Art therapist

Alternative titles for this job include Art psychotherapist

Art therapists help people express difficult thoughts and feelings through creative activities.

Average salary (a year)

£26,600 Starter

to

£48,500 Experienced

Typical hours (a week)

37 to 39 variable

You could work

freelance / self-employed managing your own hours

How to become an art therapist

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course

University

You'll need to complete a postgraduate qualification approved by the Health and Care Professions Council.

Full-time postgraduate courses normally take 2 years to complete. Part-time courses take 3 years.

You should have a degree in art or creative therapies to do a postgraduate course.

You may be able to apply if you've got a degree in a related subject, for example psychology, nursing or social work.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • a degree in a relevant subject for postgraduate study

More information

Volunteering and experience

You'll need paid or voluntary experience in community arts projects or youth work, or experience of working with people with disabilities or mental health issues.

You could contact the voluntary services co-ordinator at your local NHS trust for further advice. Do It also has more information on voluntary opportunities.

More information

Registration

Career tips

You could try an introductory or foundation course in art therapy to give you an idea of what the work is like.

Professional and industry bodies

You can join the British Association of Art Therapists for access to professional development and networking opportunities.

Further information

You'll find more details about this career, courses and training through the British Association of Art Therapists and Health Careers.

What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You'll need:

  • counselling skills including active listening and a non-judgemental approach
  • knowledge of psychology
  • customer service skills
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • sensitivity and understanding
  • the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
  • to be flexible and open to change
  • the ability to understand people‚Äôs reactions
  • being able to use a computer terminal or hand-held device may be beneficial for this job.

Restrictions and requirements

You'll need to:

What you'll do

Day-to-day tasks

On a day-to-day basis, you may work with clients who have:

  • learning disabilities
  • emotional, behaviour or mental health problems
  • speech and language difficulties
  • an injury or illness or are recovering from an addiction

You'll help clients to:

  • gain greater awareness of their feelings
  • express themselves
  • work through their emotions
  • come to terms with difficult times in their lives
  • move on in a positive way

Working environment

You could work in a prison, in an NHS or private hospital or at a school.

Your working environment may be emotionally demanding.

Career path and progression

With experience, you could become self-employed and build up your own practice. 

You could also become a senior arts therapist and manage a team of therapists, manage an arts therapy unit, or move into teaching.

Training opportunities

Apprenticeships In England

We can't find any apprenticeship vacancies in England for an art therapist right now.

The Find an apprenticeship service can help you with your search, send alerts when new apprenticeships become available and has advice on how to apply.

Courses In England

BTEC National Diploma in Art and Design

  • Provider: The de Ferrers Academy
  • Start date: 05 September 2019
  • Location: Burton on Trent

BTEC Level 3 Subsidiary Diploma in Art and Design (QCF)

  • Provider: Burton and South Derbyshire College
  • Start date: 02 September 2019
  • Location: Burton on Trent

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