same time, emotionally stable
  • The art therapist must be tolerable and be patient at all times.
  • An art therapist must be a good listener and observer in order to depict the unspoken words of his clients

Art therapy is an area of study that is worth the time and effort. You can decide to try it out if you haven’t decided already.

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