Art Therapist Career

What is art therapy? Learn more…

Art therapy is one of many interdisciplinary careers within the health care sector.. Art therapy uses art and creative expression for the purpose of clinical assessment and treatment. It’s a unique form of treatment therapy for patients with medical, social, developmental, or psychological impairment. Art therapists are trained in both art and therapy. They usually work in a clinical practice, but could also work in shelters, prisons, community mental health centers, hospitals, nursing homes, or schools. The profession began with the treatment of children, but the field has grown and immensely and now art therapists often work with people of all ages and walks of life, or can treat couples, families, or conduct group therapy. They can employ a variety of art media, including drawing, sculpture, or painting to assess and treat their patients.

Education and training requirements

Like other mental health counselors or therapists, art therapists must have at minimum a master’s degree. You can pursue a master’s degree in art therapy, or in counseling with a focus on art therapy. Coursework will depend on the program and can be broad, but will generally cover topics like techniques in art therapy, group and family therapy, historical development of art therapies, as well as traditional counseling training.

Registered Art Therapist (ATR) Criteria

The American Art Therapy Association (AATA) establishes the national standards for career and certifying requirements. If you meet the credentials of the Art Therapy Credentials Board (ATCB), which includes earning a master’s degree and some work experience, you can become a registered art therapist (ATR). For the registered art therapist, the ATCB offers certification as well (ATR-BC). Certification is voluntary but demonstrates that you are in good standing with the ATCB. Certification requires passing the Art Therapy Credentials Board Examination, as well as regular maintenance through continuing education. Certification also needs to be maintained every five years by demonstrating a minimum of one hundred hours of continuing education.

More on Art Therapist Certification and Registration

Legal requirements vary by state. Art therapists go through a licensing process in some states. Whatever the legal requirements in your jurisdiction, you’ll want to have some type of credentialing. Professional certification is available through the Art Therapy Credentials Board. The process involves completing your education, obtaining professional references, and taking an exam.

The first step in the process is registration. In order to use the title Registered Art Therapist (ATR), you will need to show evidence of a master’s level education and post-education clinical hours. Once you have achieved this status, you can pursue board certification. After your qualifications have been approved, you will take a certifying exam. Passing this exam will earn you the more prestigious title Board Certified Art Therapist (ATR-BC).

The exam is given once a year. In 2011, it was given at the conference in DC and simultaneously in several other cities. Generally, applicants who want to test at a different time must pay an additional $300. There are some exceptions (for example, if the exam day is unacceptable for religious reasons).
Passing the exam is just the beginning; art therapists are lifelong learners. You will need to earn 100 CECs during each five year recertification period to maintain your credential.

As art therapy is more widely used across various settings in clinical practice, questions arise when it comes to reimbursement by third party payors such as Medicare. If this is of interest to you, you may wish to read about art therapist licensure in more detail. Down the road, licensure is something worth exploring further if you are interested in the possibility of easing the burden of meeting legal requirements for reimbursement for art therapy in many staes in the furture.

According to the American Medical Association, the average salary of an art therapist ranges from $30,000 to $50,000, and can reach upwards of $149,000. If you are interested in studying psychology or pursuing a career in therapy, consider this unique and creative career path. You can help patients with emotional or psychological issues cope through a process of creativity and self-discovery. It is a field that is projected to grow, and can take many directions.

To learn more about becoming an Art Therapist, you can contact schools that offer related art therapy or counseling programs. Another option to learn more about this career is to read the career plan discussion on becoming an art therapist. If you are still trying to determine just what the right career choice is, take some time to explore additional careers in health care.