How to become an Art Therapist

Art therapists work with a client or a group of clients to help them address emotional and psychological issues through creative activities such as drawing, painting, sculpting and collage.

Personal requirements for an Art Therapist

  • Interested in people and human behaviour
  • Good problem-solving skills
  • An inquisitive mind
  • Able to maintain confidentiality
  • Patient and perceptive
  • Good oral and written communication skills

Education & Training for an Art Therapist

To become an art therapist you usually have to study art, 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 Certificate of Education. Entry to postgraduate courses usually requires completion of an appropriate bachelor degree. Universities have different prerequisites and some have flexible entry requirements or offer external study. Contact the institutions you are interested in for further information.

Additional information

Before undertaking clinical placements required by courses, students will need to obtain a National Police Certificate, a Provide First Aid Certificate and immunisations, and undergo a Working with Children Check. Contact the institutions you are interested in for more information.In order to practise, art therapists must be registered with ANZATA. To register and become a full member of ANZATA, applicants are required to complete a recognised masters degree in art therapy with a component of 750 supervised clinical hours placement within the mental health area. Once registered with the association, members have reciprocal rights with overseas art therapy associations. Student membership is also available. For more information, visit their website.

Duties & Tasks of an Art Therapist

Art therapists:

  • Conduct therapeutic interviews and provide psychotherapy and counselling
  • Provide assessments to identify the source of problems and determine appropriate treatment
  • Provide follow-up services to groups and individuals for support and evaluation purposes
  • Build relationships with clients to support them in understanding their emotions and behaviours
  • Assess individuals and groups in order to identify their abilities and needs
  • Develop activities that may use painting, sculpting, printing and/or drawing to address a patient's needs and concerns in a safe, nurturing environment
  • Maintain appropriate records of patient progress
  • Provide consultation and information about patient progress
  • Assess, monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of artistic and therapeutic interactions.


  • Consults with other professionals on details of cases and treatment plans.
  • Collects data about clients and assesses their cognitive, behavioural and emotional disorders.
  • Develops, administers and evaluates individual and group treatment programs.
  • Administers and interprets diagnostic tests and formulates plans for treatment.

Employment Opportunities for an Art Therapist

Art therapists work in any area where people require assistance with achieving a better quality of mental health. This includes psychiatric wards, prisons, rehabilitation centres, and drug and alcohol units. Art therapists are employed in non-government organisations and community-based organisations such as welfare centres, aged-care facilities and schools. They are also employed in private practice and in private health clinics.


Art Therapist

Art therapists work with a client or a group of clients to help them address emotional and psychological issues through creative activities such as drawing, painting, sculpting and collage.

  • Average age
    Average age
    49 years
  • Future Growth
    Future Growth
    Very strong
  • Gender Share
    Gender Share
    81% female
  • Average full-time
    Average full-time
    43 hours
  • Weekly Pay
    Weekly Pay
  • Skill level rating
    Skill level rating
    Very high skill
  • Unemployment
    Lower unemployment
  • Full-Time Share
    Full-Time Share
    35% Full-Time
  • Employment Size
    Employment Size
    2,300 workers
  • Employment Size
    Employment by state
    ACT: 1.8%
    NSW: 34.5%
    NT: 0.7%
    QLD: 11.2%
    SA: 5.7%
    TAS: 1.7%
    VIC: 35.7%
    WA: 8.6%
  • Employment Size
    Age brackets
    15-19: 0.3%
    20-24: 6.2%
    25-34: 16.6%
    35-44: 16.9%
    45-54: 22.3%
    55-59: 12.3%
    60-64: 11.6%
    65 and Over: 13.8%
  • Employment Size
    Education level
    Advanced Diploma/Diploma: 7%
    Bachelor degree: 29.9%
    Certificate III/IV: 0.9%
    Post Graduate/Graduate Diploma or Graduate Certificate: 59.2%
    Year 10 and below: 0%
    Year 11: 0%
    Year 12: 3.1%
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