Art therapy encourages self-expression through the medium of art. Art therapists work with clients who may be suffering from a mental or physical illness, have learning difficulties or are recovering from some kind of traumatic experience.
Through the use of various art materials, the client is encouraged to discuss and work through emotional difficulties. This can be done through the use of paper, paint or even clay. Group discussions and creative activities are central to art therapy, although a lot of work may take place on a one-to-one basis.
Art therapists work alongside psychologists and psychotherapists, nurses and social workers. Liaison with these professionals and also the client’s family is an integral part of the therapy.
Working hours are mostly 9am to 5pm, although some flexibility may be required depending on location.
Therapists may be based in a general or specialised hospital or day/community centre. A driving licence can be useful, as travel may be necessary between sites.
As an art therapist you need:
You'll need to be a qualified art teacher, however there are other pathways into this career. Degrees in art, design, nursing, psychology and social work are all acceptable studies that will be useful in this line of work.
You will need to complete a postgraduate course that is approved by the British Association of Art Therapists and will also need clearance from the Disclosure and Barring Service.
Paid or voluntary work is also valued. This can take place within mental health, education, social services or working with people who have special needs.
Most art therapists work within the NHS or local authority social services departments. However, there are opportunities within the private healthcare sector, voluntary sector, with drug and alcohol services, and the prison service. With experience it may be possible to progress to senior grades or train in supervision.
Sessional work is frequently available.
If you're interested in helping people through this creative form and would like to learn more about becoming an art therapisat that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.
British Association of Arts Therapists (BAAT)
24-27 White Lion Street
Tel: 020 7686 4216
Health Professional Council (HPC)
184 Kennington Park Road
Tel: 020 7582 0866
NHS Learning and Development Service
Tel: 08000 150 850
PO Box 376
Tel: 0845 606 0655