I’ve been doing art therapy for my entire career with clients and decided to get certified in August of 2017. I explored programs and found one that I liked — the Edinboro Art Therapy Post-Master’s Certification Program. While I had enough mental health credits, I needed “studio hours” – art classes. This means that all art therapists must be mental health practitioners and artists. It was my first clue that becoming a certified art therapist was going to be more challenging than I thought.
I worked very hard in the spring of 2018 to catch up my studio hours (I would still have many more to go) and was delighted to be accepted into the Edinboro program in August of 2018. I started that semester. I was astounded at how hard the coursework was. Honestly, I thought I would take a few classes and get a certification. This was graduate level coursework, as hard as the coursework that I did for my Ph.D. It took me several weeks to find my footing in the program. The good news is that the coursework was fascinating. l got organized and dug in.
I was blown away by what I did not know about art therapy. I took classes in the History of Art Therapy, Media and Materials, Art Therapy and Groups, Art Therapy and Assessments, Art Therapy and Ethics, International Art Therapy (my favorite class!) and Art Therapy and Research. As I write this in the summer of 2019, I am completing a supervised internship and doing an art therapy research project. I also have to do art therapy community service.
During my coursework, I also learned that art therapists work in many settings, such as hospitals, schools, residential placements, inpatient mental health hospitals and women’s shelters. Art therapists also intervene in crisis situations, such as in natural disasters.
It is possible to specialize in art therapy. There is medical art therapy, art therapy with families and/or couples, art therapy with children, seniors or international art therapy. Some ambitious people get Ph.Ds. in art therapy and become faculty members to teach the next generation. I plan to special in trauma and grief, since I think that talk therapy does not adequately address these topics.
It has been a lot of work and many hours of studying to work towards my Post Master’s Art Therapy certification. I am just beginning to scratch the surface of learning and look forward to many years of growing as an art therapist.
Dr. Tara Alexander, LCSW is currently taking appointments for art therapy. She would be delighted to talk to with you about the healing aspects of art and art therapy. Please feel free to contact her by clicking the contact tab above.