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Information Session: MA in Art Therapy

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Art Therapy?

**"Art Therapy is a human service profession which offers an opportunity to explore personal problems and potentials through verbal and nonverbal expression and to develop physical, emotional and/or learning skills through therapeutic art experiences. Assessment and therapy through art recognizes that the art process, forms, content, and associations are reflections of an individual’s development, abilities, personality, interests and concerns. Art is used as a form of communication or symbolic language, giving external form to internal imagery. The use of art as therapy implies that the natural creative process can be a means of reconciling emotional conflicts and of fostering self-awareness and personal growth. Therefore, anyone can be a candidate for art therapy. Artistic ability is not required."

What is the history of Art Therapy?

**"Although visual expressions have been basic to humanity throughout history, art therapy did not emerge as a distinct profession until the 1930's. At the beginning of the 20th Century, psychiatrists became interested in the art work done by patients, and studied it to see if there was a link between the art and the illness of their patients. At this same time, art educators were discovering that the free and spontaneous art expression of children represented both emotional and symbolic communications. Since then, the profession of art therapy has grown into an effective and important method of communication, assessment, and treatment with many populations."

What are the advantages of Art Therapy?

Through observation and analysis of art making behaviors, art products, and verbal associations, the art therapist formulates diagnostic assessments and treatment plans. Art therapists can provide case management services. Treatment may focus on growth experiences, rehabilitation, psychotherapy, remediation, adaptation and/or personality enhancement. Art therapists respond to the strengths and needs of clients by integrating personal training in art and therapy with knowledge of theories of normal and abnormal behavior and development, visual symbolic expression and intervention methods.

What populations may benefit from Art Therapy?

**"Art therapists work with people of all ages: individuals, couples, families groups and communities. They provide services, individually and as part of clinical teams, in settings that include mental health, rehabilitation, medical and forensic institutions; community outreach programs; wellness centers; schools; nursing homes; corporate structures; open studios and independent practices."

What are the educational requirements?

A master's degree is required for entry into the art therapy profession. Master's level curriculum includes the theory and practice of not only art therapy, but theoretical foundations of individual, family, and group counseling, psychopathology and human development. In addition, the art therapist must complete supervised clinical internships and a master’s thesis. Working under supervision, an art therapist who has met specific educational and professional standards established by the American Art Therapy Association and the Art Therapy Credentials Board is designated a Registered Art Therapist (ATR). Additionally, after passing the Art Therapy Certification Exam, art therapists are designated Board-Certified (ATR-BC).

What are some schools that offer Art Therapy educational programs?

At the present time, the George Washington University is one of approximately 30 accredited universities offering an Art Therapy program of study. For more information you can visit the AATA website.

Where do Art Therapists work?

**"Art therapists work in private offices, art rooms, or meeting rooms in facilities such as: 

hospitals--both medical and psychiatric, out-patient facilities, clinics, residential treatment centers, halfway houses, shelters, schools, correctional facilities, elder care facilities, pain clinics, universities, and art studios. 

The art therapist may work as part of a team which includes physicians, psychologists, nurses, rehabilitation counselors, social workers, and teachers. Together, they determine and implement a client's therapeutic, school, or mental health program. Art therapists also work as primary therapists in private practice."

What is the average salary for an Art Therapist?

In the Mid-Atlantic Region, a competitive entry level income for a full-time position is approximately $38,000 with full-time benefits. The hourly rate of art therapists in private practice in this region ranges from $60 to $120.

**"Earning for art therapists vary geographically depending on the type of practice and job responsibilities. Entry level income is approximately $25,000, median income between $28,000 and $38,000, and top earning potential for salaried administrators ranges between $40,000 and $60,000. Art therapists with doctoral degrees, state licensure, or who qualify in their state to conduct private practice, have an earning potential of $75.00 to $90.00 per hour in private practice. State requirements for private practice vary across the country. Practice rules and regulations are available from state licensing boards."

**The following information is from the American Art Therapy Association website.**