The mission of Lewis & Clark’s Art Therapy program is to prepare competent, creative, and reflective art therapists who are committed to equity-based clinical and community praxis. Students learn to apply relationally and socially attuned art therapy using art making to deepen awareness of self and others within societal and cultural contexts.

For applicants who are interested in pursuing the LPC, candidates should contact program director Mary Andrus to discuss the pathway offered in the program.

Three Overarching Goals of the Art Therapy Program

1. Continuously deepen self-understanding through personal growth experiences, reflective practice, and personal art-making to strengthen a personal connection to the creative process, assist in self-awareness, promote well-being, and guide professional practice.

2. Distinguish among the therapeutic benefits of a variety of art processes and media, strategies and interventions, and their applicability to the treatment process for individuals, groups, and families.

3. Recognize the impact of oppression, prejudice, discrimination, and privilege on access to mental health care, and develop responsive practices that include collaboration, empowerment, advocacy, and social justice action.

Employment and Graduation Rate

Almost all of our students get jobs soon after graduating. The employment rate within 9 months to one year post graduation is around 85% but all of 2016 cohort was employed within a year. Often practicum sites will hire the student if they have an opening.

Indeed, with any counseling degree, there are a certain number of post-graduate experience hours required for credentialing and licensing that cannot be obtained when one is a student.

Certification information: https://www.atcb.org/

Acceptance Rate

Our program typically has 20 open spots per cohort, but that number can vary depending on the applicant pool. Our admission process is selective as we look for students with well-developed skills in painting, drawing and sculpture. Portfolios that demonstrate introspection of self and a commitment to social justice are a plus. We look for a self-awareness and technical proficiency; articulate, well written essays, good academic records and experience in working with people (in mental health settings, treatment centers, hospitals etc.).

Art Therapy Prerequisites

Applicants do not have to have all prerequisites finished by the application deadline, but they must successfully complete the following prerequisite coursework prior to beginning the program. Credits must be earned at a college or university approved by a national or regional accrediting agency (minimum 100 level).

Studio Art Coursework: minimum of 18 semester credits (27 quarter credits). Must include one course in each of the following categories:

  • Painting - oil, acrylics, watercolor, mixed painting 
  • Drawing - must include figure drawing
  • Sculpture - must include clay or ceramics

Psychology Coursework: minimum of 12 semester credits (18 quarter credits) including:

  • Intro to Psychology or General Psychology
  • Abnormal Psychology - Psychopathology
  • Developmental Psychology - Child Development; Adult Development; Life Span Development

Portfolio - (9-12 pieces)
In addition to studio art classes, applicants must submit a portfolio with their application that shows technical proficiency in painting, drawing, and ceramics. The portfolio must include at least three examples of of each of the following three areas:

  • Figure drawing
  • Painting (include an example of representational imagery- figure, landscape, still life)
  • Ceramics (include an example of a fired hand built or wheel thrown piece)

In addition to expressing competency in painting, drawing, and sculpture/ceramics, your portfolio should also include images that address the following:

  • Self-reflection, depth, or introspection.
  • Conceptual awareness of relationship to society or social justice.

The remaining images can be of your choosing. All images should be presented in the best possible way, (In focus, no distracting backgrounds, good lighting)

Frequently Asked Questions

Can substitutions be made for the art/psychology courses?

Applicants will need at least 27 studio art credits, but only need one class in each of the painting, drawing and sculpture. The rest can be other media (printmaking, photography), provided their skill in painting, drawing and sculpture is satisfactory. Faculty will be taking into account an applicant’s art skill, experience, and other application strengths. Applicants might be required to do more work in one of the three main areas after their application is reviewed.

If art courses are completed at a nonacademic art school or if the applicant is an established artist, their application can be reviewed case by case and a decision will be made once their application has been completely reviewed. There are ATR guidelines that need to be considered for this exception as this may impact their future licensing agreements.

ATR guidelines on Art Prerequisites:

  • Eighteen (18) semester credits (or 27 quarter credits) in studio based art courses. Studio art coursework can be at the graduate or undergraduate level. Applicants must have successfully completed coursework in a variety of two- and three-dimensional art media (which may include digital art) and processes.
  • At least 12 credit hours must be completed prior to beginning the art therapy coursework. The remaining six (6) hours may be completed after beginning the first art therapy course that will count toward this credential, but must be completed within a year of beginning graduate coursework in art therapy. Studio based courses taken within an art therapy program do not satisfy the prerequisite studio art courses.
  • In lieu of academic based studio coursework, the ATCB will accept up to six (6) credits from a portfolio demonstrating competency, provided the applicant obtains a letter from a full-time or pro rata faculty member who has current ATR-BC or ATCS status and who teaches in a program that is within a regionally or nationally accredited institution of higher education, and who has reviewed the portfolio and is willing to attest that the applicant has demonstrated such competency. Applicants may also use non-credit art instruction. 3
  • Applicants wishing to fulfill some or all of the studio art requirements through training received outside of traditional academic settings may document clock hours of studio instruction time using the ratio of 15 contact hours as equivalent to one semester credit. This documentation must be in the form of an original letter (on official letterhead) signed by the studio art instructor. Original letter(s) must be provided with this Verification of Coursework Form.

Is there any volunteer service required?

At least 200 hours of human services experience is required. This can be work that is volunteer or paid. Applicants are not required to show that they did artwork in the course of their experience, but supervision by a master’s level mental health therapist is very valuable.

Explanation of human services: http://www.nationalhumanservices.org/what-is-human-services

What kinds of classes are required to get a degree in Art Therapy?

The program is 54 credits long and combines your knowledge of visual arts and art processes with in-depth studies of psychotherapy and counseling. Students use their creative work to understand theories of art therapy counseling, clients and therapeutic relationships.

What is the pay to be a therapist?

You could expect to earn the same salary as any mental health professional who has a master’s degree and similar credentials. According to a 2009 survey conducted by the American Medical Association salaries for those just beginning in the career are generally around $30,000 to $40,000 while those with experience may earn salaries over $70,000. Typically the salaries of experienced professionals range between $40 and 50,000. Keep in mind that salaries will vary considerably, depending on experience, location and type of practice.

Can I start a private practice?

You cannot typically start a private practice straight out of graduate school. You need to first complete a 1,000 hours of supervised post-master’s experience and apply for the professional credential of Registered Art Therapist (ATR). They require supervised post-degree clinical experience and successful completion of an examination. You will also want to have enough experience and connections to start a successful practice.

Do students benefit personally from studying Art Therapy?

The short answer is yes. Professional and personal development are difficult to separate and often go hand in hand. In the program you will develop professional skills to prepare for clinical work, learn from practicing therapists who are experienced teachers and gain extensive experience in therapeutic settings through the art therapy practicum and internship. While your artistic focus may differ from what you have done in the past, it will lead to the creation of authentic and aesthetically satisfying work.

Where do they get hired?

Art Therapists are prepared to work with people of all ages in a variety of settings, such as community mental health clinics, therapeutic schools, residential and day treatment programs, hospitals, correctional treatment settings and nursing homes.

Some organizations at which our graduates have received jobs:

  • The Salvation Army’s White Shield Center
  • Lutheran Community Services
  • Luke-Dorf, Inc.
  • Oregon State Hospital
  • Lifeline Connections
  • Cedar Hills Hospital
  • Center for Enriched Living
  • Domestic Violence Resource Center
  • Way Will Open
  • Lifeworks NW
  • Sequoia Mental Health
  • Washington County Juvenile Department
  • Assisted living facilities
  • Providence Hospital

Can this program be completed while working full-time?

We only offer the three year track in this program. Students have attended while holding a part-time job. However, midway through the program, students need to transition to full-time. It is challenging to balance hours at your practicum/internship site, school, and a part-time job. 

Still researching the field?

Shadowing or interviewing an art therapists can be helpful, also working, alongside one or at least in a mental health setting.

Info about the field:

Book recommendations:

  • The Handbook of Art Therapy by Case & Dalley
  • Approaches to Art Therapy by Judy Rubin
  • Art is a way of knowing- Pat Allen
  • Trust the process- Shawn McNiff Materials
  • Media in Art Therapy- Catherine Moon