Entry requirements and training (art therapists)

This page has information on the entry requirements and training to become an art therapist.

To be an art therapist you need professional experience in an area of therapy or health care. This may be from working in, for example, nursing, social work, special needs or psychotherapy. Or you may have voluntary experience of working with people in a therapeutic setting.

To practice as an art therapist, you must be registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).

In order to register with the HCPC, you must first successfully complete an approved postgraduate qualification in art therapy. Courses take two years full time or three years part time. They cover the psychology of image making, therapeutic relationships, the importance of boundaries and psychological and psychotherapeutic practice.

You will usually need a first degree in art or a relevant subject. You may be accepted onto a course without an art degree, if you have a strong art background. Those accepted onto the courses are usually mature, flexible people who have had experience of working in mental health, education, special needs or social services before applying. You will need to show a portfolio of your art work.

The British Association of Art Therapists (BAAT) runs an Introduction to Art Therapy course which could help you decide if this is the right career area for you.

Once you’ve successfully completed a programme approved by the HCPC, you are then eligible to apply for registration with the HCPC. Once registered as a practitioner, you’ll be required to retain your name on the register by keeping your knowledge and skills up to date and paying an annual retention fee.

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