What is an Art Therapist?

For those who love art and would like to use that medium to help people, art therapy might be a viable career option to consider!

Art therapy is a form of expressive therapy. It uses the creative process of making art to explore and work on a person’s feelings, negative emotions, and behaviours. The creative process of producing artwork helps people resolve stress and anxiety, learn new social skills, and improve self-esteem and awareness.

Art therapists have studied and mastered both psychology and human development, and are trained in both therapy and art. They can help individuals, couples, families, or groups of people regardless of sex, age, or ethnicity.

What does an Art Therapist do?

Art therapists help their clients get involved in the creation of art in order to encourage personal development, increase coping skills, and improve their quality of cognitive function.

An art therapist working with a client.

Other forms of therapy use words or language as a means of communication. However, there are times when humans are incapable of expressing themselves within this limited range. Art therapists are trained to pick up on unspoken symbols and metaphors; concepts that are usually difficult to express with words. Through this process, individuals can really begin to see the results of art therapy and the improvements that can be made in their lives.

Expressive art therapy is a fantastic field that has proven to work wonders in many people’s lives. Art therapists can help people who are struggling with memories or emotions resulting from abuse, combat, cancer, traumatic brain injury, and other health disabilities; and can also help people with anti-social personality, depression, autism, dementia, and other disorders.

Clients do not need to be talented or artistic in order to experience the benefits of art therapy; an art therapist's job is not to teach or critique the artwork. It is their job, however, to delve into the underlying messages portrayed through the art, and use psychotherapeutic counseling techniques to develop personal growth, encourage self-awareness, and teach coping skills.

Are you suited to be an art therapist?

Art therapists have distinct personalities. They tend to be artistic individuals, which means they’re creative, intuitive, sensitive, articulate, and expressive. They are unstructured, original, nonconforming, and innovative. Some of them are also social, meaning they’re kind, generous, cooperative, patient, caring, helpful, empathetic, tactful, and friendly.

Does this sound like you? Take our free career test to find out if art therapist is one of your top career matches.

Take the free test now Learn more

What is the workplace of an Art Therapist like?

Art therapy is a big field, and has been used on a variety of individuals; from young children to the elderly; prisoners to war veterans; and individuals with psychological disorders to physical disabilities.

Art therapists can work in hospitals, rehabilitation care units, clinical research facilities, wellness centres, assisted living centres, psychiatric facilities, detention centres, forensic institutions, crisis centres, senior communities and schools. Their clients can range from single individuals, couples, families, and groups.

Art Therapists are also known as:
Art Psychotherapist Registered Art Therapist Certified Art Therapist