How to Become an Art Therapist in 6 Steps

Art therapists work with every artist regardless of age.

They say that art comes from a dark place. A place that is not heard or seen by anyone else but the artist. If this is true, it must be so overwhelming, and it can eventually take a toll on the artist. But this is not to suggest that a therapist is only limited to the mental health of a person.

I’ll show you why but first things first.

Have you been dreaming of becoming an artist for ages but somehow you have not broken through the glass ceiling? Or perhaps you are an aspiring student wondering how to get to the pie. Whatever your case is, you are reading the right article.

We have put together all you need to know about art therapy. If you are a deep and sensitive thinker, this is even better for you. Here is a list of all that it takes to be an art therapist. Let’s get started without any further ado!

What is an Art Therapist? What Do They Do?

An art therapist is a medically approved person to help artists address their psychological and emotional issues. This can be done in several ways. Through art activities that an artist is inclined to. This can be drawing, painting, carving, among other creative activities that come from a place of talent.

Art therapy can work with anyone for as long as they are an artist. This includes children, elderly people, teenagers, youth, and even persons at the prime of life. Life can become overwhelming for anyone and the only person to coach you through it is a therapist.

This brings us to the big question. How do therapists do their work?

There are so many ways a therapist can treat their patients. They mostly use art therapy during their counseling sessions. There are also other ways like physical rehabilitation, behavior management among others. It all varies from patient to patient and how best they respond to certain methods.

6 Tips on How to Become an Art Therapist

Art therapy is a place where art and psychology meet and marry. If you want to become an art therapist, here are some of the tips you can follow.

1.    Pursue A Bachelor’s Degree

Have you noticed that the road to becoming anything is getting some education qualifications? Art is no exception. In any case, it is one field that you must be willing to dive deep into education. Start by earning a degree in either art education, psychology, or counseling. Either way, you will need both degrees in the long run.

When doing your bachelor’s degree in education, focus mainly on visual arts. This will help you a lot because most of your patients will be well-conversant with this technique.

2.    Do Your Internship

An art therapy intern must work a certain amount of hours during the internship to be fully certified. Find a place where your skills are likely to be sharpened and apply for an internship. You will be responsible for supervising and treating actual patients. Within no time, you will be promoted to a supervisor. An internship helps you to gain the necessary skills and to build your work portfolio. Ensure that you come out with good recommendations.

3.    Build a Portfolio

We have already mentioned that a clinical internship is one of the ways to build your portfolio. There is more. Volunteer in clinics and trauma centers where you are likely to work with artists. Wherever you get a chance to work, demonstrate drive and good skills. Your portfolio should demonstrate to potential employers that you can interpret art with the efficiency of an artist. If possible, have a large body of work in your portfolio. Whatever you can lay your hands on, go for it as this is a sure way to sharpen your skills.

4.    Earn Your Master’s Degree

In this field, a bachelor’s degree is just not enough.

You need advanced courses and fieldwork to break through the thick ceiling. It is not going to be easy, but you will have to put your best foot forward. A master’s degree will prepare you to be certified and licensed as art therapy. It also demonstrates the intensity of your skills and the vast knowledge you possess in this field.

5.    Earn Your Credentials

Ensure that you are certified by the Art Therapy Credentials Board. This is a very important certification before practicing as an art therapist. In fact, without it, all your qualifications are as good as nothing. Get a master’s degree besides your bachelor’s degree. This is the only way the board will approve that you are properly qualified to practice as an art therapist.

6.    Apply for Art Therapy Positions

Once you have your qualifications intact, start applying for jobs. Assuming that your resume and license are in order and your portfolio is up to date, there is no need not to start working. Let everything in your papers be reflective of your art therapy skills. This is very important. Apply for as many jobs as you can and attend all interviews and find out if your potential employers are interesting enough to your career.

Requirements for an Art Therapist

Education alone is not enough for an art therapist. You need so much more. More that can only be found in your character and personality. Here are some of the things you need to possess.

  •         Have a great interest in people’s and human behavior.
  •         Have good problem-solving skills because you will be interpreting art and giving solutions to your patients.
  •         Have an inquisitive mind that always asks why and seeks solutions to the end.
  •         Can maintain confidentiality. Have you heard of doctor-patient confidentiality? That is what I am talking about.
  •         Patient and perceptive- You should be patient with your uncontrollable patients. You should also be able to perceive the change in their character and mood.
  •         You must have good oral skills. Communication skills too are a must-have because you will be interacting a lot with artists.


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