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Best Art Therapy Schools & Colleges: Reviews of Art Therapy Programs

art therapy schools

Art therapy schools are popping up everywhere. Learn what the best art therapy programs are, what courses you’ll take in an art therapy college, & career salary.

The purposes of art have always been in a state of flux.  In ancient history, art was used as a way to communicate and to preserve the culture and experiences of a group of people.  Art has been used to give life to religion.  Art has been used to communicate an idea.  Art is used to challenge the norm, to upset people, to comfort people, and to inspire people.  Today, we are just beginning to scratch the surface of the power art holds over the human psyche.  As leading artists and scientists studied the effects of art on the mind of both children and adults, the field of art therapy was born.

Art therapy comes in many different forms and is used for as many differing purposes.  Scientists have proven that exposure to art or participation in artistic endeavors can assist those dealing with trauma.  Veterans dealing with post traumatic stress disorder, children suffering through the divorce of their parents, and individuals struggling to accept the death of a loved one can all benefit from exposure to the world of art.  When words fail us, the right side of our brain takes over and compensates by helping us to express our emotions through other means.  A career as an art therapist is a noble and gratifying endeavor for any artist.

Art Therapy Schools and Requirements

All art therapists must attend classes at an accredited university or college that offers courses in art therapy.  A list of these institutions can be found at the American Art Therapy Association’s website on the internet.  These schools have specific and formulaic methods for teaching young artists about art therapy.

Art therapists have all completed a Master’s program in art therapy or a Master’s program in therapy with an emphasis on art therapy.  Undergraduate programs that act as a prerequisite for art therapy Master’s programs range from Bachelor’s degrees in art, psychology, or child development.  A deep appreciation for art is not required but is intrinsically valuable in a successful art therapist.

Art Therapy Courses

The courses one takes in an art therapy program are quite varied.  Individuals will learn about case studies where children and adults have benefited from art.  Students will learn about different art techniques for different life situations.  Students will also study the anatomy and function of the human brain, learning how different colors, pictures, and themes affect the human mind.  Some of the courses an art therapist may take at an accredited university include:

History of Art Therapy: students will learn about the individuals who led the psychological community in accepting art as a legitimate form of therapy.

Theory of Art Therapy: students will discover the specific reasoning and scientific data that proves that art possesses therapeutic effects.

Group Work: students will discover how art therapy can be used in group sessions for greater benefit.

Ethics of Art Therapy: students must learn and abide by the ethical responsibilities of all art therapists.

Art Therapy in Culture: students will learn how different art speaks to different cultures and will learn about the varieties of art in different cultures.

Practical Art: students will learn how different artistic endeavors evoke different responses in individuals.  Students will learn when to ask their patients to paint, sculpt, draw, sing or act.

Art Therapy Salary

In the field of psychology, art therapy is a relatively new branch of science.  The need for art therapists, however, has consistently grown over the past decade and is expected to continue in this growth.  The salary of art therapists can range from $30,000 for a school counselor or school-employed art therapist to over $60,000 for an art therapist with a private practice.

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