By the time the art therapy programs have been chosen in the Art Therapy school of choice, students should have already declared this their major primary field of study, which is considered the most important decision they will ever make. According to one college, the Ursuline College Graduate pre-requisites, many prerequisite courses will have been already completed in college to qualify for upper-level courses, with a Bachelor’s degree in art, psychology, behavioral science, social science, or a related field already acquired before art therapy programs can begin.
Schools that teach art therapy programs need the student to show evidence of their ability to do graduate work in the art therapy field. Not a simple field, this needs a 3.0 grade point average or above, which is based on a 4.0 system. The reason for this is because anything as a high school freshman (or 9th grade) and on up will be added to the cumulative GPA, which will effect the outcome of the schools seeking admittance to, and the scholarships being applied for. When applying to a school which teaches art therapy programs, this will have great impact on whether or not the student will be accepted.
Art therapy programs have quite a few prerequisites, which make art therapy classes easier to understand and to apply to one’s ability to learn. One such group of prerequisites to art therapy programs is a completed minimum of 18 semester hours in studio art–drawing, painting, clay or sculpture. Another is a minimum of 12 semester hours in Psychology, a prerequisite that involves four areas: General Psychology, Developmental Psychology, Personality or Counseling Development, and Abnormal Psychology or Psychopathology. And last but not least is some experience in a human service context field working with people on some level.
U.S. News has a partial list of 26 Art Therapy Schools which have quality art therapy programs under a national listing of the top “America’s Best Colleges 2008” list. When choosing the college major for a future in art therapy, working with people of all types, ages, and backgrounds will be part of the job description. Working in art therapy uses visual artistic expression by the client to allow them to safely express hidden emotions and to explore their personal problems. The end result can enable them to achieve positive change in their lives, combined with personal growth. The major difference in art therapy, as compared to traditional psychological therapies, is that it consists of a three-way process. This process is combination of efforts between the client, therapist, and the artwork itself.
Art therapy programs have professionals to train the prospective art therapist to work in many different ways. Some of these ways are to work with other professionals as a team; assess the individual needs of the client; listen to them and provide guidance; work creatively with them in a therapeutic setting; enable the client themselves to explore their own creativity, their art work, and its process; and most important, maintain the latest research and new ideas regarding the latest developments of art therapy.