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MA in Art Psychotherapy

  • Length
    2 years full-time or 3 years part-time
  • Department
    Social, Therapeutic and Community Studies

Course overview

This programme will provide you with a broad understanding of the theories and practices of art psychotherapy necessary for safe and effective clinical work.

The Masters enables you to practice as an art therapist in the NHS, Social Services, and educational establishments, and to become a practitioner registered with the British Association of Art Therapists and eligible to apply for registration with the Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC).

Your learning is underpinned by the principles and practices of psychodynamic psychotherapy practised within the context of mental health care, and informed by contemporary art practice.

Via theoretical studies, clinical work and experiential learning you will integrate cognitive understanding and practical experience with a developing awareness of self and other. The nature of the therapeutic relationship between client, their art work, and the art therapist is explored, and you have the opportunity to put your learning into practice through two 60-day placements which are supervised and supported in-depth.

You are encouraged to develop your own art practice and to situate your work in relationship to your development as a therapist, to contemporary art practice and to psychoanalytic theories. You must be in personal therapy throughout the programme.

Contact the department

If you have specific questions about the degree, contact Dr Sally Skaife

Modules & structure

Modes of study

The MA in Art Psychotherapy is a course that leads to successful applicants becoming eligible to apply for registration as an Arts Therapist with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC), the body which regulates and monitors standards of practice in the public sector. The programme can be studied in two modes - full-time for 2 years or part-time for 3 years. A clear indication of the mode chosen should be stated on application forms.

Full-time study

Year 1: all day Monday and Tuesday in college. Clinical placement days are usually Thursday and Friday. One day should be set aside for on-going studio practice where possible

Years 2: all day Tuesday in college plus two days clinical placement to be arranged on other days – usually two consecutive days and these are negotiated with your placement. There are also three two day blocks of time for experiential groups (Mondays and Tuesdays). One day should be set aside for on-going studio practice where possible.

Part-time study

Year 1: all day Monday and Tuesday in college. One day should be set aside for on-going studio practice where possible.

Year 2: all day Tuesday in college plus two days clinical placement to be arranged on other days – usually two consecutive days. There are also three two day blocks of time for experiential groups. One day should be set aside for on-going studio practice where possible.

Year 3: Half a day in college on Tuesdays with some full-time Tuesdays (the yearly timetable will have details of which Tuesdays are half day or full day), plus, two days clinical placement to be arranged on other days – usually two consecutive days. One day should be set aside for on-going studio practice where possible.

Most Mondays will run from 9.00am to 4.00pm; Tuesdays in year one vary but can be from 9.00am to 7.00pm. Times at placement are arranged with the particular organisation. The programme follows standard university terms; Term 1 – late September to early December. Term 2 – early January to late March. Term 3 – late April to early July.

The part-time programme allows trainees to continue with some paid work. However, the environment where such paid work is carried out cannot be used as a training placement, because of the inherent differences in role, expectations and responsibilities. Placements are arranged by art psychotherapy staff and placement allocation for both part-time students is made after discussion with staff.

Enquiries have sometimes been made about module-based study and correspondence study or distance learning. Because a large proportion of the course is based upon experiential learning in groups, these options are not possible. However, for students living outside London, it may be possible to arrange the clinical placement part of the course in other areas, if local supervision is available.

Personal therapy

It's a mandatory aspect of the course that all students must be in personal therapy for the duration of their training. It is usual for therapists to expect attendance throughout the calendar year except for usual holiday breaks; this may entail attendance outside term time. 

Therapy may be on a group or individual basis and can be art therapy or verbal psychotherapy. Attendance must be at least once weekly. It must be stressed that it is not acceptable for a student to be in therapy with a trainee; all personal therapists should be qualified and registered with a relevant professional organisation. Students’ therapists will also be expected to register their professional details with the college. Contact is made with students' therapists at various points in the training to ensure that consistent attendance is being maintained.

Modules

Module title Credits
  Theory and Practice of Art Psychotherapy 1 45 credits
  Experiential Learning 1 (Art Psychotherapy) 30 credits
  Clinical Placement 1 (Art Psychotherapy) 45 credits
  Theory and Practice of Art Psychotherapy 2 60 credits
  Experiential Learning 2 (Art Psychotherapy) 15 credits
  Clinical Placement 2 (Art Psychotherapy) 45 credits

Assessment

Coursework, placement portfolios, mid-course case study, final clinical report.

Download the programme specification for this degree to find out more about what you'll learn and how you'll be taught and assessed.

Please note that due to staff research commitments not all of these modules may be available every year.

Department

The Department of Social, Therapeutic and Community Studies
has human relationships at its heart

Social, Therapeutic and Community Studies

You’ll benefit from the wealth of experience of our staff and their commitment to ensuring that you’ll leave us as a reflective, research-minded professional.

We offer programmes in Community Studies, Social Work, and Therapeutic Studies.

Our degrees are informed by our commitment to social justice and applied practices – whether you want to:

  • understand and challenge the ways that vulnerable individuals and groups are disadvantaged and marginalised
  • become a social worker, community and youth worker, therapist or counsellor
  • change people’s lives through dance, drama and music

You’ll benefit from the wealth of experience of our staff and their commitment to ensuring that you’ll leave us as a reflective, research-minded professional.

Find out more about the Department of Social, Therapeutic and Community Studies.

Skills & careers

Skills

The MA will develop skills including:

  • the ability to work with a range of client populations
  • an understanding of psychodynamic concepts
  • development of your own art practice

Careers

Completion of the programme provides eligibility for the Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC) registration as an art psychotherapist.

Our graduates are invariably seen as offering a valuable and unique service to their clients and to the multidisciplinary teams in which they work – graduates have gone on to practice as art psychotherapists in the NHS, social services and in the education sector.

We regularly receive positive feedback from organisations that employ art therapists and/or accept trainees on placement.

Find out more about employability at Goldsmiths

Student profiles

Poppy

"My hopes in the long term are to contribute to the field of art psychotherapy within cancer and terminal illness through practice and eventually research."

"I feel honour and pride to not only be at Goldsmiths, but also to now be affiliated with such a unique and impactful charity set up in the memory of artist, illustrator wife and mother Corinne Burton. 

Becoming a qualified art psychotherapist has been my focus and dream since my early teenage years. Art has an inherent ability to transcend cultural, linguistic and religious boundaries like no other. I believe it is this concept that utterly embodies both my reason and practice, supporting my genuine belief in the power of art as a reflective, healing and inspirational process.  

The Corrine Burton Trust has been instrumental in the development of art psychotherapy within cancer and palliative care – an area that I identified an interest in early on. Unfortunately, many families have a connection with cancer. My formative years were dominated by a terminally ill grandmother with whom I spent much time at the Royal Marsden Hospital. This early experience and, sadly, frequent hospital visiting since, has influenced my ability to be comfortable in a hospital environment and around people who are both very ill and dying. Recent volunteer work at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford reinforced a belief in my capacity to accept both the wonderful capabilities of art in these challenging situations whilst acknowledging its limitations within a difficult reality of the patients and families suffering and grief.  

My hopes in the long term are to contribute to the field of art psychotherapy within cancer and terminal illness through practice and eventually research. The placement and two years' work that the trust supports will be invaluable in helping me to achieve this. I recently attended a research symposium held by BAAT that emphasised how art psychotherapy is still an emerging area with vast scope for further research and understanding. I strongly believe that with the support of the Corrine Burton Memorial Trust I could one day contribute to their pioneering and unique work in this field."

Cathy

“The fact that I had an art psychotherapy and social work background helped me as a constituency MP.”

Cathy Jamieson may be one of the only MPs that started out her professional life as a social worker. After studying art psychotherapy at Goldsmiths, she went on to work as an art therapist, social worker and community worker.

Cathy explains: “My time at Goldsmiths changed the way I thought about art in a social context. I developed my thinking on how I could use my learning in a way that would be useful to wider society. Very importantly the course linked to practical placements which quite literally shaped my future career. Working with a range of academics, practitioners and other students from different backgrounds was really valuable.”

Over the next two decades she dedicated her time to working with disadvantaged groups, focusing on supporting young people, particularly young offenders and those in care. She moved into the world of politics in 1999 when she was elected to the Scottish Parliament and later held the role of Minister for Justice. During this time, she took a leading role on anti-social behaviour and commissioned a major review of Scotland’s civil justice system.

Cathy then became a Westminster MP in 2010. As well as representing her constituency she is also currently serving as the Shadow Economic Secretary to the Treasury. And Cathy is still drawing on her Goldsmiths training.

“I have made constant use of what I learned at Goldsmiths – particularly how to think creatively and problem solve. The combination of having an art background, which makes you think outside the box, and the social work background of analysing situations and then deciding how to act, is quite unusual but it’s been very good for me,” she added.

Entry requirements

You should have at least one year's full-time, or the equivalent in part-time hours, 1,500 hours' relevant work experience. Find out more about these work experience requirements

You should also have an undergraduate degree of at least second class standard in visual arts/design, or in a related/relevant area, or a professional qualification.

Art graduates may come from any area of the visual arts, including applied crafts. We accept graduates who may have studied a combined subject degree course such as art/psychology or art/sociology as long as they are not entirely theoretically based, but contain a substantial amount of actual studio practice. 

Examples of other approved subjects could be psychology, social science, and social anthropology - generally, subjects that are concerned with human behaviour, development and relationships. Such non-art graduates must demonstrate a long-standing commitment to and ability to practice in some form of visual art. With this in mind, if you're a non-art graduate you must send photographs or slides of a representative selection of personal artwork with your application.

We recognise that there may be some very able candidates who do not conform to traditional educational patterns, so a small number of 'special-entry' places are allocated each year to non-graduates. The academic demands of the course are such that a reasonable level of further education beyond secondary level is required. Each special-entry application is assessed on individual merit, so it is essential to give full details of all educational achievements on application forms. Reasons for any interruptions or early terminations to courses of studies must be clearly outlined. If a non-graduate applicant has not undertaken any formal art education, the above-stated commitment to practice in the visual arts is expected and, again, examples of artwork must be sent with applications.

Applicants are asked to disclose any criminal record, disciplinary record, significant periods of time off work and significant health problems in writing after interview.

If we wish to make an applicant an offer of a place on the course, an anonymised version of the applicant’s written disclosure will be reviewed by a panel which considers the applicant’s suitability for therapeutic studies training. Applicants will be asked to complete an application form for an enhanced disclosure certificate from the Disclosure and Barring Service. There is a fee to apply for a disclosure certificate. Further information about payment is sent with the offer of a place. If an applicant has lived overseas they may also be asked to obtain the equivalent of the UK enhanced disclosure certificate from the relevant overseas authority. Once the copy of the enhanced disclosure certificate is received by the college, applicants may also be asked for further information concerning any convictions, cautions or other relevant information that it reveals, as well as references from the probation service or other organisations. This process is additional to normal ‘fitness to train’ processes.

Find out more about these entry requirements.

Personal therapy
Some experience of personal therapy can be useful prior to application but it is not a pre-course requirement. However, once you've enrolled you will be required to undertake personal therapy for the duration of your training.

Successful applicants are advised to commence therapy as soon as they receive the offer of a place on the course. In practice, many applicants have some experience of personal therapy before they apply and, whilst not mandatory, this is clearly advantageous.

An information leaflet regarding entering personal therapy may be obtained from the department's secretary (please send a stamped addressed envelope). Applicants who are already in therapy but are unsure as to whether or not their situation meets course requirements should write in with full details for advice.

Fitness to train
You'll need to meet fitness to train criteria to be considered for this programme.

Equivalent qualifications
We accept a wide range of international qualifications. Find out more about the qualifications we accept from around the world.

English language requirements
If English isn’t your first language, you’ll need to meet our English language requirements to study with us.

For this programme we require:

IELTS 7.0 (including 7.0 in the written test)

If you need assistance with your English language, we offer a range of courses that can help prepare you for postgraduate-level study.

How to apply

You apply directly to Goldsmiths using our online application system. 

Before submitting your application you’ll need to have:

  • Details of your education history, including the dates of all exams/assessments
  • The email address of both a professional referee (a manager at your place of relevant work pre-application, from whom we will request a reference) and an academic referee (an electronic copy of your academic reference is also acceptable)
  • personal statement – this can either be uploaded as a Word Document or PDF, or completed online
  • If available, an electronic copy of your educational transcript (this is particularly important if you have studied outside of the UK, but isn’t mandatory)
  • A portfolio of art work showing evidence of a longstanding commitment to your own art practice (this should be uploaded electronically as part of your application)
  • Experience of work in health, social services or education (equivalent to at least 1,500 hours) – your application will only be considered if it includes full details of all work experience, including exact hours worked
  • Experience of personal therapy (ideally)

You'll be able to save your progress at any point and return to your application by logging in using your username/email and password.

The programme can be studied in two modes - full-time for 2 years or part-time for 3 years. A clear indication of the mode chosen should be stated on application forms.

Personal statement

Your personal statement should include:

  • your reasons for wanting to study the degree
  • what you feel you can offer to the profession of art therapy
  • a brief summary of the rationale of your past and current art practice
  • a short account of your experiences in relevant work experience 
  • your thoughts about planning your course of study, with details of things such as time management, how you will secure any necessary study leave, and how you plan to fund your studies/support yourself financially

Art portfolio

No specific guidelines are offered as to the content of this portfolio, it is up to you to present yourself as a practising artist in your own way, perhaps with a selection that includes both current and past work. If you have been engaged in art activities as part of your work experience you can also present examples of this. 

If you're invited to interview you will be asked to discuss your portfolio during a 10-minute presentation. Bearing this time limit in mind, it's best to select a small representative selection of your work.

When to apply

We accept applications from October for students wanting to start the following September. 

We encourage you to complete your application as early as possible, even if you haven't finished your current programme of study. It's very common to be offered a place that is conditional on you achieving a particular qualification. 

Late applications will only be considered if there are spaces available.

If you're applying for funding, you may be subject to an earlier application deadline. 

Selection process

After we've reviewed your application, we may invite you to attend a two-hour group interview.

The first stage of the interview involves a group discussion followed by a 10-minute presentation of your portfolio of personal art work. You may decide to bring actual art objects, or to use a computer-based presentation – please plan for this carefully in advance, and bring your own laptop if necessary. If any equipment such as slide projectors will be needed, please inform us well in advance. Large or three-dimensional work may be presented in photographic print form.

A short break follows during which you will write a brief reflective text on your experience of the interview. Each candidate will then be given a short individual interview by one of the interviewing staff.

Interviews are hold from December onwards and are held until all places are filled – usually no later than the end of May. Interviews are offered as applications are received, and places are allocated on a first come, first served basis. 

If you're not invited for interview, it will usually because you haven't met our entry requirements, and some advice may be given about how these can be achieved so that you can re-apply in future

Find out more about applying.

Fees & funding

Find out more about funding opportunities for home/EU applicants, or funding for international applicants. If you're applying for funding, you may be subject to an application deadline.

Applicants for the full-time programme can apply for the Corinne Burton Memorial Studentship.

Find out more about tuition fees.

A requirement of the programme is that you must be in personal therapy for the duration of your training, and this is an additional item that must be budgeted for. Currently, individual therapy can cost from £30 to £50 per session, and group therapy from £20 to £30 per session. Some organisations and individual therapists may be prepared to offer a reduced rate to students.

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