What is Art Therapy?
Art therapy is a mental health modality that involves the use of various creative therapies and counselling to help individuals resolve mental health issues that are hindering them from living their lives to the fullest. An art therapist assists their client by guiding them through different art media and providing them with different art supplies to express what they find difficult to convey in words.
A wide variety of art therapy interventions are used by mental health professionals who employ art therapy in their treatment plans. These include:
- Music therapy
- Dance or movement therapy
- Sculpting with clay
- Drama therapy
... and many other art forms.
All of these can help manage an array of physical, mental and emotional issues, as well as lead to self-discovery and confidence.
Why Study Art Therapy?
As a form of artistic expression, making art is in itself therapeutic, as it allows a person to address issues that may manifest as symptoms of an illness. Working as an art therapist allows you to help your clients process and acknowledge painful issues that hamper them from moving forward with their lives and ultimately find meaning in their lives through their creative expression.
What's more, studying this modality allows you to rediscover yourself and tap into hidden talents or abilities, which you never thought you had.
The following steps are involved in the art therapy healing process:
- Defining the objectives of art therapy sessions
- Adapting art therapy techniques to a client's specific goals
- Observing the efficacy of art therapy in individuals with cognitive or emotional challenges
- Providing clients with written feedback on their progress
What Does It Take to Study Art Therapy or Become a Practitioner of It?
Being an art therapist does not require astounding artistic skills or an eye for art; just a genuine interest in helping people feel better and happier will greatly contribute to an individual's therapeutic process.
An art therapist has a caring demeanour, excellent communication skills, and great interpersonal skills that allow them to build rapport with their clients instantly. They always look out for the welfare of others. They are naturally friendly, empathetic and uncritical, and they have excellent listening skills. Their open-mindedness is essential to their success in school and at work.
Course and Study Options for Art Therapy
Some people may enrol in a short art therapy course for personal reasons or to help a family member or friend who is going through a difficult time. Others would pursue a diploma or degree in art therapy in the hopes of establishing a rewarding career in which they can assist more people who are feeling stuck in their lives. Those who fall in the second category are dedicated healers whose hunger for knowledge is insatiable.
To be a qualified art therapist, you have to take a bachelor's degree in arts therapy, counselling psychology, or a similar course, and then complete a postgraduate program that is recognised by the Australian, New Zealand and Asian Creative Arts Therapies Association (ANZACATA).
You can take an art therapy course on-campus, online or combine both learning formats in a blended platform to maximise your experience as a student. Many schools that offer courses in the field of art therapy provide their students with several options, including evening and weekend classes, to ensure that they achieve their personal and professional goals.
How to Choose a School or Course in Art Therapy
All of your decisions concerning your education should be aligned with your goal, whether it's to start your own art therapy practice or to incorporate the modality into your core service. Consider a college or university whose curriculum meets the requirements of the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) and professional organisations that represent registered art therapists if you want to become an accredited art therapist. Such schools go beyond teaching the theory and history of art therapy to ensure that their students gain valuable clinical experience.
To find the ideal training ground whose offerings align with your needs, scroll up to the top of this page. Take the time to compare their syllabus, tuition fees and delivery methods. You also want to enquire about available payment plans or student loans to see you through the completion of your studies.