Art therapists help people express difficult thoughts and feelings through creative activities.
Salary Range: £31,365 to £45,503
You can get into this job through:
- a university course
- an apprenticeship
You’ll need to complete a postgraduate qualification approved by the Health and Care Professions Council.
Full-time postgraduate courses normally take 2 years to complete. Part-time courses take 3 years.
You should have a degree in art or creative therapies to do a postgraduate course.
You may be able to apply if you’ve got a degree in a related subject, for example psychology, nursing or social work.
You’ll usually need:
- a degree in a relevant subject for postgraduate study
You may be able to do an arts therapist degree apprenticeship.
You’ll usually need a qualification and experience in art, drama or music to apply.
To do this apprenticeship, you’ll need:
- a degree in a relevant subject for a degree apprenticeship
Volunteering and experience
You’ll need paid or voluntary experience in community arts projects or youth work, or experience of working with people with disabilities or mental health issues.
- you’ll need to register with the Health and Care Professions Council
You could try an introductory or foundation course in art therapy to give you an idea of what the work is like.
Professional and industry bodies
You can join the British Association of Art Therapists for access to professional development and networking opportunities.
You can also find out more about working in creative careers from Discover Creative Careers.
Skills and knowledge
- counselling skills including active listening and a non-judgemental approach
- knowledge of psychology
- customer service skills
- patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
- sensitivity and understanding
- the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
- to be flexible and open to change
- the ability to understand people’s reactions
- to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device
Restrictions and requirements
You’ll need to:
- pass enhanced background checks, as you may be working with children and vulnerable adults
On a day-to-day basis, you may work with clients who have:
- learning disabilities
- emotional, behaviour or mental health problems
- speech and language difficulties
- an injury or illness or are recovering from an addiction
You’ll help clients to:
- gain greater awareness of their feelings
- express themselves
- work through their emotions
- come to terms with difficult times in their lives
- move on in a positive way
You could work in a prison, in an NHS or private hospital or at a school.
Your working environment may be emotionally demanding.
With experience, you could become self-employed and build up your own practice.
You could also become a senior arts therapist and manage a team of therapists, manage an arts therapy unit, or move into teaching.