Art Therapy Careers for Art Department Graduates

Many students are interested in combining their desire to make art and their desire to help others through a career as an Art Therapist. Usually these students pursue at the undergraduate level a BA in Art with a minor in Psychology or the reverse- a BS in Psychology with a minor in Studio Art.

The coursework in either of these academic programs will prepare students for admission to a graduate program in art therapy. Most graduate programs have an undergraduate G.P.A. requirement, so it is important to do your best, particularly in your art and psychology classes. In order to be admitted, graduate programs expect you to have a wide breadth of experience in art media and processes and may expect you to submit a portfolio as part of your application. Many programs require that you take Abnormal Psychology and Psychology of Human Development during your undergraduate coursework. Graduate programs then focus on teaching art therapeutic techniques and include important supervised practicums and clinical internships that are not a part of your undergraduate training.

There is excellent information about the art therapy profession at The American Art Therapy Association.

In the State of Colorado, the only program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs is an M.A. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling with a concentration in Transpersonal Art Therapy at Naropa University. (Please note that this program is not accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs, or CACREP, which may make it difficult for graduates to become licensed therapists in certain states.) Checking out their website and websites from additional graduate programs will help you decide whether this is a path you want to take and how to prepare. Here are a few random programs we have found, but there are many across the country. Some programs are online or low residency. Inclusion on our website is for informational purposes only and is in no way an endorsement of these programs.

If you are not interested in pursuing a graduate degree to become a licensed and certified Art Therapist, there may still be avenues for you to pursue teaching art workshops in environments such as nursing homes and hospital outreach programs. It is important that you not represent yourself as a professional Art Therapist in those situations, but perhaps you network with certified Art Therapists or other professionals in the health professions and non-profits and see where your services can be utilized.

Looking over the shoulder of a student painting on an easel.