Art Therapist

Careers in Mental Health

Frances Griffith, ATR-BC
Art Therapist

Generic Information

  • Assesses information on needs, interests, life experience, deficiencies, and recreational background of patients to provide an initial and comprehensive assessment to select appropriate treatment services.
  • Assesses resident’s/patient’s skills, proficiencies, and knowledge level of program resources to establish appropriate participation level; measures current functioning needs, skills, and limitations to assign appropriate treatment program.
  • Observes patient behavior and interaction with peers to assess needs of resident in relationship to group activity development.
  • Designs and develops individual treatment programs which address patient’s functional needs; writes behavior objectives for patients defining desired behavioral changes
  • Uses art to provide positive life experiences, opportunities for self-expression, and nonverbal communication.
  • Develops recreational treatment plans or utilizes existing plans for community integration which develop and reinforce appropriate behaviors.
  • Develops and maintains documentation of strategies and methods that record resident’s progress in the program.
  • Document and report patient progress toward treatment goals.
  • Works as a part of patient-centered interdisciplinary teams that include psychiatrists, psychologists, nurses, social workers, and other therapists.

Master’s in Art Therapy

  • License issued by Oregon Health Authority Licensing Board
  • Empathetic active listening skills
  • Clinical knowledge, skills and abilities in working with persons with mental illness
  • Ability to function independently and as a part of a patient-centered interdisciplinary
    treatment team
  • Highly attentive to detail, confidentiality, and accuracy
  • Verbal and written communication skills
  • Hospitals
  • Clinics
  • Outpatient mental health agencies
  • Residential treatment centers
  • Schools k-12
  • Domestic violence and homeless shelters
  • Community agencies and nonprofit settings


Art Therapists create a safe, comfortable space for patients to come together and create art. While Art Therapy requires knowledge and experience with different artistic media, patients largely do not need the help of an Art Therapist to make art. Rather, Art Therapists create a comfortable space, facilitate creativity, and encourage patients who might otherwise be disinterested. Art Therapists work as a part of patient-centered interdisciplinary teams along with physicians, psychologists, nurses, social workers, and other mental health care professionals giving input on diagnoses and how to proceed towards recovery.

The Art Therapist provides individualized assessments and treatment programs of Art Therapy. These specialized treatment services are goal-oriented and directed toward rehabilitation and modification of specific physical, emotional, mental, or social behaviors. Based upon their clinical experiences with patients, they provide input to the patients’ recovery care plans. They effectively support personal and relational treatment goals.

For more information on the educational pathway to this and other healthcare careers follow this Link to the Educational Resource page.

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