Art therapy programs in the United States require a graduate degree for certification with the American Art Therapy Association. There are a limited number of educational institutions around the country that offer a degree in art therapy. The school programs listed here are private institutions. Therapists work in many fields, including education, mental health fields and social work. Art therapy is effective with groups of people who have difficulty communicating, or have significant trauma. Art therapists have undergraduate degrees in psychology, social work, education, art studio and occasionally, art therapy.
The art therapy program a Naropa in Boulder, Colorado is included as part of the Transpersonal Counseling Psychology degree. The strength of the Naropa Institute is their alignment with the contemplative arts, and Eastern philosophic approach to art therapy. This is a three-year graduate degree program that qualifies for license as an art therapist upon graduation. Requirements include clinical practicum and internship.
Antioch University in Seattle offers an art therapy concentration with either Mental Health Counseling (MHC) or Couple and Family Therapy (CFT) degree programs. Graduate students in the Antioch program are encouraged to present their research at AATA (American Art Therapy Association) annual conferences. Strengths of this art therapy program include social responsibility with an emphasis on programs with cultural diversity. This campus is aligned with Native American studies at local tribal reservations.
The Pratt Institute in New York offers an Art Therapy and Creative Development degree at both the undergraduate and graduate level. Both degrees are housed within the Creative Arts Therapy department. The program includes a fieldwork component with core courses in psychology and education. Their program offers specialized study for art therapy with special needs children. This campus has access to 25 acres of green space in Brooklyn, New York.
School of Art Institute, Chicago
The School of Art Institute in Chicago offers a master’s of art in art therapy for students of the arts and humanities. The program is divided into five full-time semesters and has a limit of four years for completion with time-off. Recent thesis of graduates include “Rendering Visibility: Art Therapy and Queer Theory,” by Shannon N. Kavanagh and “From Conflict Toward an Eclectic Education: An Evaluation of Art Therapy Graduate Education,” by Brian R. Rath, both completed in 2009.
Loyola Marymount University
In southern California, there are several art therapy schools. Loyola Marymount’s graduate degree in art therapy comes through the Department of Marital and Family Therapy with specialized training in clinical art therapy. Their clinic, The Helen B. Landgarten Art Therapy Clinic, offers trauma training for alumni with advanced degrees in fine arts. Some of the recent trainings at the clinic include; Psychological First Aid, Critical Incident Stress Debriefing for Art Therapists and Art Therapy for Pregnant and Parenting Teens.