Art Therapist

Art therapists, which include dance and drama therapists, use artistic media to help clients maintain and improve their physical and mental health.

Art therapists, dance therapists, and drama therapists use creative and artistic approaches to:

  • treat mental and physical illnesses
  • support individuals who have disabilities
  • promote wellness, creativity, and personal growth.

They provide a supportive environment and therapeutic approaches that use non-verbal processes to facilitate personal or interpersonal awareness and therapeutic change.

They also help people who have difficulty expressing themselves due to physical, emotional, or other limitations. For example, children can sometimes approach difficult issues more easily, and convey messages more clearly, through the creation of art rather than with words.

Art therapists may use visual art, dance, drama, music, or a combination of arts. They use art in treatment, assessment, and research. They provide therapeutic services for individuals and groups of people of all ages. They can also act as consultants for other mental health professionals.

Dance therapists focus on the non-verbal aspects of behaviour. They encourage clients to use creative and expressive movement to address emotional issues and improve emotional and physical health.

Drama therapists use drama, creative play, psychodrama, role play, improvisation and theatre to further clients' emotional growth and integration.

For each client, or group of clients, therapists:

  • assess client needs and strengths
  • identify specific treatment goals and objectives
  • choose an appropriate approach and develop a treatment program
  • implement programs or strategies that involve music, art, drama and/or dance activities
  • evaluate the program's effectiveness on an ongoing basis
  • fine-tune programs as needed.

As members of therapeutic teams or as private practitioners, creative art therapists work closely with other professionals (e.g. psychiatrists, psychologists, teachers, and counsellors).

Photo: Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center

View the full job description (PDF, 448.73KB) to find out more about this career, including education and training requirements, salary range, and benefits.

Full Job Description