Students interested in both art and mental health services can prepare to become art therapists at Siena Heights University. A recognized mental health profession, art therapy uses art-making to improve the physical, mental and emotional well-being of people of all ages. Art therapists work with children and adults in private and institutional settings, in one-on-one sessions, and in group meetings.
The American Art Therapy Association defines the profession this way:
Art therapy is an established mental health profession that uses the creative process of art-making to improve and enhance the physical, mental and emotional well-being of individuals of all ages. It is based on the belief that the creative process involved in artistic self-expression helps people to resolve conflicts and problems, develop interpersonal skills, manage behavior, reduce stress, increase self-esteem and self-awareness, and achieve insight (http://www.arttherapy.org)
Employment in this field requires the practitioner to hold a Master's degree in Art Therapy. Admission to such programs requires a Bachelor's degree that includes a minimum of eighteen semester hours in Studio Art ensuring the student is proficient in a variety of art media, including drawing, painting and sculpture or ceramics. Such programs also require at least twelve semester hours in psychology, including general psychology, abnormal psychology, and developmental psychology.
At Siena, we encourage students who are interested in entering this field of art therapy to complete a BFA in Art and a minor in psychology. Undergraduate experiences should include, in addition to the minimum requirements listed above, advanced skills in one or more of the studio art disciplines and knowledge of the basics principles of sociology and cultural anthropology.