Art Therapy Certification and Certificate Programs

Art therapy certificate programs teach students about a form of therapy that allows patients to use art to express themselves. Once a student has earned a post-master's certificate in art therapy, they can register to become an art therapist.

Essential Information

Art therapy certificate programs are most commonly offered at the post-master's level and can help qualify graduates for state credentials. Voluntary art therapy certifications are available to students who have education and/or clinical experience in art therapy.

Applicants need a bachelor's degree in a related field like psychology or social work and a master's degree in a related field for most programs. Prior education in art and psychology, as well as prior experience in counseling is beneficial. The length of the certificate programs vary by school.

Art Therapy Certificate Programs

Courses in art therapy certificate programs provide students with an understanding of the tools and methods used in this form of therapy. Certificate programs also train students to employ art therapy in a variety of different types of clinical settings. The following list outlines some of the common course topics offered in a program:

  • Assessment and diagnosis in art therapy
  • Counseling in art therapy
  • Employing art therapy with children
  • Group art therapy
  • Psychopathology
  • Techniques and materials of art therapy
  • Theory and history of art therapy

Popular Career Options

Earning an art therapy certificate can be useful for a wide variety of human service professionals. While some choose to practice art therapy as their primary function, others incorporate it as one of several tools for helping people. Possible careers include:

  • Art therapist
  • Social worker
  • Psychologist
  • Counselor

Credentialing Information

As a subset of recreational therapy, art therapy can be credentialed in either specialty. Credentialing regulations vary from state to state and might include licensure or registration requirements. The National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification (NCTRC) offers voluntary certification to recreational therapists, including the Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist (CTRS) designation for those who have at least a bachelor's degree in recreational therapy or sufficient experience working in the field under a CTRS (

Upon completing a post-master's certificate in art therapy, it's possible to become a Registered Art Therapist (ATR) through the Art Therapy Credentials Board, Inc. (ATCB). In addition to coursework in art therapy, ATR registration also requires documentation of supervised clinical experience ( Therapists with an ATR certification can later choose to earn a Board Certified Art Therapist (ATR-BC) designation by completing a national examination that tests a candidate's understanding of the clinical skills and theories utilized in art therapy practice. Additionally, the Art Therapy Credentials Board offers board-certified art therapists the opportunity to become Art Therapy Certified Supervisors (ATCS).

Art therapy certificates are usually earned in addition to a bachelor's and/or master's degree to learn the methods and techniques required for the therapy. Students can earn additional credentials and pursue careers in therapy and counseling.

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