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Health & Social Care careers

Healthcare: Arts Therapy

What is art therapy?

Fancy working in therapy, but want to do something slightly more unconventional? Well, you’re in the right place. Say hello to art therapy careers!

Some people often find it difficult to express themselves, i.e. they are unable to convey what they are feeling or they are unable to communicate for physical reasons.

Art therapy helps people who are unable to express or communicate themselves through other forms of therapy. It is a form of psychotherapy, which allows individuals to express themselves through the medium of art.

How does art therapy work?

When you’re undergoing therapy, a big part of the process is having the ability to convey how you feel. As such, art therapy is often a great way for many people to get help if they are unable to get things off their chest through conventional methods.

The focus of art therapy is not necessarily about producing something visually appealing. It’s more about using an artistic form of expression as a way of conveying a psychological state.

Art therapy is an effective way for people to demonstrate often confusing and complicated emotions. People that feel emotionally blocked or scared often find success with this form of therapy.

If you find work as an art therapist, you might be working in the psychiatric ward of a hospital, at a school, in a prison or in a care unit. Without a doubt, the largest employer of art therapists is the NHS; however, charities and other organisations will also offer opportunities.

Working within this sector can be extremely challenging at times, but it can be incredibly rewarding in equal measure. Often, the people you will be working with will be experiencing extreme psychological difficulties, which can manifest themselves in a variety of ways. The ability to remain patient, emotionally detached but also extremely personable can be very challenging at times.

What do I need to be an art therapist?

The purpose of this job is much the same as any other psychotherapy occupation, the main difference being that art is used as a medium of expression. As well as providing a method of communication for patients, it is also a cathartic process. It’s a relaxing way for people to calm themselves down and communicate their feelings.

Unlike other psychotherapy routes, a background in art or design is required. You will be required to demonstrate a portfolio and to acquire relevant psychotherapy skills. Academic training in a psychology-related subject is not required, however.

If you’re creative and want to use your talents to help people in a more direct and hands-on way, then a career in arts therapy may be perfect for you! 

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