Qualified art therapists have an understanding of art, are proficient in verbal communication and provide a trusting and facilitating environment in which patients are able to safely express themselves.
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They help their clients find an outlet for often complex and confusing emotions, which they may not necessarily be able to express verbally. They also foster self awareness and confidence. Part of an art therapist role is to devise distinct ways of working with clients in different environments. This may include providing a secure environment and a variety of art materials to those who cannot speak, allowing the art itself to become a valuable means of communication.
In group work, an art therapist will encourage members to relate to each other via the art they produce. The images and their meanings for the group will need to be worked through which can take some time.
Qualified art therapists work in a variety of settings, these include:
Art therapists might be called a vareity of titles, depending on their work setting. For example, they may be known as art tutors within prisons or group workerswithin social services. In all cases, their training will mean contributing their knowledge and expertise to the multidisciplinary teams involved.
Experienced practitioners may go on to a training, supervisory or management role, perhaps as head of an arts therapy department. Some arts therapists go on to take further training in psychotherapy.
Job vacancies are advertised in a range of places. Most NHS trusts will advertise their vacancies on the NHS Jobs website. Some will advertise in trade journals and trust websites. For a list of trusts, please visit the NHS Choices website
There are occasionally opportunities to work alongside art therapists and other mental health professionals in related roles.