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Art Therapist

Year 12 Preferred University Course Subject Prerequisites Police Check First Aid Working With Children check

Art therapists work with a client or a group of clients to help them address emotional and psychological issues through creative activities such as drawing, painting, sculpting and collage.

Art therapists work in any area where people require assistance with achieving a better quality of mental health. This includes psychiatric wards, prisons, rehabilitation centres, and drug and alcohol units.


    Art therapists may perform the following tasks:

  • conduct therapeutic interviews and provide psychotherapy and counselling
  • provide assessments to identify the source of problems and determine appropriate treatment
  • provide follow-up services to groups and individuals for support and evaluation purposes
  • build relationships with clients to support them in understanding their emotions and behaviours
  • assess individuals and groups in order to identify their abilities and needs
  • develop activities that may use painting, sculpting, printing and/or drawing to address a patient's needs and concerns in a safe, nurturing environment
  • maintain appropriate records of patient progress
  • provide consultation and information about patient progress
  • assess, monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of artistic and therapeutic interactions


  • interested in people and human behaviour
  • good problem-solving skills
  • an inquisitive mind
  • able to maintain confidentiality
  • patient and perceptive
  • good oral and written communication skills

Interest Area

Clerical/Administrative Medical Influencing/Personal Contact


Year 12 Preferred University Course Subject Prerequisites Police Check First Aid Working With Children check

To become an art therapist you usually have to study art, counselling, psychology, nursing, social science or a related field at university, followed by a postgraduate qualification in art therapy and 750 hours of supervised field experience on a clinical placement.

To get into the degree courses you usually need to gain your HSC/ACT Year 12. Most universities in Australia offer degrees in these areas. Entry to postgraduate courses usually requires completion of an appropriate bachelor degree.

Universities have different prerequisites and some have flexible entry requirements or offer external study.

Contact Open Universities Australia or the universities you are interested in for further information as requirements may change.

The postgraduate course must be recognised by the Australian and New Zealand Arts Therapy Association (ANZATA). See their website for an up-to-date list.

Additional Information

    Before undertaking clinical placements required by courses, students will need to obtain a National Police Certificate, a Provide First Aid Certificate, immunisations and a Working with Children Check (NSW) or a Working with Vulnerable People Check (ACT). Contact the institutions you are interested in for more information.

    In order to practise, art therapists must be registered with ANZATA. To register and become a full member of ANZATA, applicants are required to complete a recognised masters degree in art therapy with a component of 750 supervised clinical hours placement within the mental health area. Once registered with the association, members have reciprocal rights with overseas art therapy associations. Student membership is also available. For more information, visit their website.


Art therapists are employed in public and private hospitals, non-government organisations and community-based organisations such as welfare centres, aged-care facilities and schools. They are also employed in private practice and in private health clinics.

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More Information - External Links

Job Outlook for Art Therapist Australian and New Zealand Arts Therapy Association NSW Working with Children Check Office of Regulatory Services (ACT)

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