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How to Choose an Art Therapy School to Suit Your Need

Higher Education Articles November 5, 2012

Art therapy may be defined as a form of counseling technique that graduate and undergraduate students learn during their educational programs. There are several schools offering certificates and graduate degrees in art therapy. Such schools include in their syllabi clinical internships supervised by art therapists armed with vital credentials.

Choosing the Appropriate Art Therapy School

A question that a prospective student seeking quality education can ask is, “is the program accredited?” The American Art Therapy Association gives a list of accredited schools on its website ( An art therapy school applies to the Art Therapy Credentials Board (ATCB) for accreditation and the American Art Therapy Association assists the ATCB in ensuring that the applicant school is imparting proper training and internship experience to students – a primary requirement to be fulfilled by the school before applying for a license.

There are art therapy schools that offer undergraduate courses. However, ATCB accredited courses are only available to post-graduate students who have either completed a master or doctoral level of education.

Psychopathology, abnormal psychology, counseling and psychotherapy, human growth and development, and psychology are the main fields of study required for schools that seek ATCB accreditation.

Such programs may be listed by schools under either family or marital therapy or both.

Supervising art therapists disclose substantial benefit to both art therapy schools and their students alike.

As mentioned, art therapists are a rare breed and they would do well in the internship program offered by the school even before they elect to pursue the program. As a potential student, art therapists should look at the availability of board-certified clinical supervisors who can assist them and help put them in an appropriate internship program.

An Overview of Programs Offered at Art Therapy Schools

Four-Year Bachelor Degree

Students earning a bachelor degree over four years takes the first step in a potential art therapist’s career that should continue with post-graduate studies followed by the award of a license to practice art therapy. A bachelor degree will allow you to pursue a career as a recreational therapist. There are regulations governing recreational therapists in some states and these can vary according to the state.

In 2009, there were four states that required recreational therapists to obtain a license before beginning a career in the field. Recreational therapists can use such (usually voluntary) certification from the National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification.

Master Degree

To earn a master degree program in family and marital therapy; you would need sixty credit hours of study that can typically take about two to three years to complete. Such master degree can be in psychology.

Master degree students need to work with seniors, adults, adolescents and children, and such work must be supervised by a licensed art therapist. Art and psychology fields are the focus areas of classes that can encompass a research thesis paper.

Doctoral Degree

You can study for a Doctoral of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in art therapy provided you must have a master degree along with clinical experience. Research skills are essential in the doctoral program and once students complete the program; they can aspire to become a professor of art therapy or add research as one of their field of knowledge.

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