Art Therapy Certification Guide

Art therapists use creative expression as a method of psychological therapy. Art therapy can help mental health patients, trauma survivors, people recovering from substance abuse, and the chronically ill. Art therapists who pursue certification through the Art Therapy Credentials Board (ATCB) validate their skills and knowledge as practitioners, opening the door to career opportunities nationwide.

Read on to learn more about art therapy certification.

Benefits of Certification

While some art therapists do not need ATCB certification to practice, many states require it. Some states also have additional requirements. Certification makes an art therapist more employable, as it demonstrates thorough knowledge of the field and the completion of ethical obligations outlined by the ATCB.

Provisional registered art therapists (ATR-P) are therapists who have completed their education requirements, but remain in the process of completing direct supervised practice.

While some art therapists do not need ATCB certification to practice, many states require it

Registered art therapists (ATR) must hold a master's degree with practicum and internship hours. In addition, they must complete supervised clinical practice, possibly under the ATR-P designation.

Board certified art therapists (ATR-BC) hold the highest possible credential for art therapy. Applicants must qualify for ATR certification and complete an additional examination.

Art therapy certified supervisors (ATCS) are approved to supervise ATR-P therapists completing advanced clinical practice.

Art Therapy Certification Process

Art therapy certification is a national process orchestrated by the ATCB. Art therapists must hold a master's degree to qualify for any of ATCB's four art therapy certifications. Depending on the particular certification, participants may need additional clinical hours, experience working in the field, or passing scores on the ATCB examination.

Certified therapists benefit from affiliation with the organization that sets professional and ethical standards for art therapists. The ATCB's code of ethics emphasizes client welfare; professional competence and integrity; and responsibility to students, supervisees, research participants, and the profession at large.

Provisional Registered Art Therapist (ATR-P) Icon - Plus/Minus

Cost

$60 application fee, plus a $25 yearly maintenance fee

Length of Time to Complete

Five years

Steps to Take

  1. Complete a minimum of 24 graduate semester credits (or 36 quarter credits) in art therapy core curriculum
  2. Complete a minimum of 18 semester credit hours (or 27 quarter credit hours) in studio art based courses
  3. Complete a minimum of 1,500 post-education hours of direct client contact and 150 hours of supervision with a board certified art therapist
  4. Apply online

Registered Art Therapist (ATR) Icon - Plus/Minus

Cost

$125 application fee, plus a $100 yearly maintenance fee

Length of Time to Complete

One year

Steps to Take

  1. Complete a minimum of 24 graduate credits (or 36 quarter credits) in art therapy core curriculum, plus 18 credits of mental health core requirements
  2. Complete a minimum of 18 credits (or 27 quarter credit hours) in studio based courses
  3. Complete a minimum of 1500 post-education hours of direct client contact and 150 hours of supervision with a board certified art therapist
  4. Apply online

Board Certified Art Therapist (ATR-BC) Icon - Plus/Minus

Cost

$275 examination fee, plus a $100 yearly maintenance fee

Length of Time to Complete

The examination lasts four hours

Steps to Take

  1. Complete the requirements for the ATR credential, as described above
  2. Submit ATR-BC online application, including fees, at least six weeks before the desired testing date
  3. Wait for an email from Pearson VUE, which arrives three weeks before the testing date with the candidate's testing ID and instructions for scheduling the exam
  4. Take the computer test on the designated date

Art Therapy Certified Supervisor (ATCS) Icon - Plus/Minus

Cost

$115 application fee, plus a $25 yearly maintenance fee

Length of Time to Complete

ATR-BC credential must remain active for at least 24 months prior to application

Steps to Take

  1. Complete the requirements for the ATR-BC credential, as listed above
  2. Complete 35 credits of continuing education specifically related to art therapy in clinical supervision. Credits must meet ATCB requirements for recertification
  3. Verify the completion of at least 36 months and 500 hours of advising art therapists in a clinical or academic environment
  4. Apply online

Resources

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