Getting an art therapy certificate requires a bachelor’s degree or equivalent experience that includes coursework related to studio art and psychology. Acceptance into a master’s degree program for art therapy and the completion of the related core curriculum requirements make up another avenue for obtaining a certificate. In the US, the conditions are established by the Art Therapy Credentials Board (ATCB). Applicants who performed their undergraduate course work at an institution approved by the American Art Therapy Association (AATA) have lower hourly requirements to qualify for a certificate than those who did not graduate from a school certified by the organization.
After an applicant receives his or her art therapy certificate from the ATCB, he or she will be formally recognized as a Registered Art Therapist. Prior to receiving such a distinction, the candidate must satisfy prerequisites typically attained during undergraduate education or comparable art therapy training for those outside of the United States. The applicant must have successfully completed 15 semester hours in studio art and passed 12 semester hours in psychology.
In addition to satisfying the studio art and psychology requirements, an applicant must enroll in a master’s degree program offering art therapy classes. Most master’s degree programs in the United States require an undergraduate degree; some exceptions may apply to foreign applicants, however. The period of study is usually two years.
Successful completion of the coursework and internship components does not fully satisfy the requirements for receiving an art therapy certificate. If a candidate completed the prerequisites for studio art and psychology at an AATA-approved institution, he or she is responsible for an additional 1,000 hours of work directly with patients; 100 of the 1,000 required hours must be observed by a Registered Art Therapist. Candidates who did not do such prerequisites at an AATA-approved institution must have 1,500 hours of direct contact with patients; 150 of the 1,500 required hours must be monitored by a Registered Art Therapist.