Work experience


One of the basic entry requirements for MA Art Psychotherapy applicants is that they have accrued a minimum of one year's full-time, or the equivalent in part-time hours, of 1.500 hours' relevant work experience prior to application. One of your references should come from a manager at your place of pre-application relevant work.

This means a minimum of 1,500 hours that have been gained by the date of application and does not include hours gained between the time of application and the actual date when the course begins. In practice, the majority of applicants have experience beyond this minimum requirement. 

Such work may be paid or voluntary and need not necessarily be in the field of art therapy. It may be gained in the UK or abroad. The main requirement is that you have worked in direct contact and in some form of professional capacity with the sort of clients that you will eventually encounter if accepted for training. Work experience must be accrued outside the confines of your own domestic circumstances, so tasks such as caring for children, friends or relatives, although obviously important as life experience, do not qualify for the purposes of entry requirements.

You should bear in mind that the purpose of relevant work experience is to give you some insight into the problems involved in working with people who are undergoing some form of emotional or psychological crisis or stress. With this in mind, direct work with such clients should be the main purpose of the applicant’s employment and not merely incidental to employment in another capacity.

Work experience should include some contact, teamwork and liaison with other professionals. It should be face-to-face work with clients, as this correlates to what will be expected in the training placement; for this reason, telephone counselling experience cannot be counted towards the hours required. It should be accrued as an employee or volunteer and not as a student placement on other forms of training. Relevant areas of work could be child, adolescent, adult and elderly mental health, special needs education or certain social services facilities, hospice or prison work. Teaching experience should include a substantial amount of specific special needs work and can include teaching or classroom assistant experience.

We can't provide prospective applicants with information about where you should seek this experience. It is probably best to approach establishments such as day centres, special schools and psychiatric hospitals in your immediate locality. A register of practising art therapists can be obtained from:

The British Association of Art Therapists 
tel: 0207 686 4216

This will enable you to contact art therapists in your area with a view to exploring work experience possibilities.

It is also possible for those interested in art therapy to join this organisation as associate members; this will entitle you to receive copies of newsletters and a journal that will give you information about current practice in the profession.