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Courses and Schools for Art Therapy

Art therapy school affords students the opportunity to develop fundamental skills to teach and nurture natural artistic abilities in themselves and others. An art therapy degree is an extension of psychiatry and social work that can help people with mental illnesses discover their talents and express themselves in a healthy way. Art therapy programs allow students to develop specific methods of communication, assessment, leadership, and counseling to encourage others to grow and explore their creativity.

Many health care facilities and organizations employ art therapists to help others overcome emotional difficulties and establish healthier lifestyles. People who have experienced emotional disturbances, trauma, or have low self-esteem can all benefit from a variety of art therapy programs offered at health organizations and other institutions that encourage positive growth.

What is an Art Therapy School?

An art therapy school provides specialized courses for teachers, social workers, psychologists, and other human service workers that are interested in understanding new disciplines and modes of communication with their clients. A comprehensive education allows students to learn the fundamental methods of art therapy, and how to encourage the creative process in others. Many emotional difficulties and mental disabilities can be improved with nurturing the creative process and encouraging healthy emotional expression. The goal of the school is to teach health care workers and counselors on how to nurture this attribute in their patients or clients to help them improve their quality of life.

Training allows professionals to adopt new strategies for overcoming developmental, mental, and emotional difficulties in their students or clients. Many social workers, teachers, and counselors gain working knowledge on implementing arts and craft activities into their regular curriculum. Art therapy school programs can also provide the basic knowledge needed for certification.

Art Therapy School Programs and Curriculum

These schools offer a variety of courses tailored towards social workers, counselors, human service professionals, and teachers. The art therapy education programs here are designed to explore new ways to incorporate art and creative expression into their practice, and can serve as a basis for certification in the future.

Common programs and classes include:

  • Art Therapy Methods

  • Foundations of Art Therapy

  • Exploring Self Image Through Art Therapy

  • Understanding and Working with Images

  • The Creative Process in Art Therapy

  • Art Therapy Materials and Projects

  • Group Art Therapy

  • Transformational Aspects of Stories and Art

  • Art Therapy for Trauma Treatment

An art therapy education allows professionals to fine-tune their own curriculum and teaching skills, and introduce new and diverse concepts in their field. Introducing a solid program to clients and patients is a valuable is opportunity for rehabilitation, education, and life improvement.

Art Therapy Degree Information

An art therapy degree can lead to qualification as a professional art therapist after passing a written examination. Recreational therapists are an attractive position within the field, helping individuals with disabilities or emotional illnesses overcoming their difficulties and build confidence and socialization skills instead. The degree specializes in the use of arts and crafts, music, and other creative outlets to help people in both long- and short-term care.

Training and Requirements for Art Therapy Certification

Art therapy certification is a formal qualification that can be pursued after completing the core curriculum as identified by the American Art Therapy Association (AATA) Education Standards. A professional art therapist must have completed a master's degree, or at least 24 units in art therapy coursework in a related field. Certification requirements are outlined by the standards of the Art Therapy Credential Boards and the Registered Art Therapist (ATR) organization. Each prospective therapist must complete at least 1,000 hours of direct client contact after graduation.

Accreditation and Certification of Art Therapy Schools

Art therapy schools and related programs may also be a branch of social work, psychology, and psychiatry degree programs, and accreditation of each school can vary by region. However, the American Art Therapy Association, Inc. (AATA) is responsible for regulating educational, ethical, and professional standards in the field. The Art Therapy Credentials Board (ATCB) is responsible for granting registration as a professional after a comprehensive evaluation process and review of work experience. In order to become a Board Certified art therapist, the ATCB requires all students to pass a written examination, and maintain their credentials with continuing education.

Each State's mental health counselors association may also offer art therapy programs and continuing education courses that can aid with professional development and lifelong learning. The State Board of Education and department of continuing studies can offer skill-enhancing courses to supplement a rewarding career in the field.

Employment Prospects with an Art Therapy Degree

With the rise in healthcare costs and insurance, many art therapy programs are being taken away from hospitals and other health institutions around the country. As a result, the employment of art therapists and recreational therapists is expected to grow slower than average through 2014. Nursing care facilities, mental health centers, and other outpatient settings may employ professionals on a contract basis, and many professionals can choose to open up their own day care center of clinic in order to practice. Median annual earnings of were $32,900 in 2004. Related occupations include:

  • Occupational therapists

  • Counselors

  • Physical therapists

  • Psychiatrists and social workers


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