What is Art Therapy?
Art therapy is a form of therapy that allows patients to process and express their emotions through creative processes. These creative processes help patients understand and manage their emotions, improve communication skills and reduce anxiety.
Art therapists use both psychology and art techniques to encourage clients across all age brackets to better express themselves.
Why is Art Therapy helpful?
Art therapists primarily help patients express and address their emotions and restore their mental and physical well-being through art. Here are four reasons why art therapy is helpful:
- Art therapy works as an alternative to conventional counselling techniques as they allow patients to be more expressive through art.
- Art therapy is used to treat patients with trauma and mental disorders or other issues by helping them better understand their emotions.
- Through various forms of art, art therapy encourages people to communicate their feelings and figure out ways to manage them.
- The creative processes adopted in art therapy help in managing anxiety and improving the general well-being of patients.
What skills do you need to succeed in Art Therapy?
To succeed in your career as an Art therapist and help improve your patients’ mental and physical health, you will need to have certain skills. Here are five primary skills needed in Art therapy:
Art therapists use different creative processes to assess and treat people with varying health conditions. To help patients restore their mental well-being through art, Art therapists should have an understanding of various art media. To advance your career as an Art therapist you need to gain as much artistic experience and knowledge as possible.
Art therapists need to develop their emphatic abilities. Empathy allows them to understand and relate to their patients’ experiences and feelings without judgment. Art therapists, like other professionals in therapy, should be able to empathize with their patients to gain their trust and determine the most suitable creative process that will help them better explore their emotions through art.
Strong Communication skills
Art therapists need to have strong social and communication skills to encourage their clients to communicate their feelings comfortably. Excellent communication skills are necessary when building trust and confidence with your clients. As an Art therapist, you must be an attentive listener and a keen observer to make patients feel comfortable in their sessions with you.
Understanding of Psychotherapy
Having knowledge and strength in the different methods of psychotherapy is needed in assessing and interpreting your patients’ creative work. Art therapists use psychotherapy to help their patients understand their emotions and have better control of them.
Critical thinking skills
These skills will help you assess your patients’ needs and guide them through their treatment process. Art therapists need to have critical thinking skills to understand the patients’ thought process as well as underlying messages communicated in their art, make diagnoses and design treatment plans for their patients.
How can you become a certified Art Therapist?
To start a career in Art therapy, you should have a background in the arts and expertise in behavioural sciences. Typically, an entry-level role in art therapy requires at least a Masters degree in the field.
It is strongly recommended that during your undergraduate programme, you take courses in art and psychology to build skills that you will need as an Art therapist.
An Art therapy Masters degree generally runs for 2 years and includes training on group therapy, psychological development, the creative process in art therapy and other advanced courses that will prepare students in becoming certified Art therapists.
In addition to getting a Masters degree, you will be required to complete a clinical internship under specific hours of supervision to prepare you for working with patients in the future. In America, the required hours of supervised practice to complete is at least 700 hours.
Upon completion of your Masters degree and internship programme, you are qualified for certification by the Art Therapy Credentials Board. The Board will then evaluate your educational history to determine if you qualify to practice as a registered Art therapist.
Where do Art Therapists work?
In the previous sections of this article, we discussed what art therapy is, why it is helpful, the skills needed to succeed in Art therapy and how to become a certified Art therapist. At this point, you may be wondering where Art therapists find employment.
Like earlier mentioned, Art therapists are mental health professionals who combine psychology and creative forms of art in treating various psychological conditions. These professionals work with children, adults, groups and families to treat conditions like addiction, anxiety, depression, traumatic disorders, cognitive disorders and even family problems.
Due to the nature of their job, Art therapists often find employment in clinical settings. Places like hospitals, rehabilitation centres, domestic abuse shelters and mental health agencies generally require the services of Art therapists. In these settings, common conditions are; addiction, physical and mental health issues, and depression or trauma disorders.
Art therapists also work with schools, correctional institutions, and eldercare facilities. They may also work in private practice as independent clinicians. In this case, they get to set their working hours and select their clients and other professionals to work with.
How much do Art Therapists earn?
The overall job outlook for Art Therapy has been excellent over the years and the demand for Art therapists is expected to keep increasing because it is a specific field that requires specialized training.
Depending on their experience, location and method of practice, Art therapists tend to earn annual salaries ranging from $34270 – $96160.
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