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Art Therapist Profile


This Section of the site details information that you might find useful if you are looking to secure employment or require further details regarding working as an Art Therapist. This page details the following Information:-

  • Finding Suitable Work as an Art Therapist
  • Working Duties Expected
  • Hours and Environment
  • Working Skills Required
  • Training Requirements
  • Salary Expectations
  • Trade Information
  • Other useful Art Therapist Work Information

Finding Suitable Work

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Working Duties Expected

The following description is an overview of what the above job position entails, what kind of salary you can expect, what hours are involved in carrying out the work, where you can find additional information about the job in both web and trade publication formats and the required skills that may help you in looking for employment in this particular field.

Art Therapist - An Overview:

• An art therapist encourages people to express themselves using art materials like paint, paper and clay. They help people to unblock emotions and become more positive.
• Therapists work with individuals and groups.
• Clients could be frightened or confused or have mental health problems, behavioural problems or learning disabilities.
• Art therapists work closely with other health professionals. They might also work closely with a client's family or carers, helping them to understand their client's problems.
• Administration and paperwork, including keeping patient records, is also part of the work.

Most art therapists work Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm, with work in the evenings or at weekends, particularly if they have private clients. They might work in a specially equipped art studio, or another room with art equipment. An art therapist needs to be:

• a skilled artist
• keen to help people to overcome problems
• a good communicator
• flexible and imaginative
• interested in psychology.

Employers include the NHS, local authority social services departments, local education authorities, charities and voluntary organisations or prisons. Some art therapists have their own practices. Art therapists are graduates with a recognised postgraduate qualification in art therapy. There is no maximum age to begin training. Maturity and life skills are very important.

What does the role encounter?

Some people have trouble expressing themselves in words. Art therapists encourage them to find other ways of describing how they feel, using art materials like paint, paper and clay.

Clients could be frightened or confused. They might have lost touch with their feelings. They might not be able to talk about what is troubling them. They can suffer from a range of problems including mental health problems, behavioural problems or learning disabilities. Some clients have no particular problems, but want to use art therapy to understand how they feel and explore ways of being creative.

An art therapist is not an art teacher. Their clients do not need any skill in art. They do not teach clients to produce artwork that looks attractive or 'artistic'. Instead they create a safe environment where their clients might feel secure about experimenting with art techniques to express themselves. As they learn to communicate their feelings they can begin to unblock old emotions and move on in a more positive way.

Art therapists might work with their clients on a one-to-one basis or in groups. In group work it is very important for clients to use art to communicate with each other as well as with the therapist, so teamwork is very important.

Art therapists work closely with other professionals including psychologists and psychotherapists, nurses, teachers and social workers. They might also work closely with a client's family or carers, helping them to understand their client's problems.

Art therapists also have administration and paperwork to do, including keeping patient records.

What type of hours will I have to work?

Most art therapists work Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm, but they may need to work in the evenings or at weekends, particularly if they have private clients. They can work part time.

Art therapists might work in a specially equipped art studio, or another room with art equipment. The surroundings are usually warm, light and comfortable.

They may have to travel to several different locations, so a driving licence would be useful. The locations could include hospitals, prisons, day centres, community centres and retirement homes.

What level of salary and benefits are there?

These figures are purely for guidance only. Salaries may vary for the area the job is situated in, age, experience along with a host of other factors:

• A newly-qualified art therapist in the NHS would earn from £18,375 a year.
• More senior art therapists can earn around £26,775.
• Head art therapists with managerial responsibility might earn up to £28,540.

What type of skills will I need?

You will need to have some or all of the following type of skills to carry out this job:

• to be skilled artists
• good communication skills
• good observational skills
• to understand body language
• to be a skilled motivator
• maturity when helping clients with strong and painful emotions
• to be able to develop trusting relationships with clients
• a flexible and imaginative approach
• patience
• to work well in a team
• a high level of self-awareness.

What type of training will I receive?

Postgraduate courses in art therapy are usually two years full time, or three to four years part time. They usually combine theory and practical work, and include the psychology of image making, therapeutic relationships, the importance of boundaries and psychological and psychotherapeutic practice. Practical art forms a large part of the course. Therapists also need to undergo therapy during their training.

Career Progression:

Promotion prospects for therapists working in the NHS are good. They might be promoted to senior art therapist and eventually to head of department, depending on the organisation.

Some art therapists practise part time while working in areas such as teaching or social work.

Are there similar types of job or related industries?

Yes, this list is not exhaustive but see the following categories:

Clinical Psychologist
Doctor: Hospital
Music Therapist
Nurse (Registered) Adult Branch
Nurse (Registered) Occupational Health
Social Worker Field
Social Worker Residential
Teacher School (England, Wales And Northern Ireland)
Teacher School (Scotland).

Where can I find further information?

The British Association of Art Therapists (BAAT), Southampton Place Business Centre, 16-19 Southampton Place, London WC1A 2AJ. 020 7745 7262. Website:

NHS Careers, PO Box 376, Bristol BS99 3EY. 0845 60 60 655. Website:

Queen Margaret University College, School of Art Therapy, Corstorphine Campus, Edinburgh EH12 8TS. 0131 317 3247. Website:

Queen's University Belfast, Ground Floor, Layton North, Layton, Belfast BT7 1NN. 02890 973091. Website:

The UK Council for Psychotherapy, 167-169 Great Portland Street, London W1W 5PF. 020 7436 3002. Website:

University of Derby, School of Health and Community Studies, Chevin Avenue, Mickleover, Derby DE3 9GX. 01332 592009. Website:

University of Hertfordshire, Department of Art Therapies, Faculty of Art & Design, College Lane, Hatfield, Hertfordshire AL10 9AB. 01707 284678. Website:

University of London, Unit of Psychotherapeutic Studies, Professional & Community Education, Goldsmith's College, New Cross, London SE14 6NW. 020 7919 7171. Website:

University of Sheffield, Centre for Psychotherapeutic Studies, School of Health and Related Research, Regent Court, 30 Regent Street, Sheffield S1 4DA. 0114 222 5454. Website:

What trade magazines are available for this industry?

All of the following magazines and journals can be purchased from any good bookstore:
Inscape - BAAT.

Other Useful Art Therapist Work Information

We have a section available at this site on Art Therapist job interview tips that you may find of interest should you wish to brush up your skills in this area and we also have number of career articles that may also be of use to you from within our guides and documents section.

Locations where we feature Jobs include:-
Aberdeen, Berkshire, Aberdeen, Bath, Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Cambridgeshire, Cardiff, Central London, Cheltenham, Cornwall, Coventry, Derby, Devon, Docklands, Dorset, Dundee, Durham, East Midlands, East Sussex, Edinburgh, Essex, Glasgow, Gloucester, Hampshire, Hertfordshire, Kent, Lancashire, Leeds, Leicester, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Middlesbrough, Midlands and in various parts of the West Midlands

Details of other Art Therapist Jobs can also be found in other UK wide areas including:-
Milton Keynes, Newcastle, Newcastle Upon Tyne, Norfolk, North London, North Midlands, Northampton, Northamptonshire, Northern Ireland, Northumberland, Norwich, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, Oxford, Oxfordshire, Plymouth, Salisbury, Scotland, Sheffield, Shropshire, Somerset, South East, South London, South Midlands, Southampton, Staffordshire Surrey, Swansea, Swindon, Telford, Wales, Warwickshire, West End, West London, West Midlands, Worcestershire, York and throughout Yorkshire.

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