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Become An Expressive Art Therapist

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Working As An Expressive Art Therapist

  • 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 Expressive Art Therapist 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 Expressive Art Therapist

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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Top Skills for An Expressive Art Therapist

  1. Group Therapy Sessions
  2. Treatment Plans
  3. Mental Health Services
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Administered assessments and interventions to support individualized treatment plans for clients of varying ages, diagnoses, cultures.
  • Provided mental health services to clients age 2+ to elderly; individual, family, and group.
  • Conduct expressive arts group therapy workshops for various clients diagnosed with psychiatric illnesses.
  • Trained in nonviolent communication and nonviolent crisis intervention for psychiatric emergencies within the hospital.
  • Facilitate communications for nursing and rehabilitation staff; report to administration board members on a weekly basis ensuring quality patient care.

Expressive Art Therapist Demographics

Gender

Female

80.6%

Unknown

12.0%

Male

7.4%
Ethnicity

White

63.4%

Hispanic or Latino

15.2%

Black or African American

10.0%

Asian

6.3%

Unknown

5.1%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

50.0%

French

25.0%

German

12.5%

Thai

12.5%
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Expressive Art Therapist Education

Schools

Lesley University

27.3%

California Institute of Integral Studies

12.1%

Antioch University-New England

4.5%

School of the Art Institute of Chicago

4.5%

Drexel University

4.5%

University of Louisville

4.5%

Saybrook University

4.5%

Springfield College

3.0%

Pratt Institute-Main

3.0%

Eastern Virginia Medical School

3.0%

Appalachian State University

3.0%

Columbia College Chicago

3.0%

Ottawa University

3.0%

Chicago School of Professional Psychology

3.0%

Southwestern College

3.0%

Lehman College of the City University of New York

3.0%

Albertus Magnus College

3.0%

Emporia State University

3.0%

Radford University

3.0%

Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania

1.5%
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Majors

Rehabilitation Science

37.7%

Counseling Psychology

12.3%

Mental Health Counseling

11.4%

Psychology

9.6%

School Counseling

4.4%

Fine Arts

4.4%

Physical Therapy

4.4%

Alternative And Complementary Medicine And Medical Systems

1.8%

Elementary Education

1.8%

Clinical Psychology

1.8%

Education

1.8%

Social Work

1.8%

Sociology

0.9%

General Education, Specific Areas

0.9%

Medical Technician

0.9%

Music

0.9%

Food And Nutrition

0.9%

Pastoral Counseling And Specialized Ministries

0.9%

Museum Studies

0.9%

Theology

0.9%
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Degrees

Masters

72.5%

Bachelors

8.3%

Other

7.5%

Doctorate

5.8%

Certificate

5.0%

Associate

0.8%
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