A profession in art therapy is a great choice for those who want to combine their love of the fine arts with their desire to assist others.
In order to help people of all ages, genders, and ethnicities manage a variety of mental health illnesses, such as anxiety, depression, substance use disorders, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), art therapists work with them.
Most undergraduate and graduate art therapy programs will require a solid background in psychology and studio art training.
The foundation of an art therapy curriculum is student-led research and fieldwork, which gives aspiring art therapists the chance to work at institutions including schools, juvenile detention facilities, psychiatric hospitals, and other businesses that cater to a variety of social service needs.
You need to have a license to practice as an art therapist, and each state has different criteria.
Before applying to graduate programs, it is crucial to understand the particular requirements mentioned in the state where you desire to practice art therapy.
As a profession and form of therapy, art therapy is becoming more and more well-liked. After college, an entry-level art therapist might anticipate earning between $40,000 and $50,000 annually; of course, salary ranges vary depending on location.
Here are the top 10 art therapy Schools in the US These institutions were picked because, according to online publications like College Factual and Universities.com, they consistently have one of the best art therapy programs.
The 10 Best Art Therapy Schools in the US
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New York University (New York, NY)
The art therapy MA program at NYU touts a 100% post-graduation employment placement and graduation record.
The 60-credit program requires students to apply clinical knowledge to a variety of real-world situations, gives them the chance to work with diverse populations who are unable to access support because of social barriers, and culminates in a final project in which students present their own independent research findings to their peers at a conference.
A current illustration of a student research study examines the role that art therapy plays in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease.
According to preliminary findings, patients’ total motor performance and psychological health have significantly improved.
These kinds of projects allow art therapy students to investigate the relationship between using a particular art medium and associated changes in brain function as detected by brain imaging technology.
Students will have more access to art museums, galleries, workshops, and other resources if they live in New York City. The future of art therapy is also a topic of discussion at conferences like the NYU Creative Arts Therapies Consortium, which attract professionals from around the globe.
Drexel University (Philadelphia, PA)
Drexel University, the first higher education institution in the United States to admit art therapy students, offers MA and PhD programs in art therapy and counseling.
To be eligible for licensure as a Pennsylvania Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), students must finish 90 quarter credits of the MA program.
An essential element of the Drexel art therapy MA is field experience. Students might anticipate doing two to three practicums in places including foster care institutions, psychiatric hospitals, and interdisciplinary behavioral health clinics.
Students take online courses all summer long after taking in-person programs from fall through spring, which allows them to participate in fieldwork beyond the Philadelphia area.
Addictions and Recovery Art Therapy Approaches is an illustration of an elective course in art therapy. Participants investigate the use of creative processes to concretize emotions, internal conflict, and motivations in the treatment of eating disorders, addictions, and hoarding behaviors.
Florida State University (Tallahassee, FL)
The art therapy program at FSU is frequently rated as one of the best in the country. You may anticipate a course of study that promotes student chances for research and experiential education whether you seek an MS in art therapy or a Ph.D. in art education (with a specialization in art therapy).
A graduate art therapy cohort typically has between 16 and 20 students, ensuring a 5:1 student to professor ratio.
The MS curriculum includes social justice elements that highlight the disparities that various oppressed populations may experience when trying to get mental health diagnoses and treatment.
Students in the Ph.D. route get committed mentoring in their efforts to close research gaps in the field of art therapy. The Ph.D. program typically lasts four to six years and culminates in a dissertation.
George Washington University (Washington, DC)
The art therapy program at GWU, which was founded in 1971, is unique among comparable programs in that it combines trauma training with internship assignments and international collaborations.
In year two, every graduate student in art therapy completes trauma training and works with real clients at the GW Art Therapy Clinic on a variety of circumstances.
Students are drawn to destinations like Lebanon, Croatia, and Hong Kong by study abroad options because of the abundance of student-led training and research opportunities there.
These programs frequently include a considerable amount of service learning, when students work with varied communities dealing with particular mental health issues.
The combined BA in psychology and brain science and MA in art therapy degree is another intriguing option, allowing undergraduates to finish 12 graduate courses more quickly.
The Andrews Air Force Base Wounded Warriors Program, the Wendt Center for Loss and Healing, and the U.S. Senate Wellness Fair organizers are just a few of the community outreach partners that students will work with regardless of the program they choose to enroll in.
Temple University (Philadelphia, PA)
A BA in art therapy is available from Temple University’s Tyler School of Art and Architecture. Undergraduates at Temple also spend time making their own art installations in addition to practicums in therapeutic settings.
Students are asked to use a variety of resources to tell a tale in response to the concept of “hope” in one example of an interdisciplinary project called Hope Springs.
These are the kinds of projects they might encourage future patients to develop through art therapy. Temple aims to give students insight into how a client perceives various forms of art therapy by giving them creative tasks to complete.
The Tyler School of Art and Architecture at Temple University operates a 250k+ square foot building with plenty of workshop and classroom space, as well as courtyards and meeting rooms that are all ideal for encouraging student collaboration.
Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville (Edwardsville, IL)
At Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville, emphasis is placed on artistic production. The very selective MA in art therapy program here only accepts ten students each fall.
Graduate students acquire exposure to various communities and their mental health issues by working with licensed art therapists in a range of urban, rural, and suburban settings. For instance, practicum experiences happen in juvenile detention facilities, Head Start settings, and educational institutions.
Before working with patients in a therapeutic environment, all graduate students in art therapy go through a first-year review procedure.
Years two and three require 15 to 25 hours a week of on-site work; each student must complete two practica, one with children or teenagers and the other with adults. Graduates from the program will have completed at least 800 hours of clinical practicum work.
School of the Art Institute of Chicago (Chicago, IL)
The MA in art therapy and counseling at SAIC consists of 42 core credits, nine hours of fieldwork, a choice of a three- or six-credit graduate project or a six-hour art therapy thesis.
Students who enroll in a subject like Disability Studies: Reimagining Bodies explore the intersections between disabilities and other social identifiers through participating in diverse disability cultural events, producing multimedia art representations, and more.
Undergraduates can enroll in a variety of introductory-level courses in addition to the MA route.
The institute offers courses like The Creative Process as Art Therapy, in which undergraduates work in studios while comparing Eastern approaches, Jungian methods, and other treatments in an effort to build a crucial “toolbox” for future clients who will consult them for a variety of psychological needs.
Students examine how many cultures use regular rituals and milestones to accomplish physical and mental recovery in another course, such as Ritual and Artmaking in recovery.
Pratt Institute (Brooklyn, NY)
Students have the opportunity to become psychotherapists with a focus on either art or dance movement through the Pratt Institute’s creative arts therapy program.
Each MPS option consists of 60 credits that combine both theoretical and practical art/dance therapy applications. A future therapist who prefers a more varied course of study to a narrow specialization may benefit most from this program.
Graduate students in art therapy typically register in 15-week courses in the autumn and spring semesters, along with internships from September through May.
If scheduling is a problem, there is a low-residency alternative where students are only required to finish fieldwork in the spring semester.
The completion of multidisciplinary research projects in a chosen field of study. In one instance, a graduate student used participants’ saliva samples to gauge participants’ levels of tension using the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory.
The student researcher came to the conclusion that baking (as a therapeutic arts practice) significantly lowers cortisol levels in adult anxiety patients.
University of Indianapolis (Indianapolis, IN)
A course in art therapy is offered by the University of Indianapolis’ MA in mental health counseling.
Students who are accepted must have completed 12 credits of psychology and 18 credits of studio art, with developmental psychology and abnormal psychology acting as prerequisites.
All students complete a practicum and an internship in addition to daytime and nighttime classes.
It is possible to finish the MA in as few as five semesters. Graduate students get practice with techniques including painting, ceramics, and drawing—all of which they might use as therapy methods after becoming certified art therapists.
Pre-art therapy and studio art are additional majors available to undergraduates. In this instance, the program immerses BA candidates in a psychology foundation to prepare them for upcoming field placements in rehabilitation clinics, educational institutions, and outpatient treatment facilities.
Long Island University (Brookville, NY)
Under 25 students are typically allowed to enroll in LIU’s MA in clinical art therapy and counseling, which has a sizable number of international students.
Graduate art therapy students can choose from a list of more than 100 training facilities to participate in internship placements in order to fulfill the 700 hours of required internship experience.
The importance of studio practice, research, grant writing, and an annual social action project is prioritized in a complete art therapy education.
Cohorts of art therapists have recently worked in orphanages in places like Nicaragua, South Korea, and Russia, to name a few.
One of the program’s defining features is the LIU Post Interprofessional Simulation Center. Here, students take part in instructional simulations to develop their abilities, acquire techniques, and gain confidence. To modify debriefing discussions, promote client retention, and build community collaborations, they might use cutting-edge medical equipment and digital technology.