“Art therapy is a master’s level training program used in mental health counseling and social work,” says Dana Elmendorf, program director of the Seton Hill University Graduate Art Therapy Program.
Art making is a technique used by some mental health professionals in working with their clients, but art therapy is a separate profession in itself, she explains. Art therapists are board certified and can also be licensed mental health providers.
The art therapy training program involves 60 credit hours and 700 hours of practicum.
The curriculum includes training in the history and theory of art therapy, materials and techniques, psychological and counseling theories, diagnosis and assessment procedures, personality development, professional ethics and more.
“Art therapists use art-making, the creative process, psychological theory and knowledge of human experience when working with clients,” according to the American Art Therapy Association, a nonprofit professional and educational organization dedicated to the growth and development of the art therapy profession founded in 1969.
In Pennsylvania, these schools offer graduate-level art therapy education programs: Cedar Crest College, Drexel University, Edinboro University, Marywood University, Seton Hill University, Holy Family University, Philadelphia University and Thomas Jefferson University.
The Pennsylvania Art Therapy Licensure Council has proposed House Bill 932 asking for independent licensure and regulation of art therapists in Pennsylvania.
The bill would establish legal professional standards for:
• Art therapy education
• Clinical experience and supervision
• Continuing education
• License reciprocity with other states with art therapy licenses
• Protection for the title “Licensed Art Therapist,” prohibiting non-art therapists or undertrained professionals from calling themselves art therapists
• Legal right to provide clinical diagnoses.