I am starting a new series of blogs answering questions that I get asked about Art Therapy and counseling. The first in the series is about education. I hope you enjoy the series.
Hello. I am wondering if it is enough to have an Art Therapy diploma or degree or do I need to add more to be a good Art Therapist?
I believe that in this area of work, one should always be exploring new ways of practicing. This could mean going back to university for more degrees, taking weekend workshops, or doing online courses.
There are two important areas to be updating oneself in. One is in the world of counseling where there are always new methods and ways of working and the other is in the world of expressive arts. I often take online and weekend art workshops to keep myself updated and inspired. Some clients enjoy dance, puppetry, drama, music and other visual art. It is impossible to be good at all the arts, but it is important to keep exposing and challenging oneself to learn.
In order to keep learning and improve my therapy practice I have taken Somatic Experiencing which provides an excellent education for working with and understanding trauma, EMDR and Brain Spotting which have proven to be invaluable tools to use with clients for trauma resolution and reframing. I studied with and continue to study with Russell Delman. I completed his three year mentorship program “The Embodied Life” which focused on Zen meditation, Feldenkrais Method, and Focusing. I am a Focusing teacher and worked with Ann Cornell to learn Focusing. All these courses and ways of working have augmented and enriched my Art Therapy practice. I also returned to university a few years back to get a Masters. I think it is important to be a lifelong learner and read as much as possible.
As an Art Therapist, I find that I am constantly drawing on tools, information, techniques and ideas from a variety of different kinds of therapies and disciplines. Each client I see has a different set of needs and I find it helpful to have lots of ideas and ways of working at my disposal.
Having said this, I am first and foremost an Art Therapist. Most of what I learn, I adapt into the framework of Art Therapy. It is fun and creative to draw on many sources and beliefs to keep my practice alive and vital.