What is an Art Therapist?

 Art Therapy requires specialized academic and professional training at post-graduate level. Art therapists are encouraged to register with the BCATA. Registered art therapists (BCATR) and professional members of the Association have met the requirements of training, have been accepted for professional practice as outlined by the guidelines of the BCATA and are bound by the professional Code of Ethics.


The educational process leading to a graduate diploma or degree begins with an undergraduate degree, preferably in psychology or other social service fields, although other areas of study are also considered. There are a number of post-graduate educational institutions in Canada which offer art therapy studies (see Links for contact information):

British Columbia School of Art Therapy in Victoria (diploma program)
Vancouver Art Therapy Institute (diploma program)
Adlerian School of Psychology in Vancouver (Master's program)
Kutenai School of Art Therapy in Nelson, B.C. (diploma program)
Concordia University in Montreal (Master's program)
Toronto Art Therapy Institute (diploma program)
University of Western Ontario (diploma program)

All are two year programs, all of which includes course work in art therapy theory and practice, human development and psychology, extensive art therapy practicum experience, personal art therapy process work, and a thesis. Successful completion of these requirements entitles the graduate to practice as a professional art therapist, either in private practice or as an employee in an agency or institution.

The B.C. School of Art Therapy in Victoria, the Justice Institute of B.C. in New Westminster, Langara College and Douglas College all offer various workshops in topics related to the Expressive Arts, including sandtray, play and art therapy. The BCATA offers a number of one-afternoon professional development workshops as well.


There are four main art therapy professional associations in Canada: the Canadian Art Therapy Association, the Quebec Art Therapy Association, the Ontario Art Therapy Association, and the British Columbia Art Therapy Association. All offer professional, registered, associate and student memberships (see Links for contact information).