Art therapy is a widely practised profession where people in trouble, facilitated by the help of art therapists explore the never ending chasm of creativity to express their emotions and feelings. This is perfect for fostering self-awareness, developing social skills, managing behaviour, curbing addictions, increasing self-esteem, controlling anxiety and restoring the normal functioning of a person so he would enjoy living without worrying about his/her problems. Though the art therapists should have some knowledge of art, it is not necessary that he be a proponent of the same. He should, however, have some knowledge of psychology, human development, and the theories and techniques used in counselling.
Art therapists must be able to handle diverse client populations who could also be couples, individuals, family and groups. People who suffer from trauma, depression, illness and even mental health problems can visit these art therapists, find solution to their problems through the medium of art and even attain personal growth.
Art therapy is a part of Masters of Mental Health program and those who have sufficient qualifications can get a rewarding job in:
- Psychiatric and rehabilitation facilities
- Wellness centres
- Forensic institutions
- Crisis centres
- Senior communities
- Private practice
- Other clinical and community settings
Art therapist education requirements
Several universities, graduate and undergraduate schools in South Africa offer courses in art therapy. As long as you have a base in one of the following (as graduation) – nursing, art, counselling, psychology or social science, you can apply for a post graduation qualification in art therapy. Different universities have different pre-requisites so you really have to discuss the rest with them.
While choosing courses for your art therapy, you can ensure that they are registered with AQSA (The South African Skills Quality Authority) or TEQSA (Tertiary Education Quality Standards Agency). The aim of both these organizations would be to examine all kinds of tertiary education. Both these organizations have reached a memorandum of understanding with each other to reach a common viewpoint on the regulation of dual-sector providers. They also ensure that all the nationally approved standards are followed diligently.
The various disciplines of study offered in art therapy for short sources, post graduate courses and research degrees are:
- Art Therapy, Creative Arts Therapy
- Expressive Arts Therapy
- Drama Therapy
- Dance Therapy
- Dance and Movement Therapy
- Music Therapy
- Transpersonal Arts Therapy and Psychodrama
The South African Creative Arts Therapies Association (ACATA) is a non-profit organization operating on a national level and is also responsible for ensuring that the practising art therapists in South Africa meet all professional standards in creative art.
Once you become a certified art therapist, you can become either a nationally recognised or an internationally known member of ACATA, and enjoy the benefits of shared knowledge and online networking of exchange opportunities.
The following are a few of the courses that are offered in art therapy. The list is by no means complete, but would help you to start somewhere:
- Diploma of Arts in Counselling (Arts Therapy)
- Master of Child Play Therapy
- Certificate in Sandplay Therapy & Symbol Work
- Certificate in Expressive Therapies with Children and Adolescents
- Certificate in Dance Therapy
- Diploma in Dance Therapy
- Certificate in Initiatic Art Therapy
- Graduate Certificate in Experiential & Creative Arts Practice
- Graduate Diploma in Experiential & Creative Art Practice
- Master of Arts by Supervision in Experiential & Creative Art Practice
- Master of Arts by Research in Experiential & Creative Practice
- Professional Doctorate in Experiential and Creative Arts Practice
- Master of Art Therapy
- Graduate Diploma of Art Therapy
- Advanced Diploma of Transpersonal Art Therapy
- Master of Music Therapy (by Course Work)
- Master of Music (Music Therapy) by Research
- Graduate Diploma in Guided Imagery and Music
- Certificate in Music and Imagery
- Graduate Diploma of Arts Psychotherapy