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New York Health Careers

Creative Arts Therapists

What Do Creative Arts Therapists Do?

Creative arts therapists use active engagement in art, dance or movement, drama, and music as therapeutic approaches to address mental, emotional, developmental, and behavioral disorders of their clients. Creative arts therapists work with individuals of all ages who may have a variety of mental or physical health issues, including those who are temporarily or permanently disabled. Creative arts therapists, working with clients one-on-one or in groups, strive to use creative processes to bring out artistic self-expression to help people resolve conflicts and problems, develop interpersonal skills, manage behavior, reduce stress, increase self-esteem and self-awareness, and achieve insight. Creative art therapy is also used to help people manage stress and promote overall mental and physical well-being.

Creative arts therapists are often part of a larger multidisciplinary rehabilitation team coordinating to develop and implement a client’s therapeutic goals and objectives. Using their skills in art, dance or movement, drama, and music in conjunction with psychotherapeutic theories and methods, creative arts therapists are able to elicit thoughts and feelings from clients to supplement traditional “talk” psychotherapeutic methods. Creative arts therapy uses the relationship between the patient and the therapist in the context of the artistic process as a dynamic force for change and expression.

Where Do Creative Arts Therapists Work?

Creative arts therapists work in a number of institutional and community settings, including hospitals; nursing homes; correctional institutions; adult shelters; schools; community centers; adolescent, substance abuse, and mental health group homes or half-way houses; and adult day care programs. Creative arts therapists usually work a 40-hour week, though they may work some evenings and weekends to account for working with the different populations they serve in non-traditional settings.

What Do Creative Arts Therapists Earn?

Earnings for creative arts therapists vary depending on their type of practice, job responsibilities, and practice location. Generally, creative arts therapists make more in institutional settings than in community settings. Different sources cite annual earnings for creative arts therapists starting at $40,000 for newly trained creative arts therapists and rising from there. Salary for these professionals will vary based on the therapist’s educational degrees, years in the profession, and job position.

Supply and Demand

There are no employment projections for creative arts therapists.

New York Educational Requirements

For creative arts therapists, an undergraduate college education should include coursework in both creative arts and psychopathology, with specific courses in general, developmental, and abnormal psychology. Some colleges may offer an undergraduate degree in creative arts therapy, but a master’s degree or doctorate degree in creative arts therapy or substantial equivalent is required for licensure in New York. Advanced degree programs include additional coursework in fine arts, psychotherapy, and clinical internships.

New York Certification/Licensure Requirements

To be licensed in New York as a creative arts therapist, an individual must have a master’s or doctorate degree in creative arts therapy from a registered, accredited program, or its equivalent and at least 1,500 hours of supervised experience in an approved setting. In addition, an individual must pass one of three exams: the Art Therapy Credentials Board (ATCB) test, the Certification Board for Music Therapists (CBMT) test, or the New York State Case Narrative Exam. For more information on New York State licensure requirements, go to: http://www.op.nysed.gov/prof/mhp/catlic.htm.

Financial Support

In addition to school-based scholarships, scholarships for undergraduate and graduate education are available through national organizations:

for art therapists: http://www.americanarttherapyassociation.org/aata-awards/;

for music therapists: http://www.musictherapy.org/careers/scholars/; and

for dance therapists: https://adta.org/encouraging-scholarship/.

Education Programs in New York (subject to change)

The following programs offer bachelor’s and/or master’s degrees in one or more of the creative arts therapies:

The College of New Rochelle
29 Castle Place
New Rochelle, New York 10805
(914) 654-5000
Hofstra University
Creative Arts Therapy
Hempstead, NY 11549
(516) 463-5300
(516) 463-6600
Long Island University
C.W. Post Campus
720 Northern Boulevard
Brooklville, NY 11548
(516) 299-2465
Molloy College
1000 Hempstead Avenue
Rockville Centre, NY 11571-5002
(516) 323-3320
(888) 4-MOLLOY
Nazareth College
School of Health and Human Services
4245 East Avenue
Rochester, NY 14618
(585) 389-2477
New York University
Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, & Human Development

The Barney Building
34 Stuyvesant Street
New York, NY 10003
(212) 998-5700
Pratt Institute
Creative Arts Therapy Dept.
200 Willoughby Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11205
(718) 636-3600
SUNY New Paltz
1 Hawk Drive
New Paltz, NY 12561
(845) 257-2700
(845) 257-SUNY (7869)
SUNY at Fredonia
School of Music, Mason Hall
280 Central Ave.
Fredonia, NY 14063
(716) 673-3151
Buffalo State- SUNY
1300 Elmwood Ave
Buffalo, NY 14222
(716) 878-4106
School of Visual Arts
132 West 21st St., 3rd floor
New York, NY 10010
(212) 592-2000
Russell Sage College
65 1st Street
Troy, NY 12180
(518) 244-2437
(800) 837-9724
SUNY Plattsburgh
101 Broad Street
Plattsburgh, NY 12901
(518) 564-2464
(518) 564-3374

Additional Web Links

For more information on creative arts therapists, go to:

American Art Therapy Association: http://www.arttherapy.org

American Music Therapy Association: http://www.musictherapy.org

National Association for Drama Therapy: http://www.nadt.org

New York Art Therapy Association: http://www.nyarttherapy.org.

National Coalition of Creative Arts Therapies Association: http://www.nccata.org

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