As human beings, we all have good and bad days. There are days when we are just ready to face the world and feel like we can take on anything. On other days, we can feel a little bit down. And during the down days, sometimes we want nothing else other than a hot cup of tea by our sides, someone to talk to, a blog to read, and an outlet for all our emotions.
When life sometimes gets a little tough to bear, we turn to the things that make us feel the most alive — be it sports, gardening, music, or creative art. It is a good thing that in the modern world, there are various tools to help us cope, and one of them is good ‘ol therapy. Now there are different forms of therapy such as cognitive behavioral therapy, group therapy, psychotherapy... but in this article we will be focusing on art therapy — what it is, how can it help you, how you can be an art therapist, and even how to set up your own art therapist website for free.
What Is Art Therapy?
Art therapy, in the simplest terms, is like any other therapy whose primary aim is to help people deal with psychological and emotional difficulties. The unique thing about art therapy, though, is that clients can tap into their creativity, make art, and heal their psychological wounds or improve their mental health with an art therapist’s guidance.
It’s interesting how healing art can be. Art making and the creative process can be therapeutic in and on itself. It can be a form of relaxation where you get lost in the process and you’re just enjoying drawing, painting, or making sculpture. To the therapists who enjoy doing and teaching these things, they choose to specialize in this field and diverge from the standard way of counseling to pursue being the unique profession that is an art therapist.
What Do Art Therapists Do?
In art therapy, the focus is in the process of art making and not the art itself. That’s why those who think they aren’t gifted in drawing or painting shouldn’t be afraid. An art therapist does not make judgments of their client’s art. It doesn’t matter whether the creation is deemed pretty or ugly, an art therapist is there to help you make sense of what it is you are creating, and not the actual product. You can say that looking at art can make you feel a lot of things, and sometimes we just want things to make sense. Art therapists are trained to guide clients to introspect and explore their internal state. They will help you explore what the shapes, lines, and colors of the art might mean.
What Are the Benefits of Art Therapy?
- Stops rumination - When you work with your hands, you won’t have that much time to think because you are focused on the five senses. This helps people stop intrusive thoughts and just focus on the task at hand.
- Improves mood - When you have an outlet for all your pent up emotion, the world just suddenly feels a little lighter — like a weight has been lifted up your shoulders. Art therapy helps you focus on positive life experiences. It makes you feel calm.
- Restores balance - When you do art therapy, you are activating both sides of the brain, integrating both the left and right hemisphere. This makes the practice holistic, in that you use both your body and your mind.
- Enhances self-worth and identity - A research conducted in 2010 showed that when cancer patients engaged in visual art, it took their minds off their illnesses and even enabled them to increase their self-worth by maintaining a social identity apart from being defined by cancer. It also allowed them to feel a sense of challenge and achievement which contributed to their overall wellbeing.
For Whom Is Art Therapy?
Where Do Art Therapists Work?
- Hospitals and clinics
- Treatment centers
- Mental health agencies
- Shelters for the homeless
- Shelters for those who suffered from domestic violence
- Nonprofit organizations
- Universities, schools, and colleges
- Home for the aged
- Art galleries or studios
- Own clinics
How Much Can I Earn as an Art Therapist?
Art therapy is definitely gaining more popularity. And if you decide to be an art therapist yourself, by all means go for it. You can help people at the same time have fun in the process. In the USA, people who practice the trade have an art therapy salary averaging $30,000 to $40,000 to begin with, while those who are more experienced can earn as much as $100,000 or even more.
Pros and Cons to Being an Art Therapist
Just because you’ve chosen being an art therapist as your profession, it doesn’t mean that you don’t need to check in with your emotions and that you never get frazzled. As with anything in life, it is a skill to learn how to be mindful of your current state and not let problems affect your life in a negative way. One pro to being an art therapist is that you will learn how to cope through creative art as well. Not only that, but along with your client, you will get to discover parts of yourself that you haven’t known before. It’s safe to say that being an art therapist is a fulfilling career as you get to help people through life’s hardships. However, it comes with its own list of cons that you have to consider as well.
As you will learn below, becoming an art therapist takes a long time. You would need to spend at least eight years to become one. The investment of time and resources is a lot at the start. Also, the job market is relatively smaller for an art therapist than a regular clinical therapist. This is because the profession is relatively new and undoubtedly unique. With that being said, art therapists can work with a flexible time. So if that’s something you would want to explore, read on.
How to Become an Art Therapist:
- Get an art therapy degree.
According to the American Art Therapy Association, the minimum requirement for entry-level practice is a master’s degree. You can also have a master’s degree in counseling as long as you take up additional coursework in art therapy. Good art therapy programs should include training you in the creative process, psychological development, group therapy, art therapy assessment, research, and psychodiagnostics. In addition to that, you need to complete a clinical internship with at least 600 hours clocked-in.
- Get your art therapy certification.
After completing your master’s degree in art therapy and finishing the internship, you must now apply to become a registered art therapist (ATR) through the Art Therapy Credentials Board (ATCB). After that, you can now test for the board certification examination (ATR-BC). Do note that the length of time to accomplish this can vary depending on whether you choose to do it full time or not. The good news is, you can now start your journey to complete your art therapy certification online.
- Get your first client and start healing!
The journey to being an art therapist is not easy, but the rewards are well worth it. After you complete your masters and get board certified, we know just how much you want to start practicing your profession and help people heal through art. The best way to do this is to set up your own website so that people will know that you are ready for business. Don’t forget to showcase your own art as well to attract more customers and showcase your unique path to healing.
Image taken from Julianne Feir’s website
5 Super Simple Steps to Creating Your Own Art Therapy Website:
- Sign up for a free 14-day trial at Strikingly
Image taken from Strikingly’s website
- Choose a template that you like.
- Add a Contact page so your clients know where to find you and book an appointment.
Inside Strikingly website editor.
- Write about who you are and what values you stand for in your About Me page
Image taken from Strikingly Manifesto
- Publish your website.
Strikingly’s publish window
Pursuing an art therapist career has its own pros and cons. For one, a long investment time is needed before you can actually practice your craft, however, it can be incredibly fulfilling. Who knew that there is actually another avenue for being a mental health counselor than just the traditional talk therapy? The emergence of art therapy as a viable profession proves that there is always a place for you to fulfill your dreams and turn your passions into careers.
And if you’ve finally decided on pursuing being an art therapist, just make sure that you have the right tools (including an art therapy certification) to help you gain clients and build your personal brand online. Make your site standout using these strategies, and just know that we are just one message away and that can always count on us to get you started on the trade.