What are the Different Art Therapist Jobs?

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  • Written By: Jennifer Burger
  • Edited By: Lindsay D.
  • Last Modified Date: 08 October 2018
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Art therapists are mental health professionals who use the therapeutic benefits of creating art in combination with traditional counseling methods. They guide their clients in self-expression as way to develop coping techniques, work through problems, become more self-aware, and generally improve mental and physical health. Art therapist jobs can involve working with clients of any age. Some of the settings in which they can be found include hospitals, correction facilities, substance abuse centers, private practice, schools, and community centers.

Most art therapist jobs require having a master's degree, although there are some assistant positions available for individuals with only a bachelor's degree. Schooling includes training in traditional psychological theories, counseling methods, and assessment of mental illness. Students also learn about various art techniques and how to implement them in a therapeutic setting. Some US states have legal requirements for the education of a practicing art therapist.

Hospitals, clinics, and residential care facilities are the biggest employers of art therapists. In these settings, art therapist jobs may involve working as a team with other professionals, including doctors and social workers. They might treat a wide variety of clients or focus on a specific population, such as psychiatric patients, children with chronic illnesses, or the elderly. Art therapy is often provided as a beneficial leisure activity in residential facilities. Sessions can be done one-on-one or by leading a group.


Substance abuse centers are another place where art therapist jobs can be found. Techniques are used to help clients express themselves and become more aware of the underlying issues of their addictions. Clients can also be taught healthy coping mechanisms, including how to develop personal relationships, through the use of art.

Educational institutions of all levels employ art therapists. They are commonly found working with disabled students in special education programs. Creative expression is a very useful tool for counseling with children who have behavioral, social, or learning difficulties. It can help children to open up about traumatic experiences and negative family environments when they don't know how to communicate their feelings verbally. Art therapist jobs in higher education also include teaching and academic research.

In private practice, art therapy is closely related to traditional individual and family counseling. It usually involves working with clients who have mental disorders such as depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, and post-traumatic stress disorder. These art therapists typically offer private sessions, although they may also organize and lead group activities.



Discuss this Article

Post 4

@seag47 – My brother is an art therapist, and his salary increased with his experience. He works for a family counseling practice, and he started out making $30,000 a year.

After five years of working there, his boss decided that it was time for a significant pay raise. He went up to $35,000. His boss also informed him that if he stayed there another five years, it would go up again.

He found out that he can top out at $50,000 a year. That is a pretty amazing salary to me. He gets to do what he loves and help people all day, plus he can look forward to large pay raises in the future.

Post 3

I have been considering pursuing an art therapist career. I have always been very creative, and I want to use my skills somehow at my job. Does anyone know what sort of salary an art therapist can expect to make?

I think it would be great to be able to encourage others to delve into their minds and bring forth art. I know from experience that drawing and painting can be extremely therapeutic, because I went to an art therapist after my sister died.

I kept having horrible nightmares, and I just could not shake the anxiety and depression. The therapist helped me express my fears and sadness through artwork, and after a few sessions, the nightmares stopped. Sometimes, just confronting what is bothering you can make it go away.

Post 2

Artistic expression can be so important for people who are suffering. My grandmother benefited greatly from the art therapist at her nursing home. I think this gave her something to look forward to and a will to live.

I know that she was depressed about being in the home. Her mind wasn't all that sharp, and she had to have physical care, because she could no longer take care of herself.

The art therapist told her to draw whatever she wanted. Her first few drawings were of sad faces, but after awhile, she began drawing things from her youth that made her happy.

She made many paintings of her flower garden and the lake where she once lived, and this activity helped release her endorphins. Her mood improved, and she seemed almost happy again. We have the art therapist to thank for this, because she guided my grandmother in a direction that she knew would improve her condition.

Post 1

The art therapist at my school helped my friend escape a bad situation at home. He never told anyone that his parents were abusing him, because he feared that they would hurt him worse if he told. However, it came out in his art, and the therapist was able to see that.

He had a lot of social problems, and the guidance counselor placed him with the art therapist for help. He drew a picture of his father in red with flames coming out of his mouth, and he depicted his mother cowering in a corner.

This was a definite red flag, but it didn't stop there. He drew another picture of his mother hitting him with a

baseball bat.

The art therapist was able to get him to discuss the artwork, and she used it to motivate a social worker to visit his house. The social worker found evidence of abuse, and the boy was removed from the home.

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