How to Become an Art Therapist in 2019 (5 steps)

I’ll share with you the five steps to become an art therapist in the U.S., in 2019. I am Youhjung and I was trained as an art therapist and currently working on a freelance basis. If you are still deciding or you’re just curious about becoming an art therapist this will definitely help you have more clarity on what’s really involved in becoming an art therapist in 2019 The very first step is to study psychology, studio art or other related field for your undergraduate degree. You want to have or be almost done with a bachelor’s degree and make sure you have credits in psychology and studio art. Usually it’s 12 credits in psychology and 18 credits in art. The second step is to find graduate or therapy programs and apply to them. To become an art therapist in the U.S., you need at least a master’s degree as a minimum. You want to make sure that the program that you attend to is AATA approved – which means “American Art Therapy Association” approved or accredited. That way is easier for you to get your licensure or certification in the future. Currently there are 20 states that have graduate art therapy programs and I know definitely that the big cities and urban areas have more programs; so I know New York Pennsylvania, and Illinois, have the most number of programs while some other states like, Alaska Georgia, or Texas don’t have any programs at all. So if that’s the case where you’re living in and there’s no program in your state You might have to consider moving to a different state or you can also do a online or distance learning program. To apply for the programs you will need to have some relevant experience so that could be through work or It could be through volunteer experience. And you also need a portfolio. In addition, you need all the usual college application materials like resume, statement of purpose, recommendation letter, transcript, and all that stuff. For a list of programs that you could go to, you can visit the AATA web page ( Or you can also download my free checklist PDF, which I have linked below in the description box. It has all of the detailed steps and some resources that you would need to to become an art therapist Also, let me know why you are interested in becoming an art therapist. I would love to know what your story is. The third step is to finish and graduate from your art therapy master’s program. (Receive your degree) During your education you’ll go through internships, working in different places as an art therapy intern You’ll do a thesis project, take psychology and art therapy courses, and your professors are most likely our therapists currently practicing in the field as well as other therapists and psychologists. You’ll also be making art in classes as part of experiencing different materials and directives and you’ll most likely to be doing art in your own time. And finally, you’ll probably be seeing a therapist for yourself during your education and training because you need to experience what’s it like to do therapy to become a therapist and it’s always helpful to have a therapist too. Be coming an art therapists can involve a lot of inner work. The fourth step is to work on your certification or licensure after you graduate. This part will look different depending on which state you’re living and working in. Some states have licensure for art therapists and some states don’t. If they don’t have a state license then you will be working towards your ATR-BC certification, which means that you will become a Registered and Certified Art Therapist. (To get that) what you will be doing as you’ll be working as an art therapist under an art therapist supervisor and also be taking the art therapy (board) exam. You could be working as an art therapist, you could be volunteering and getting hours. You could be having a similar role or position at work, but you’ll definitely going to be providing art therapy under supervision. Usually the (total) hours are thousand hours of direct client contact and this can depend on whether you graduated from AATA approved program or not and what kind of master’s degree you have. If there is a state license in the state you’re living in then you will probably be working towards that licensure and the certification at the same time and usually the requirements can overlap, for the most part, but you’ll have to look into that. (Always research your state’s requirements) This will involve working a certain number of hours under supervision under a therapist, or maybe an art therapist and also taking an exam in the areas of counseling or in the areas of psychotherapy or you might be just using your ATR-BC (board certification) exam as one of the requirements for this licensure. The number of hours that you will be providing therapy or art therapy can range depending on the state, so it could be from one thousand hours to three thousand hours. And finally after that you gain your certification and license you’ll be working as an art therapist. You could be working at different places and you can also own a private practice and see clients on your own. This journey to become an art therapist might take two or more years for the master’s degree and a few years in addition to that to become licensed or certified in the U.S. If you want a detailed list of all the steps I mentioned in this video and more resources, you can go download my checklist PDF. And again, it’s in the description box below and please like this video if you want to see more information on art therapy as a career. Thank you for watching and I’ll talk to you next time. Bye! 🙂


  1. Thanks for watching! What made you interested in art therapy? Where are you in the journey to become an art therapist? 🙂

  2. Love your videos! 💕

  3. Very relaxing. I love art not seeking yo become an art therpist but i love relaxing videos

  4. Personally I'm just an artist Haha but I think art therapy is such a beautiful and useful tool to help people!

  5. Hello 🙂 I am very happy about your work on this youtube channel. It is very interesting and inspiring. I am working in the organizational psychology area. Before I worked with kids and enjoyed this very much. All the best to you 😀

  6. You and your sister are my favourite YouTubers 💕

  7. New subscriber!!! 🙋🏻‍♀️🙋🏻‍♀️

  8. Can you do a tour of all of your art supply? Im struggling to donate all of the art supply i dont use even though it still makes me very anxious the amount of stuff. Did you used to own a lot of art supply before your journey? How were you able to overcome your thoughts and declutter to what you needed?

  9. Have just subscribed and come across from Youheum's channel.
    All the best for your channel.
    Much love from Switzerland.

  10. I’m very curious about your work. I am working to be an ESL teacher and work with a lot of kids from immigrant and refugee communities. I’d be very interested in some of the ways you use art therapy with kids. I would love to find ways to integrate more art activities into my lessons, especially since a lot of the kids I work with have experienced a lot of trauma.

  11. Wow thank you so much! You are amazingly kind to prepare all of this information in such an organized fashion. Thank you for taking the time and effort.

  12. Here from Heal Your Living!

  13. I never considered this as an employment opportunity but this vid has opened my eyes!!!

  14. Thank you for the video and the resources!

  15. I am here from your lovely sister’s channel! Will you make videos on minimalism as well?

  16. 🍃lovely🍃

  17. I am really interestes in art therapy as a topic (but not as a career). Your video is beautiful

  18. Very interesting 🙂

  19. Sounds complicated. In Germany you just need "Abitur" that's a graduation after school you usually reach after the 12th or 13th year of school; it's in authorization to go to university. Then you just choose to study arttherapy. It takes four years to be completed (the semesters that are needed take four years without any breaks or rerun). Two Internships are included, it's one semester if I remember correctly… Then you reached the bachelor degree. You can already apply to jobs with that bachelor degree, a master's is just needed if you want to work in research or be an arttherapy professor. What really is a good thing to do after reaching the bachelor degree is for example the "nonmedical practitioner for psychotherapy" license. With that you can work as an self-employed professional. it is a bit confusing that we have official arttherapy programs but "art therapist" has no copyright, it's not a patent, you can call yourself an arttherapist if you are a psychologist that did an art workshop for a weekend. That's pretty sad.

  20. Do you do remote art therapy sessions? I live in the UK, and not sure if it would be possible for you to deliver and me to receive art therapy through something like Skype or another video conference tool.

  21. So relaxing ❤

  22. Wow I didn’t realise it was that much of a process!

  23. the way you both talk in your videos together with the images and the pastel tones in your house or objects you use makes me feel like hypnotized in a way and so relaxed even without doing nothing ,just listening and watching 🙂 great channel !

  24. Hi! I enjoyed the video thank you! Currently, I am an undergrad majoring in Public Health and minoring in Business Administration. I was wondering if I still could apply for a graduate program even though I’m not majoring in Psychology or the Fine Arts as an undergrad. Thank you 🙂

  25. Thanks for describing the process so thoroughly! Watching you make art pieces in this video is soothing and therapeutic itself. Where did you get the green dress from? I guess one of the etsy linen shops, but do you mind telling me which one?

  26. Thanks for sharing 💗 can you share your favorite books about art therapy and how you know art therapist for you

  27. Niceeeeeee

  28. Thank you for this! I just started getting intrested in art therapy because I love the idea of fusing art and helping people through whatever they're going through. I'm currently in undergrad studying Digital Media production and have been thinking about getting my master's soon.

  29. Last year I volunteered teaching art at a school for children with special needs for community service hours. Throughout the class I realized how relaxed they all became and I found joy in seeing them be able to express themselves in ways their words could not. Many of the kids were nonverbal or didn't speak much but still opened up and seemed to feel safe when they started drawing. After that I looked into art therapy or teaching art to kids with autism and other disabilities and after researching I decide that I'd like to consider becoming an art therapist/special needs art teacher.

  30. Thank you for sharing!
    In Oregon art therapy is not a recognized license. It is important for people to understand the limitations and opportunities in their own state.

  31. I'm a physics student, so I am rather not going to end up as an art therapist, but I was just watching the video out of curiosity and to have better understanding on the background of an art therapist when I meet one.

  32. I want to become an Art Therapist but I'm confused now.what should I do.??thank you

  33. Thank you for this video, it was so helpful ❤️ I am going to download to checklist ☺️

  34. This is so helpful! Tysm!

  35. Would you not mind giving me some feedback on my plan to become an art therapist?
    Step 1: take all the classes I can from my BA in psych (Minor in art) at a community college, and then transfer to a 4 year to graduate…all the while I will be volunteering/working in a related field
    Step 2: After getting my BA I will transfer to a masters program
    Step 3: Then I will get registered as an art therapist
    How long would you say the process takes, from start to finish…especially if you can't have a full course load because you're paying for schooling on your own?

    By the way, lovely information! I've never gone to college before, and my parents aren't much help either. To answer your question at the end- I want to be an art therapist because I know, from personal experience, that artistic expression holds so much meaning that is usually not addressed or looked into. After creating artwork, I find that much of it is tied to trauma in my past- I've been using art as a way to process this since I was a little girl. I hope that I can help others express themselves and unpack any pain or struggles they have been experiencing.

  36. I think it’s important to note that not every graduate art therapy program requires a thesis. Some allow capstone projects that can be research-based or art-based. If they did, I don’t know if I would’ve went in to the field as I am not a research person. ☺️

  37. I always knew art was something I always wanted to do. I feel this is my calling! I only have a bachelor's degree in digital though. It's not what I wanted to do but kind of settled. Thank you for this!

  38. hello! i’m a senior in high school and i’m starting to look into being an art therapist. about how many years did it take you? starting from college to eventually being licensed? thank you!!

  39. Thank U very much for your both soothing and very informative videos. I'm a teacher of English and a fashion designer, Poland-based. I'm already an artist but I want to look at art from different angle I guess studies of this type could help me. There are some universities in Poland that provide education in this field but I'm interested in some high quality courses in English online (such that would guarantee me a valid certificate. Could you direct me to any sources of this kind, please. (and approximately what's the cost of such a course?)

  40. Any advice for schools in Florida for school with programs

  41. ever since i had art therapy at a partial hospitalization program i fell in love and i knew it was what i wanted to do <3. for classes like psychology and studio art, what types of generals would you need for those? do you have any ideas? please let me know! thank you!

  42. Hello! I have been a hidden artist my entire life and only in the last few years have un-closeted myself. I have been a single parent raising kids and struggling at at desk hub, very unsatisfactory and low paying work- but it was flexible and I could be there for my children. Now, I just dropped my youngest at college and want to reinvent my life. I am an artist and also have a strong desire to help people. This seems like a perfect fit, however I only have a Bachelor of Arts- do you think it realistic for me to start this process at 51 years old?

  43. 안뇽하세요!! 한국계 미국인 세라믹과 미대생이에요! 이렇게 미술마름 언니의 채널을 찾게 되어서 너무 기뻐요.
    저는 우울증을 드문드문 앓고있고, 이걸 이겨내보자 하는 마음에 심리학을 공부한다던가 하는 학술적인 접근도 해보고, 열심히 그림도 그려보고, 명상도 해봤어요!
    저번학기에 우울해서 self portrait을 만드는 과제에, 임사체험을 하듯이 3인칭으로 죽은 날 바라보는 작품을 만들고, 그것에 대해 크리틱을 하다가 막 펑펑 울고ㅠㅠㅠ 그리고는 교수님이 저를 학교 상담사한테 보내주셨죠ㅠㅠㅋㅋㅋ
    그렇게 상담사 선생님의 도움을 받은 후 부터 죽은듯 감겨있었던 얼굴에, 명상을 하듯 편안한 표정이 점점 더해진거 같아요. 유약을 바르고 다 구워져 나왔을 땐 편하게 꿈을 꾸고 있는 사람 같았어요.
    창작활동이 치료로서 이루어질 수 있다는걸 깨닫고 아트테라피스트라는 목표를 잡은거 같아요.
    일단은 내 자신을 아프게 하고 싶지 않았다는 마음도 컸구요, 친구들의 고민을 들어주고 공감하면서 오히려 내 자신이 치유되는 것도 느낀거 같아요.
    친구한테 위로의 말을 건네면서 "아 나한테도 해도 되는 말이구나" 를 깨달은거 같기도 해요!!
    아무튼 이렇게 만나서 너무 반가워요!! 채널 앞으로 잘 볼게요. 같은 필드에 있으면 언젠간 꼭 만나겠죠?! 기대하고 있을게요

  44. Hello, I am a senior in high school, when it comes to deciding what I want to do is complicated. Recently found out about Art Therapist and really found a possible path for me. Could you explain about the minimum wages/yearly salary?

  45. Thanks for your video for introducing art therapy!
    I am a registered pediatric nurse in Taiwan and really interested in art therapy. Is it ok if i don't have a psychology bachelor degree while applying the master degree?

  46. Pretty helpful. I have never seen a youtuber that kinda relaxing, nice and kind. Please keep making videos.

  47. Hello 🙂 Would you mind explaining how work visa works for art therapists?? An art therapy-wannabe from South Korea here.

  48. I already have my counseling degree and was going to do my LPCC, but now I think I might want to try ATR. How is the job outlook or demand for art therapy?

  49. This was really nice to watch. Currently I want to be an art therapist, but I am really worried about job security in the future. I don't know what to expect and I am EXTREMELY scared.

  50. Pls I am interested in studying MA in art therapy next year 2020 I’m a bit late now for 2019 and I want to start preparing for 2020 and I have a degree in Animation and Motion design …. can u pls make a video on art therapy Portfolio sample and what kind of work should we put in the portfolio…it will really help ❤️❤️❤️ thanks

  51. Thanks for making this video<3 I remember looking up how to be an art therapist years ago and not being able to find much info on it. This helps tremendously! I think that I'm going to go for it, but it will require some shifting. I am currently an online film student at Full Sail..7 months in, have a year and a half left. Thinking of doing a psychology bachelors at another online school at the same time + studio art classes at my local community college. ORRR should I ditch my film school & transfer to Naropa? Also, does the bachelors degree title not matter as long as you have studio art + psychology credits?

  52. Thanks for this video, I finally know the purpose of my existence. I am an artist/designer I have Bachelor in Multimedia Arts and I am considering psychology also and this is the job that I think I will succeed, I enjoy teaching arts(lettering) but I know there is still lacking. Sadly, there is no specific course offered here in the Philippines. I suffered depression before and would it affect my career as an art therapist? Do I have to be exempted from depression?

  53. I want to become an Art therapist because I’ve been through therapy my entire life, experienced Manic BiPolar and some pretty rough anxiety. I believe in Art Therapy as a kind of coping mechanism. Personally it has helped be by keeping my hands and mind busy and helping me express myself. Thank you for sharing!

  54. I go to therapy but regular therapy doesn’t work for me. Now I’ve loved art since I was a child and I’ve definitely grew. Art does work when regular therapy doesn’t work. So I want to become an art therapist for those who feel the same.

  55. I am so happy I stumbled upon your YouTube channel! I am an artist and have been creating art in paintings, drawings, pottery, photography; since I can remember! It has been and always was a way for myself to cope with mental health issues growing up. I didn’t realize I was doing this or how it helped me until a few years ago when I knew my path was in clinical psychology. I decided if I can help children and adolescents cope with trauma through art, I’d be following what I was meant to do. I’m currently getting my BA in psychology in New Mexico and don’t have too many outlets or resources around me so my “next step” has always been something I’ve been very unsure of. I’m going to print your notes to help me further my education and look into graduate schools. 💛

  56. Awesome, I interested learn because I am a cancer survivor and would like to help other cancer patient to be free from cancer using art therapy, I have studied in art (university). Thanks. I am in Singapore. I also a youtuber. Thanks

  57. Hi, thank you for the video! I have an MFA degree in art & design. I am have been working professionally in commercial design field for almost 10 years. But I feel an urge to help and heal others and myself. This feeling grows stronger everyday. If I start now to pursue a path to be art therapist, how many years does it take? I am also hesitated because Basically it is a transition to new field for me. Thank you!

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