Art Therapy

What is Art Therapy?

Art Therapy combines visual art and psychotherapy in a creative process using the created image as a foundation for self-exploration and under-standing. Thoughts and feelings often reach expression in images rather than in words. Through the use of art therapy, feelings and inner conflicts can be projected into visual form. In the creative act, conflict is re-experienced, resolved and integrated.

Art therapy can be used with individuals, groups, or families as either a primary or adjunctive therapeutic mode in clinical, educational and rehabilitative settings. People of all ages can benefit from art therapy and previous art experience is unnecessary as the focus is on personal expression.

The BCATA is committed to upholding high standards of professionalism and ethical integrity in the delivery of art therapy services to the public. We encourage members of the public who are seeking a professional art therapist to choose one who is a Professional Member or Registered Professional Member with BCATA or another professional art therapy association that operates on clear criteria and standards for professional training and registration, and has an established Code of Ethical Conduct and an Professional Ethics Committee that upholds those standards for its members. Members of the public are also encouraged to select an Art Therapist who can verify current professional liability insurance.

Art Therapy is not only for people experiencing emotional difficulty — it can heighten creativity and enrich life.

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:

  • Vancouver Art Therapy Institute (diploma program)
  • Adler University Vancouver Campus (Master’s program)
  • Kutenai Art Therapy Institute in Nelson, B.C. (diploma program)
  • Canadian International Institute of Art Therapy in Victoria, BC (diploma program)
  • Concordia University in Montreal (Master’s program)
  • Toronto Art Therapy Institute (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 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.

Vist our resources page to see a complete list of schools and associations.

BC Art Therapy Association

Suite 123
101-1001 West Broadway
Vancouver, BC Canada V6H 4E4

We would be pleased to answer any questions you may have about Art Therapy or our Association.

PHONE: 1-604-878-6393



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