Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is Art Therapy?

A: Art therapy is a health care profession that uses the creative process of art making to improve and enhance the physical, mental and emotional well being of individuals of all ages. It is based on the belief that the creative process involved in artistic self-expression helps people to resolve conflicts and problems, develop interpersonal skills, manage behavior, reduce stress, increase self-esteem and self-awareness and achieve insight.
Q: Who are Art Therapists?

A: Art therapists are master’s-level professionals who hold a degree in art therapy or a related field. Educational requirements include: theories of art therapy, counseling and psychotherapy, ethics and standards of practice, assessment and evaluation, individual, group, and family techniques, human and creative development, multicultural issues, research methods, and practicum experiences in clinical, community, and/or other settings. Art therapists are skilled in the application of a variety of art modalities (drawing, painting, sculpture, and other media) for assessment and treatment. They work independently as primary therapists or as part of a treatment team. Art therapists are trained to work with people of all ages and impairments in a variety of settings, including hospitals, rehabilitation, psychiatric, medical, residential, educational, assisted living facilities, as well as in private practice.
Q: Who is helped by Art Therapy?

A: Art therapy is used with children, adolescents, adults, older adults, groups, families, veterans, and people with chronic health issues to assess and treat the following: anxiety, depression, and other mental and emotional problems, substance abuse and addictions, family and relationship issues, abuse and domestic violence, social and emotional difficulties related to disability and illness, trauma and loss, physical, cognitive, and neurological problems, and psychosocial difficulties related to medical illness.

Q: What can a Client expect in an Art Therapy Session?

A: Art Therapists work in a very similar way to any therapist with the exception that they incorporate art creation into the treatment. Art Therapists use simple art materials in a creative process that does not require any special art training. Art Therapists support the client’s work through thoughtful therapeutic intervention. The work that is created fosters healthy communication and expression, promotes the integration of physical, emotional, cognitive, and social functioning. It enhances self-awareness, and facilitates change. Art Therapists facilitate and encourage their client’s in the creation of the art pieces to foster mental health and  in the service of reaching their therapeutic treatment goals. 

Q: What happens to the Client’s Artwork?

A: There is no hard-and-fast policy or legal answer to what happens to a client's artwork.  The policies vary among art therapists in private practice, social service/behavior health agencies and hospitals. In all cases the client's art work is considered a valuable part of the client's treatment plan.  The issue of what happens to the client's artwork will be covered as part of the therapist's, agency's or hospital's informed consent for treatment.

Q: What are the Credentials of Art Therapists?
A: Art therapists are credentialed by the Art Therapy Credentials Board, Inc. (ATCB), an independent organization, that grants national art therapy credentials based on education, supervised experience, and examination.

• Registration (ATR) is granted upon completion of graduate education and post-graduate supervised experience.

• Board Certification (ATR-BC) is granted to Registered Art Therapists who pass a written examination, and is  maintained through continuing education.

Many art therapists in California are also licensed therapists (LMFT, LCSW, PhD, PsyD) and are governed by California State Licensing Boards.

All art therapists are required to adhere to the ethical guidelines established by the licensing boards and credentialing bodies granting a license and/or credential. Likewise art therapists must adhere to the ethical standards set by any membership organizations to which they belong. Review these websites for more information at AATA and ATCB.

Q: How can I find an Art Therapy masters program? 

 Click here to see the program listings. 

If you have any questions concerning membership, please call the National Association at 888.290.0878.  

Southern California Art Therapy Association

Copyright, Southern California Art Therapy Association, 2010, All Rights Reserved
Serving Art Therapists throughout Los Angeles, Orange, Ventura, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Kern, 
Riverside, San Bernadino, San Diego and Imperial Counties.

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