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Art Therapy Certificate and Certification Programs

Majors Overview April 6, 2013

Art therapy is a tool used in psychotherapy and counseling that allows patients to use art to express themselves. Students will have the skills and knowledge necessary to practice art therapy through a certificate program; the program will help graduates qualify for state credentials. Students will earn their certifications in art therapy, if they have some clinical experience and education in art therapy.

Certificate Programs in Art Therapy

Certificate programs in art therapy are intended for mental health professionals who are interested in using the discussion and creation of art for rehabilitation, education, counseling, and psychotherapy. Art therapists employ sculpting, drawing, and painting and other creative outlets to draw out a difficult-to-read or uncommunicative patient. Certificate programs in art therapy are usually offered at the post-master’s level.

Education Requirements

Students who are applying to the certificate programs in art therapy generally earned a doctoral or master degree in a related field, like social work or psychology. Although there are certificate programs that only requires an undergraduate degree for admission, a graduate degree will eventually be required for credentialing in the field. Students who want to prepare themselves for the master’s programs in art therapy should enroll in a post-baccalaureate program, but it will not allow them to have direct entry into the career. A majority of programs require previous coursework, generally including a combination of psychology and art courses. Additionally, colleges and universities usually require applicants to have a strong background in counseling therapy.

Course Topics

Students will gain knowledge of the methods and tools used for therapy through the certificate program in art therapy. Also, certificate program in art therapy will train students how to employ art therapy in various types of clinical settings. Below is a list that outlines popular course topics offered in the art therapy certificate program:

•History and theory of art therapy
•Materials and techniques of art therapy
•Group art therapy
•Employing art therapy with children
•Counseling in art therapy
•Diagnosis and assessment in art therapy

Career Options

Earning a certificate in art therapy will be beneficial for a wide variety of human service professionals. Some students may select to practice art therapy as their primary function; others incorporate it as one of several tools for helping people. Career possibility includes:

•Social worker
•Art therapist

Credentialing Information

A recreational therapy subset, art therapy may be credentialed in either specialty. Each state has their own credential regulations and may include registration and licensure requirements. The NCTRC (National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification) provides voluntary certification to recreational therapists, including the CTRS (Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist) designation for individuals who have a minimum of an undergraduate degree in recreational therapy or enough experience working in the field under a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist (

After completing a post-master’s certificate program in art therapy, it is possible to become a Registered Art Therapist (ATR) through the ATCB (Art Therapy Credentials Board, Inc.). Along with art therapy coursework, Registered Art Therapist registration requires documentation of supervised clinical experience ( Therapists with a Registered Art Therapist certification can later select to obtain a Board Certified Art Therapist (ATR-BC) designation by completing a national exam, which tests an individual’s knowledge of the clinical theories and skills utilized in art therapy practice. In addition, board-certified art therapists will have the opportunity to become ATCS (Art Therapy Certified Supervisors) through the Art Therapy Credentials Board.

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