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Become An Art Therapy Specialist

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Working As An Art Therapy Specialist

  • Assisting and Caring for Others
  • Thinking Creatively
  • Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships
  • Documenting/Recording Information
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Deal with People

  • Unpleasant/Angry People

  • Mostly Sitting

  • Make Decisions

  • $69,000

    Average Salary

What Does An Art Therapy Specialist Do

Recreational therapists plan, direct, and coordinate recreation-based treatment programs for people with disabilities, injuries, or illnesses. These therapists use a variety of modalities, including arts and crafts; drama, music, and dance; sports and games; aquatics; and community outings to help maintain or improve a patient’s physical, social, and emotional well-being.

Duties

Recreational therapists typically do the following:

  • Assess patients’ needs through observations, medical records, tests, and discussions with other healthcare professionals, patients’ families, and patients
  • Create treatment plans and programs that meet patients’ needs and interests
  • Plan and implement interventions to prevent harm to a patient
  • Engage patients in therapeutic activities, such as exercise, games, and community outings
  • Help patients learn social skills needed to become or remain independent
  • Teach patients about ways to cope with stress, anxiety, or depression
  • Record and analyze a patient’s progress
  • Evaluate interventions for effectiveness

Recreational therapists help people reduce depression, stress, and anxiety; recover basic physical and mental abilities; build confidence; and socialize effectively.

They use activities, such as arts and crafts, dance, or sports, to help their patients. For example, a recreational therapist can help a patient who is paralyzed on one side of their body by teaching them to adapt activities, like casting a fishing rod or swinging a golf club, by using their functional side.

Therapists often treat specific groups of patients, such as children with cancer. Therapists may use activities such as kayaking or a ropes course to teach patients to stay active and to form social relationships.

Recreational therapists help people with disabilities integrate into the community by teaching them how to use community resources and recreational activities. For example, therapists may teach a patient who uses a wheelchair how to use public transportation.

Therapists may also provide interventions for patients who need help developing social and coping skills. For example, a therapist may use a therapy dog to help patients manage their depression or anxiety.

Therapists may work with physicians or surgeons, registered nurses, psychologists, social workers, physical therapists, teachers, or occupational therapists. Recreational therapists are different from recreation workers, who organize recreational activities primarily for enjoyment.

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How To Become An Art Therapy Specialist

Recreational therapists typically need a bachelor’s degree. Many employers require therapists to be certified by the National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification (NCTRC).

Education

Recreational therapists typically need a bachelor’s degree, usually in recreational therapy or a related field such as recreation and leisure studies.

Recreational therapy programs include courses in assessment, human anatomy, medical and psychiatric terminology, characteristics of illnesses and disabilities, and the use of assistive devices and technology. Bachelor’s degree programs usually include an internship.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Most employers, particularly those in hospitals and other clinical settings, prefer to hire certified recreational therapists. The NCTRC offers the Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist (CTRS) credential. Candidates may qualify for certification through one of two pathways. The first option requires a bachelor’s degree in recreational therapy, which includes the completion of a supervised internship of at least 560 hours, and passing an exam. The second option also requires passing an exam, but allows candidates with a bachelor’s degree in an unrelated subject to qualify with a combination of education and work experience. Therapists must take continuing education classes to maintain certification.

NCTRC also offers specialty certification in five areas of practice: behavioral health, community inclusion services, developmental disabilities, geriatrics, and physical medicine/rehabilitation. Therapists also may earn certificates from other organizations to show proficiency in specific therapy techniques, such as aquatic therapy or aromatherapy.

As of 2014, only New Hampshire, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Utah required recreational therapists to obtain a license. Requirements vary by state. For specific requirements, contact the state’s medical board.

Important Qualities

Compassion. Recreational therapists should be kind and empathetic when providing support to patients and their families. They may deal with patients who are in pain or under emotional stress.

Leadership skills. Recreational therapists must be able to plan, develop, and implement intervention programs in an effective manner. They must be engaging and able to motivate patients to participate in a variety of therapeutic activities.

Listening skills. Recreational therapists must listen carefully to a patient’s problems and concerns. They can then determine an appropriate course of treatment for that patient.

Patience. Recreational therapists may work with some patients who require more time and special attention than others.

Resourcefulness. Recreational therapists customize treatment plans for patients. They must be both creative and flexible when adapting activities or programs to each patient’s needs.

Speaking skills. Recreational therapists need to communicate well with their patients. They must give clear directions during activities or instructions on healthy coping techniques.

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Art Therapy Specialist Career Paths

Art Therapy Specialist
Therapist Case Manager
Director Of Social Services
6 Yearsyrs
Therapist Clinician Case Manager
Patient Care Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Therapist Clinical Supervisor
Clinical Director
9 Yearsyrs
Counselor/Art Therapist Clinician Program Manager
Service Program Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Counselor/Art Therapist Clinician Case Manager
Clinical Services Director
11 Yearsyrs
Instructor Massage Therapist
Lead Therapist
5 Yearsyrs
Instructor Team Leader Program Director
Director Of Program Services
8 Yearsyrs
Instructor Administrator Registered Nurse Case Manager
Director Of Health Services
10 Yearsyrs
Artist Supervisor Superintendent
Resident Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Artist Adjunct Instructor Registered Nurse Case Manager
Clinical Care Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Artist Adjunct Instructor Nurse Manager
Health Director
9 Yearsyrs
Adjunct Professor Supervisor Clinical Supervisor
Clinical Program Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Adjunct Professor Program Manager Clinical Director
Outpatient Services Director
9 Yearsyrs
Adjunct Professor Psychotherapist Social Work Supervisor
Director Of Social Work
6 Yearsyrs
Counselor Lead Teacher House Manager
Housing Director
6 Yearsyrs
Counselor Administrator Nurse Manager
Administrative Director, Behavioral Health Services
11 Yearsyrs
Counselor Social Worker Mental Health Clinician
Mental Health Program Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Mental Health Counselor Lead Teacher Center Director
Director Of Family Service Center
9 Yearsyrs
Counselor/Art Therapist Mental Health Therapist Social Work Case Manager
Geriatric Care Manager
9 Yearsyrs
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Do you work as an Art Therapy Specialist?

Help others decide if this is a good career for them

Do you work as an Art Therapy Specialist?

Average Yearly Salary
$69,000
View Detailed Salary Report
$39,000
Min 10%
$69,000
Median 50%
$69,000
Median 50%
$69,000
Median 50%
$69,000
Median 50%
$69,000
Median 50%
$69,000
Median 50%
$69,000
Median 50%
$121,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
KVC Behavioral Healthcare
Highest Paying City
Madison, WI
Highest Paying State
North Dakota
Avg Experience Level
2.9 years
How much does an Art Therapy Specialist make at top companies?
The national average salary for an Art Therapy Specialist in the United States is $69,346 per year or $33 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $39,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $121,000.

Real Art Therapy Specialist Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Specialist, 20Th Century/Contemporary Art Phillips Auctioneers LLC New York, NY Nov 16, 2015 $220,000
Art Therapist Family Touch Leonia, NJ Nov 22, 2016 $55,120
Art Therapist Heartsong Inc. White Plains, NY Sep 22, 2010 $48,272
Art Therapist Columbia University New York, NY Jul 12, 2011 $47,902
Recreational Art Therapist Nassau Health Care Corporation Uniondale, NY Oct 05, 2012 $46,391
Art Therapist American Wheat Mission Inc. Teaneck, NJ Aug 13, 2016 $46,060
Art Therapist Heartsong Inc. Scarsdale, NY Jun 02, 2010 $45,434
Art Therapist Heartsong Inc. Scarsdale, NY May 16, 2010 $45,282
Art Therapist William Beaumont Hospital Madison Heights, MI Mar 12, 2015 $44,850
Art Therapist Heartshare Human Services of New York New York, NY May 09, 2008 $44,200
Art Therapist William Beaumont Hospital Madison Heights, MI Mar 12, 2012 $43,117
IHT Clinician Art Therapist South Shore Mental Health Center Inc. Quincy, MA Sep 08, 2012 $41,740
Art Therapist Family Touch Inc. Leonia, NJ Aug 20, 2016 $39,653
Recreational Therapists/Art Therapists Douglas A. Thom Clinic, Inc. Plainville, MA Sep 22, 2011 $37,500
Art Therapist The Korean American Family Service Center NY Sep 15, 2014 $36,648
Art Therapist Interval House Long Beach, CA Oct 01, 2012 $36,504

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Top Skills for An Art Therapy Specialist

  1. Group Therapy Sessions
  2. Treatment Plans
  3. Mental Health
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Provided individual/family and/or group therapy sessions to assigned consumers.
  • Participated in hospital wide work group that developed standardized treatment plans.
  • Provided counseling and mental health groups for the adult residential and day treatment client's focusing on addictions and depression.
  • Developed and taught art curriculum for elementary levels.
  • Provide primary therapist/case management services and impart clinical input into developing appropriate treatment plans in addition to handling clinical crisis interventions.

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Top 10 Best States for Art Therapy Specialists

  1. Alaska
  2. California
  3. Minnesota
  4. Washington
  5. District of Columbia
  6. Connecticut
  7. Nevada
  8. Oregon
  9. New Jersey
  10. Arizona
  • (3 jobs)
  • (192 jobs)
  • (18 jobs)
  • (21 jobs)
  • (5 jobs)
  • (8 jobs)
  • (4 jobs)
  • (9 jobs)
  • (19 jobs)
  • (33 jobs)

Art Therapy Specialist Demographics

Gender

Female

72.9%

Male

16.3%

Unknown

10.8%
Ethnicity

White

64.1%

Hispanic or Latino

14.0%

Black or African American

11.2%

Asian

7.2%

Unknown

3.5%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

39.1%

French

15.5%

Italian

6.4%

Mandarin

5.5%

Chinese

4.5%

Hebrew

4.5%

Portuguese

3.6%

German

3.6%

Arabic

3.6%

Bambara

1.8%

Japanese

1.8%

Polish

1.8%

Cantonese

1.8%

Sanskrit

0.9%

Vietnamese

0.9%

Yoruba

0.9%

Dakota

0.9%

Turkish

0.9%

Hindi

0.9%

Tagalog

0.9%
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Art Therapy Specialist Education

Schools

George Washington University

8.5%

Hofstra University

8.2%

Drexel University

7.8%

New York University

6.7%

College of New Rochelle

6.4%

Lesley University

5.2%

School of the Art Institute of Chicago

5.1%

School of Visual Arts

4.9%

Pratt Institute-Main

4.9%

Loyola Marymount University

4.9%

Wayne State University

4.2%

Albertus Magnus College

4.1%

Marywood University

4.1%

Mount Mary University

3.9%

Eastern Virginia Medical School

3.8%

Southwestern College

3.8%

Long Island University - C W Post Campus

3.6%

University of Louisville

3.6%

Florida State University

3.4%

Ursuline College

3.1%
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Majors

Rehabilitation Science

42.6%

Fine Arts

11.9%

General Education, Specific Areas

5.0%

Graphic Design

4.6%

Psychology

4.3%

Education

3.9%

School Counseling

3.5%

Elementary Education

3.5%

Mental Health Counseling

3.2%

Family Therapy

2.8%

Counseling Psychology

2.2%

Special Education

2.1%

Social Work

1.7%

Clinical Psychology

1.6%

Photography

1.4%

Business

1.3%

Visual And Performing Arts

1.2%

Communication

1.2%

Liberal Arts

1.1%

Physical Therapy

1.1%
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Degrees

Masters

54.2%

Bachelors

23.8%

Other

12.6%

Certificate

3.9%

Associate

2.7%

Doctorate

2.2%

License

0.3%

Diploma

0.2%
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