How to become a 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 of a 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 a 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. Most universities in Australia offer degrees in these areas. 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. For full details, refer to the entries on the website at www.goodcareersguide.com.au or university handbooks. The postgraduate course must be recognised by the Australian and New Zealand Arts Therapy Association (ANZATA). See their website for an up-to-date list.

Duties & Tasks of a Art Therapist

Art therapists may perform the following tasks:

  • 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.

Working conditions for a 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.

Employment Opportunities for a Art Therapist

Art therapists are employed in public and private hospitals, 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.

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.
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