Earn an online masters degree to become an art therapist

posted on Thursday, Jun 28 2012

Individuals with a desire to express themselves artistically while helping people may want to consider enrolling in an online bachelors degree program to become an art therapist. This field can be incredibly rewarding, and is becoming an increasingly accepted and needed therapeutic practice.

Art therapy is the process of using artistic techniques such as drawing, painting and sculpting to help patients and individuals cope with physical or emotional discomfort. This therapeutic practice is used to treat a variety of conditions, from post-traumatic stress disorder in armed forces veterans to Alzheimer’s disease in older people. Any form of artistic expression can be adapted for therapeutic purposes, and many professionals believe that art can be a powerful aid in the healing process.

Earning an online bachelors degree in art could be a logical first step for individuals who wish to pursue careers as art therapists. A solid understanding of concepts such as color theory, composition and form may be useful to art therapy professionals. Upon completion of their undergraduate qualification, many art therapists choose to specialize their education by enrolling in online masters degree programs in a specific field, such as health arts and science, motion and movement therapy, or music. Individuals who want to become art therapists can enroll in these specialist courses to tailor their academic experience to match their personal career goals.

Practitioners of art therapy utilize a series of assessments and evaluation tools to gauge how successful art therapy is for their patients. One of these is the Diagnostic Drawing Series. Patients are asked to draw pictures using chalk or crayons on large sheets of paper, and the images they create can provide mental health professionals with an indication of their progress.

Another technique used by art therapists include the Mandala Assessment Research Instrument. In this evaluation, patients are asked to select a card from a deck of various mandalas - images contained within geometric shapes - before drawing the image they selected. During their creative process, patients are asked about the significance of their pictures, and how they feel about the mandala they chose.

The art degree programs offered by many online colleges could be a starting point toward a career path in art therapy. Individuals who want to become licensed art therapists should be aware that additional graduate-level qualifications, such as an online masters degree, will be required by most healthcare organizations.

Ask An Expert: Real Questions, Expert Answers

Ask your Question