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If you are considering art therapy masters programs, be sure to take into consideration the overall reputation of each program, whether completion of the program will qualify you for professional licensing or other credentials, as well as whether you can afford the financial and time commitment required by the program. Different jurisdictions often have different laws governing the practice of art therapy and may require the completion of a specific sequence of courses that may not be available in all art therapy masters programs.
Art therapy is a form of mental health treatment that encourages clients to create art as part of the psychotherapeutic process. Individuals who serve as art therapists typically have training in both art as well as psychotherapy or counseling psychology. Depending on the jurisdiction in which an art therapist wishes to practice, he may be required to hold at least a master's degree in art therapy or in a mental health discipline. In addition to educational credentials, he may be required to hold certification issued by a recognized certifying body or professional organization. He may also be required to be licensed either as an art therapist or as a mental health professional by the appropriate government agency in the area where he works.
It's a good idea to investigate several different art therapy masters programs before making your choice. Find out about the quality of instruction in each program as well as whether the coursework offered corresponds to your artistic interests and abilities along with your own philosophy of art therapy. For example, if you are particularly gifted in creating and teaching sculpture, you may wish to look at art therapy masters programs taught by faculty who are likewise oriented toward sculpture. Try and find other students in the program who can give you their opinion of the quality of education that they received. You may also want to ask the director of the program about the success its graduates have in finding employment in the art therapy field.
If you plan to work in an area where licensure or certification is required, contact the appropriate certifying or licensing board to find out which art therapy masters programs meet its criteria for credentialing. If you study art therapy at a school that is not approved by a certifying or licensing board, you may find it very difficult to obtain employment in your field without obtaining additional education. If cost or location is a concern, it is wise to get a full outline of all tuition and fees, information about financial aid programs, and information about the area in which the art therapy masters program of your choice operates.
You will want to know whether the program promotes student art-making, whether they are holistic and integrative, and ideally, are they in a place that values, promotes or features a lot of art. Those things make for a more integrated experience in a graduate program in Art Therapy. Also, can you be licensed as a counselor too. Only three states license art therapists as art therapists, so make sure you get a counseling curriculum too.
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