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Art Therapy

The Breakdown

Art is a powerful medium.  It offers a much needed vehicle for self-expression and it allows us to connect to one another far beyond a surface level.  Further, when words and mere conversation fail us, we can turn to art as a means of communication.  Art therapists truly understand the importance of this field and know how to harness the healing power of art to help their clients recover and grow.  

If you choose to study art therapy, you’ll have a healthy dose of both art and psychology classes.  You will learn how to create your own visual language, honing your techniques for composition and form.  In addition, you’ll study human development, theories in treating trauma and how to foster creativity in others.  Many art therapy majors choose to pair their degree with a second major in either psychology or studio art.  Lastly, we must make mention that while there are a handful of colleges that offer a bachelor’s degree in art therapy, most art therapy programs are at the graduate level. 

To be a successful art therapy major, you’ll find it’s important to be both creative and a keen observer of human nature.  Additionally, it helps to be a great listener and communicator as well as a person who can maintain objectivity.  And you will soon discover that a dash of patience can go a long way.  Finally, you shouldn’t have an aversion to glitter. 


Nuts and Bolts

As an art therapy major, you’ll have a great balance between classes in the visual arts and classes in the behavioral sciences.  Possible courses might include: Abnormal Psychology, Introduction to Counseling, Principles of Color Theory, Printmaking, Fiber Design, Personality Theory, Current Trends in Psychotherapy, History of Contemporary Art, Art Therapy with Special Needs Populations, Advanced Studio in Ceramics and Integrating Arts into the Classroom. 

Decisions, Decisions

Students who major in art therapy are deeply passionate about the arts, self-expression and helping people overcome obstacles.  Therefore, they are likely to be curious about studio art, education, art history, psychology, music therapy, photography, social work, occupational therapy, child development, painting, illustration, film, theater, human development and physical therapy.

What's Next

As we stated above, it’s quite common for art therapy majors to head to graduate school for further training.  Indeed, an advanced degree is necessary to become a full-fledged professional.  However, don’t let that news leave you feeling disheartened.  There are still plenty of entry-level positions to be found.  Certainly there are a number of social service agencies and programs that hire many an art therapy major.  And recent grads can find jobs within geriatric facilities, community health centers, psychiatric facilities, nursing homes, alternative schools and drug and alcohol centers.  And regardless of where you might end up, you can anticipate it will be a rewarding and enlightening experience. 



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Don Munce