Art Therapist


Art Therapist is one of the Top Ten Hot Jobs of 2007, according to AOL’s popular website.

Art therapy is an established mental health profession that uses the creative process of art making to improve and enhance the physical, mental and emotional well-being of people at all ages. It is based on the belief that the creative process involved in artistic self-expression helps people to resolve conflicts and problems, develop interpersonal skills, manage behavior, reduce stress, increase self-esteem and self-awareness, and achieve insight.

Art therapy integrates the fields of human development, visual arts, and the creative process with models of counseling and psychotherapy. Art therapy is used with children, adolescents, adults, older adults, groups, and families to assess and treat:

  • anxiety, depression, and other mental/emotional problems
  • mental illness
  • substance abuse and other addictions
  • family and relationship issues
  • abuse and domestic violence
  • social/emotional difficulties related to disability or illness
  • personal trauma, post traumatic stress disorder and loss
  • physical, cognitive, and neurological problems
  • psychosocial difficulties related to medical illness

Some art therapists work as part of a healthcare team that includes physicians, psychologists, nurses, mental health counselors, marriage and family therapists, rehabilitation counselors, social workers, and teachers. Together, they determine and implement a client’s therapeutic goals and objectives. Other art therapists work independently and maintain private practices with children, adolescents, adults, groups, and/or families.

If you’re considering this career, keep in mind that an art therapist needs certain personal qualities – such as sensitivity, empathy, emotional stability, patience, interpersonal skills, insight into human behavior, and an understanding of artistic media. An art therapist must also be an attentive listener and a keen observer. Flexibility and a sense of humor are also invaluable.

You can download, save and print a PDF of this career profile:

Art Therapist September 30, 2010 [PDF 62KB]

For more information about pursuing this career, see the American Art Therapy Association (AATA) website.

Also, here is an additional link: Travel

Working Conditions

Art therapists work in a wide variety of settings — including, to name a few:

  • Hospitals and clinics, both medical and psychiatric
  • Out-patient mental health agencies and day treatment facilities
  • Residential treatment centers
  • Halfway houses
  • Domestic violence and homeless shelters
  • Community agencies and non-profit settings
  • Sheltered workshops
  • Schools, colleges, and universities
  • Correctional facilities
  • Elder care facilities
  • Art studios
  • Private practice