Guidelines for Art Therapy Certification

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Art therapy uses the creative process to help people resolve problems, manage behavior, cope with intense feelings and increase self-esteem. Integrating psychotherapy and counseling with visual art, an art therapist can assess and treat people with a variety of problems.

Art therapy has been found to have a profound effect on people and is used with families and groups as well as children, teens, adults and the elderly population. Some of the issues an art therapist may treat include: anxiety, depression, emotional problems and disorders, substance abuse, difficulties related to disability and illness, trauma and loss.

People who pursue art therapy certification need to have excellent listening skills and a patient demeanor. Just as in regular therapy sessions, observing the patient and making continual assessments is part of the job. Art therapists also must maintain all the proper charts and report on client progress. They may need to work with a team of others, such as psychiatrists and social workers, and could be called upon to provide information and consultation regarding the patient’s progress.

Educational Requirements

The process of obtaining an art therapy certification involves many years of schooling. Certificate programs are open to professionals at the post-master degree level with a strong background in counseling therapy, art and psychology.

Once accepted into the program, a student will take courses in the following areas to train them to employ art therapy in different types of clinical settings.

  • Introduction to art therapy
  • Techniques and materials of art therapy
  • Group art therapy
  • Art therapy with children
  • Cross-cultural art therapy
  • Assessment and diagnosis in art therapy

Continuing Education

Art therapists can apply to become a Registered Art Therapist (ATR) through the Art Therapy Credentials Board, Inc. Documentation of supervised clinical experience is required as well as the completion of the certificate program in art therapy.

An ATR can choose to become a Board-Certified Art Therapist (ATR-BC) by completing a national examination. This tests their understanding of the clinical skills and theories used in an art therapy practice.

Finally, a Board-Certified Art Therapist has the opportunity to apply to receive an Art Therapy Certified Supervisor (ATCS). These additional licensures need to be renewed every 5 years in order to stay current in the field.

Salary Range of an Art Therapist

A professional with an art therapy certification can practice in a wide variety of locations. Art therapists can be employed in hospitals, clinics, educational institutions, business and community agencies or open a private practice.

The salary range of an art therapist varies depending on the type of practice, location and years on the job. On average, an entry-level art therapist earns approximately $32,000, median income between $38,000 and $48,000. Salaried administrators can earn between $50,000 and $80,000 a year.

Art therapists who also hold doctoral degrees or additional licensure, or have opened a private practice can earn on average $85 to $120 per hour.


Art Therapy Credentials Board -

Health Professions Network - Art Therapist -


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