Healthcare & Medical
Art therapists plan or conduct therapy sessions or programs to improve clients' physical, cognitive, or emotional well-being.
What does an Art Therapist do?
Art therapists plan or conduct therapy sessions or programs to improve clients' physical, cognitive, or emotional well-being. Art therapists may use visual art-making, drama, or dance/movement as forms of psychotherapy. Art therapists may also be called Arts Therapist, Drama Therapist, Music Therapist or Dance Movement Psychotherapist.
As an art therapist, you would encourage clients to experiment with techniques and materials to help them:
- gain greater awareness of their feelings
- express themselves
- work through their emotions
- come to terms with difficult times in their lives
- move on in a positive way.
You would not teach art, drama or movement and your clients would not need any of these skills.
You could hold group or one-to-one sessions with your clients. These could include children or adults who:
- have learning disabilities
- have emotional, behavioural or mental health problems
- have speech and language difficulties
- are recovering from addiction, injury or illness.
You would work closely with other healthcare professionals, such as psychologists, nurses, social workers, occupational therapists and psychiatrists.
Key skills and interests
To become an art therapist, you would need:
- experience of working in an appropriate field of the arts
- a non-judgmental attitude
- the ability to relate to people from all backgrounds
- a strong interest or background in psychology
- creativity, intuition and imagination
- the ability to handle sensitive and difficult issues.
Working hours and conditions
Your normal working hours would be Monday to Friday, although some jobs may involve evening or weekend sessions. Part-time and freelance (self-employed) work is common.
You could work in a variety of locations such as schools, hospitals, prisons and day centres. This would depend on the client group that you are working with. You may need to travel between different locations during your working day.
How to become an Art Therapist?
Entry Level Education
To become an art therapist you usually have to study, counselling, psychology, nursing, social science or a related field at university, followed by a postgraduate qualification in art therapy and 750 hours of supervised field experience on a clinical placement. To get into the degree courses you usually need to gain your senior secondary school certificate or equivalent. Entry to postgraduate courses usually requires completion of an appropriate bachelor degree.
The postgraduate course must be recognised by the Australian and New Zealand Arts Therapy Association (ANZATA).
Before undertaking clinical placements required by courses, you must obtain a National Police Certificate and a Provide First Aid Certificate. Depending on the State in which you are employed, you may be required to undergo additional employment screening assessments through the relevant State Government department. If you are working with children, you would be required to complete the equivalent of a Working with Children check or disability services employment screening.
In order to practise, art therapists must be registered with ANZACATA.
Employment of art therapists is projected to grow about as fast as the average for all occupations.
Therapy is a growing area generally, and this growth will provide opportunities for therapists of all types, including art therapists.