How To Become An Art Therapist In Australia?

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Students want to know how they can become art therapists in Australia.


Are you fond of art and want to use your creative expression as a tool to bring positive changes in people's lives? Then, a career as an Art Therapist might best suit you.


Art therapists design personalised healing programs for people who face emotional or mental challenges. They help patients explore their feelings, feel achieved, lower stress, and enhance their well-being.


To become an Art Therapist, complete a master's degree in Art Therapy, counselling, psychology, or social work and gain supervised work experience. Register with the Australian, New Zealand, and Asian Creative Arts Therapies Association to acquire a license to offer professional Art Therapy services.


This blog explains the qualifications and skills you need to become a certified art therapist, including responsibilities, online art therapy courses, earning potential, salary, job prospects and the steps to launch a career in Art Therapy.



1. What Is Arts Therapy?


Arts therapy is a form of psychotherapy. It is a standard evidence-based therapeutic tool that has been widely used worldwide in the treatment of mental health issues.


The creative process involves using visual arts to facilitate the exploration of feelings, reduce anxiety, and improve self-awareness in people. It is helpful for those who can't verbalise their feelings due to cognitive, developmental, or other conditions.



2. Who Is An Art Therapist?


Arts therapists are mental health professionals who possess excellent communication and artistic skills. They know creative, psychotherapeutic, and psychological methods.


Arts therapists use visual arts to diagnose mental health and improve the client's emotional, psychological, cognitive, and physical well-being. They conduct therapy sessions in individual or group settings that comprise the following:


  • Drawing 

  • Acting

  • Dancing

  • Painting

  • Sculpting

  • Collage 

  • Sand play



They provide a safe and nurturing environment to help their clients in the following ways:


  • Improve confidence and self-esteem 

  • Help clients express feelings that they find hard to verbalise

  • Help explore their creativity and imagination 

  • Help develop concentration and healthy coping abilities

  • Improve communication skills

  • Enhance physical coordination and motor skills

  • Help recognise blockages to self-expression and personal development



3. Art Therapist Tasks And Duties


Art Therapists work with diverse clients, from children and youths to adults and the old. They help resolve conflicts, build interpersonal skills, administer behaviour, lessen stress, enhance self-esteem, and gain insights. 


The most common task they perform are the following:


  • Conduct therapeutic interviews with clients or groups to establish goals for art therapy sessions

  • Recognise the cause of behavioural, cognitive, and emotional disorders to determine a suitable course of treatment

  • Interprets diagnostic tests and formulates personalised treatment plans that include art therapy, psychotherapy, and counselling techniques per the client's objectives

  • Provide psychotherapy and counselling

  • Instruct individuals or groups on how to use art media, such as clay, yarn, or paint

  • Provide art-based guided self-expression to help clients recover from emotional and cognitive issues

  • Create tailor-made art therapy programs specifically for schools, hospitals, nursing homes, wellness centres, shelters, or prisons

  • Write progress reports concerning individual clients or groups.

  • Conduct workshops to share information with other professionals, the community, and potential client groups.

  • Assist and supervise staff, workshop students, volunteers, and interns

  • Write treatment plans, case summaries, and progress reports.

  • Suggest or buy essential art equipment or supplies 

  • Follow-up with clients for support and evaluation objectives

  • Build relationships with clients to help them better understand their behaviours and emotions

  • Collaborate with other professionals on client cases to identify the best course of remedial action

  • Work with medical personnel, families, and other therapists to create programs.



4. Personal Requirements For Art Therapists


Art Therapists must have the following attributes and traits:           


  • Interested in people and human behaviour

  • Good problem-solving skills

  • Sound Judgment and Decision-Making skills

  • Social Perceptiveness 

  • Curiosity

  • Service Oriented

  • Logic and reasoning 

  • Able to maintain confidentiality

  • Patience and Empathy

  • Active Listening

  • Good oral and written communication skills

  • Critical Thinking

  • Observant

  • Artistic hands

  • Imaginative

  • Professional

  • Able to put clients at ease

  • Like staying updated on the developments in Art Therapy



5. What Qualifications Do Art Therapists Need?


To practice as a registered Art Therapist, you must meet the following requirements:


  • Gain your Senior Secondary Certificate of Education 

  • Study an undergraduate degree in art, social science, psychologynursingcounselling, or a related field 

  • Complete a minimum two-year relevant master's degree such as a Master of Art Therapy

  • Complete at least 750 hours of supervised field experience in clinical practice

  • Register with the Australian, New Zealand, and Asian Creative Arts Therapies Association and obtain professional membership. This is the peak professional body representing creative arts therapists in Australia, Asia/Pacific, and New Zealand.

  • Complete continuing professional development and work under a code of ethics

  • Obtain a First Aid Certificate, immunisations, and National Police Certificate, and undergo a Working with Children Check



6. Steps To Become An Art Therapist In Australia


You must register with the Australian, New Zealand, and Asian Creative Arts Therapies Association to practice art therapy in Australia. 


However, to register, you must complete a master's qualification in Art Therapy.



Step 1: Complete A Bachelor Of Art Therapy Qualification


Your educational background matters a lot to potential clients and employers. They prefer working with professionals who hold art therapy degrees from an accredited institution that offers nationally recognised programs.


So, start your professional journey by completing a 3-year full-time Bachelor of Art or a related field. Many top Australian Universities, such as UNSW, the University of Sydney, and the University of Western Australia, offer this course to students.


The art therapy degree in Australia provides students with highly sought-after life-long and transferable skills. It gives them an instant competitive edge in the job market.


Alternatively, you can complete a 1-year full-time Diploma of Arts at CQ UniversityMonash CollegeSydney Art SchoolRMIT University, and Swinburne University.


The degree helps students develop knowledge in social sciences or humanitarian disciplines to prepare for employment in various fields or pursue further studies.



Step 2: Obtain A Master's Qualification


Once your bachelor's degree, the next step is to obtain a professional postgraduate art therapy degree. These include a master's or graduate diploma in art therapy, psychology, or counselling.


Ensure that your graduate diploma fulfils the Australian Qualifications Framework. Further, ensure professional art therapy associations like ANZACATA  recognise it.


Further, you need to complete a mandatory 750 hours of supervised clinical placement to become a Registered Art Therapist.



Step 3: Study At An Accredited School


Besides universities and colleges, several other accredited schools offer recognised art therapy courses to students.


  • The Ikon Institute of Australia - Advanced Diploma of Transpersonal Art Therapy 

  • College of Complementary Medicine - Advanced Diploma of Transpersonal Therapy (Art Therapy) and Advanced Diploma of Transpersonal Therapy (Counselling)

  • College for Educational and Clinical Art Therapy - Online Certificate and Online Diploma in Art Therapy Australian School Of Holistic Counselling - Master Practitioner of Holistic Counselling 



Step 4: Register With A Professional Organisation


Completing your master's degree at an accredited university allows you to seek membership in a professional body like the ANZACATA. It is the largest organisation representing expert art therapists in Australia, the Asia-Pacific, and New Zealand.


ANZACATA offer tiered levels of memberships based on the qualification level. It also offers well-priced professional indemnity insurance to its members. 


Joining the vast community of health professionals will boost your credibility and widen your professional network. Members must undergo regular supervision and continuing professional development training annually to keep the membership active.



7. Art Therapist Courses In Australia



Ikon Institute


The Ikon Institute of Australia is a leading provider of art therapy training programs across Australia. The institute offers accredited art therapy courses in Australia approved for VET Student Loans.


Students learn through face-to-face classroom-based learning and self-directed education. Online delivery of the modules makes learning flexible and accessible for students.


The Advanced Diploma of Transpersonal Art Therapy includes a 100-hour clinical practice in an appropriate setting. It provides introductory knowledge of the history of art therapy and the paradigms of mental health and counselling techniques.



College For Educational and Clinical Art Therapy


CECAT is the first international institution to offer a certified Art Therapy course through distance education. It works with prestigious independent teaching institutions to provide tailored educational programs to students. 


Their online certificate and diploma in art therapy offer an in-depth understanding and personalised experience producing first-class learning results.



  • 2-Day Introductory Intensive

  • 2- Day Online Introduction Course

  • 6–12-month Part-time Online Certificate Course

  • 3-6-month Part-time Online Diploma Course



Master of Art Therapy - Western Sydney University


  • Study Option: 2 years Full-Time/4 years Part-Time

  • Delivery Mode: On-campus


A nationally and globally recognised degree equips students with the therapeutic skills to assist emotionally distressed people with social, psychological, and physical issues. Students gain confidence through academic and experiential learning involving 750 hours of supervised clinical training.


Graduates can apply for professional membership in the Australian Counselling Association and register with the Australian, New Zealand, and Asian Creative Arts Therapies Association.



Phoenix Institute of Australia, Melbourne, Australia


Degree: Advanced Diploma in Transpersonal Art Therapy


The course equips students with professional and personal life skills in a safe and nurturing environment. The program focuses on cultivating people and fosters the creative development of human potential.



La Trobe University


  • Degree/Programs: 2-day Introduction to Art Therapy and two years Master of Art Therapy

  • Bundoora Campus, Melbourne



The University of Melbourne 


  • Degree/Programs: Master of Creative Art Therapy in Australia

  • Teaching Method: Theoretical, Practice-Based, And Experiential Learning Approaches 

  • Two years full-time / 4 years part-time

  • Mixed Attendance Mode (Southbank)



8. How Long Does It Take To Become An Art Therapist?


To become an Art Therapist, you must complete a three-year bachelor's degree in art or a related field. After, continue with a 2-year related master's degree and undertake supervised clinical training.


Once qualified, you can register with ANZACATA and start working as a Registered Art Therapist in Australia. Thus, pursuing an Art Therapist career in Australia takes 5-6 years of education and training.



9. Job Opportunities And Outlook For Art Therapists


Art therapists work solo or as part of a team to address psychological and emotional problems. They use non-verbal, expressive, and creative activities such as painting, acting, singing, drawing, collage-making, and sculpting.


They work in community, counselling, and healthcare settings to help people achieve better mental health. Both full-time and part-time work opportunities are available in this profession, depending on the employer.


Some of the areas of work include:


  • Psychiatric wards

  • Mental health facilities

  • Prisons 

  • Palliative care centres

  • Rehabilitation centres 

  • Drug and alcohol units

  • Non-government organisations 

  • Community-based organisations such as aged-care facilities, schools, and welfare centres 

  • Private practice

  • Homeless shelters

  • Community health centres

  • Hospital

  • Correctional facilities

  • Rehabilitation facilities

  • Senior living facilities

  • Disability centres

  • Private health clinics


The job outlook for the Art Therapist profession is quite promising and will likely grow by 14.8% through 2024. Thus, it is the best time to start working on gaining qualifications and developing the necessary skills for a successful career.



10. How Much Does An Art Therapist Get Paid In Australia?


The average art therapist's salary in Australia is AU$40.31 per hour, or equivalent to AU$80,000 yearly.


Here is the average Art Therapist's salary at varying levels of experience:


  • Early career (1 to 4 years of experience): AU$37.50 

  • Mid-career (5 to 9 years of experience): AU$44.82 

  • Experienced (10 to 19 years of experience): AU$42.09


The top-paying states for Art Therapists are:


  • NSW: AU$42.38 / hour

  • VIC: AU$40.31 / hour 



11. Conclusion


Becoming an Art Therapist is a dynamic and exciting profession turning your art passion and creative skills to help people.


Whether you seek career progression or a more meaningful way of living that involves supporting people, this career gives you a perfect chance to realise your goals.


Those determined and committed to succeeding will find the learning experience motivating and fun. Becoming a registered Arts Therapist allows you to enjoy endless career possibilities in various roles and industries.


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