Art therapy courses are usually graduate level courses that allow the student to learn a variety of skills needed to use art to treat patients. Course offerings are usually in person, and online art therapy courses may be difficult to find. The profession of art therapy is usually subject to national and regional regulation. Art therapists may also take advantage of continuing education opportunities.
Graduate schools offer courses that cover the knowledge therapists may need to successfully treat patients. Many programs begin with foundation level courses. These allow students to develop a basic understanding needed for future art therapy courses.
Skills in working with various art media is also important in this field. Studio arts will be frequently offered to ensure the therapist has sufficient artistic skills. A thorough knowledge of the history of art therapy, along with art theory, criticism, and supervision are also important to the profession, and so many programs offer art therapy course in these topics.
Along with art skills, therapists must become versed in therapeutic assessment as well as counseling theories and techniques as a part of their art therapy training. Courses geared to the special needs of children, adolescents, and adults are common. Family counseling may be another specialty, as is training on using art therapy for grief and loss. Many graduate programs require clinical practice through the completion of an internship.
Some students may be interested in an expressive art therapy career. Expressive art therapy involves using additional creative activities, such as writing, dance, and music. It focuses on the process rather than the art produced. These students may be required to take classes that pertain to these activities.
Therapists should also understand the business aspects of their professions, and should be adequately trained in professional ethics. Some programs allow the student to branch out by offering art therapy classes on advanced topics. These topics are usually of the student’s choice.
Students will want to understand the national and regional requirements for practice. They may need to ensure they take courses from an accredited art therapy program. Arts therapy degrees are often an advanced-level degree. Therapists frequently have degrees in psychology, psychotherapy, or may be artists, teachers, or social workers. Each graduate program may have varying prerequisites for admission to its art therapy courses.
The field offers opportunities for continuing education for someone with a degree in art therapy. Art therapy colleges and trade organizations may offer conferences and workshops. These often cover topics that are of current concern to the profession.