Home > Alternative Health > Careers in Art or Music Therapy

Careers in Art or Music Therapy

By: Ian Murnaghan BSc (hons), MSc - Updated: 27 Sep 2014 | comments*Discuss
Career Therapist Music Therapy Music

While the words 'art' and 'music' leave many of us thinking about our favourite songs and pictures on our walls, they also combine with the psychology and counselling fields to provide unique and very special careers.

Art therapists are educated and skilled in the psychology of non-verbal forms of communicating such as those through images. They use image making as a type of symbolism to encourage healthy development in children and to facilitate better family structure and communication.

Music therapists use sounds and different kinds of music to encourage mental and psychological health as well as to aid people in reducing their stress and increasing their confidence and communication. While you might think that an art or music therapist is teaching music or art, this is far from the case. Instead, as a music or art therapist you would provide a warm environment where clients can use drawings or other forms of art – or perhaps instruments and singing – to communicate their feelings.

Understanding a Career in Art Therapy

While you might have a bit of an idea now about what an art therapist does in a generalised sense, you may still be wondering just where they work and what type of clients will use art therapy for their well being.

Art therapy is still within the counselling and helping realms, where the art therapist focuses on the use of creativity rather than the more traditional use of words and conversation to share feelings and provide support to a client. Many art therapists work for the National Health Service (NHS) while some will work in the private sector. Art therapists can be particularly helpful with younger children, who may struggle with the maturity of their speech at this stage and can thus benefit from communicating in an easier, more natural way. Teenagers and adults as well as the elderly can also benefit from art therapy; you might choose to specialise with one of these age groups.

Places where art therapists are employed include schools, drug and alcohol centres, social services, palliative care and the prison service. To train as an art therapist, you would typically complete a graduate level diploma or a Masters, which must be professionally recognised. You would also register with the Health Professions Council (HPC) in order to qualify for practice in the United Kingdom (UK).

Most people who complete their graduate programs in art therapy will have already finished an undergraduate degree in art and design – some may even be working as art teachers. If your undergraduate studies were in psychology or social work, you may also be qualified to enter an art therapy graduate program. Those new to the field will usually make a salary of £23,000 to £31,000 per year although this can reach £37,000 once you have worked for a few years. More experienced senior art therapists will make £43,000 or more each year.

Working as a Music Therapist

Music therapists gently encourage clients to use music as a means to express themselves to effectively find new ways of communicating with people. A music therapist will also help people to gain a better understanding of their own personality and relationships with those around them. Through the use of music, a client can become more confident, strengthen their relationships and obtain a better, deeper sense of their own feelings. In this way, your work as a music therapist can be highly rewarding in that it helps people to ultimately have an improved sense of self and more successful communication with others.

In a typical day, your client would use instruments or other forms of music such as singing to communicate freely and creatively – together you would facilitate confident and safe communication in a very uninhibited and creative format. Your clients might be children or they could be adults with psychological and emotional challenges. Those with speech problems or learning disabilities are also helped through music therapy.

As with an arts therapist, you would need to complete an accredited graduate program in music therapy and you must also register with the HPC. Most people first complete an undergraduate degree in music or they may already be working as music teachers. Coursework would focus on childhood development, psychology and the theoretical aspects of music therapy. Music therapists work in a range of community locations such as hospitals and schools. Some may also work in private practices. Your starting salary would be approximately £23,000 per year but can rise to £42,000 a year once you have at least a few years of experience.

Choosing the Best Career for you

If you have a deep caring for other people and want to work in a role that sits on the brink of therapy and the arts, then a career in music or art therapy would be well suited to your personality and character. You will have the opportunity to use non-verbal forms of communication to encourage clients to get in touch with their feelings and make positive changes in their lives.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Hi all..I have a question. What must I study if I want to be a social worker specialising in music therapy? Must I do BSW first and then do a music degree or can I combine the two at the same time ? Your help will be highly appreciated.
Bella-Fortuna - 27-Sep-14 @ 9:05 AM
Hi I have just set up a petition on an official Government site to gain enough signatures in support of Art Psychotherapy, in the hope that it can be made available across all NHS hospitals for out patients as well as acute services. If you support my campaign please click on the link below to sign my petition. When giving your details business addresses will not be accepted. Thank you. http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/66077 Kind Regards Colette Whelan
Colette - 11-Jun-14 @ 11:59 AM
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
Enter word:
Latest Comments
  • Kar
    Re: A Camouflage Cosmetician Career
    Hi. I have discos lupus for 21 years now. And camouflage make Up has helped me return my confidence. Self esteem. And would…
    10 February 2018
  • Claudia
    Re: A Career as a Surgical Technologist
    I have graduated my nursing study in 2003 in General Medicine Nurse in Health and Pedagogical Assistance to “ Sfantu…
    16 January 2018
  • AHealthCareer
    Re: How to Become a Midwife
    kimbo81 - Your Question:I'm 36 and currently work as a TA but I would love to re train and become a Midwife, however I do not have a clue…
    11 January 2018
  • kimbo81
    Re: How to Become a Midwife
    I'm 36 and currently work as a TA but I would love to re train and become a Midwife, however I do not have a clue how to go about it. Can…
    10 January 2018
  • Jod
    Re: Unions for Health Workers
    I am a supervisor at a care home and we care staff are looking into joining a union but need the right one who would help and support…
    5 January 2018
  • Berry
    Re: Paediatrician and Paediatric Careers
    Am a midwifery student and want to be a specialist pediatrician.....do I have to start after completing my diploma?
    4 January 2018
  • Tina
    Re: A Camouflage Cosmetician Career
    Hello, can you please send me info on how to get certified. I'm starting make up artistry for beauty program tomorrow to learn…
    24 September 2017
  • AHealthCareer
    Re: How to Become a Midwife
    Aulia - Your Question:Hai iam aulia from Indonesia, now I work in saudi arabia. Iam midwife and have registered for midwife. I finish my…
    19 September 2017
  • Aulia
    Re: How to Become a Midwife
    Hai iam aulia from Indonesia, now i work in saudi arabia. Iam midwife and have registered for midwife. I finish my school 3 years because…
    18 September 2017
  • AHealthCareer
    Re: How to Become a Midwife
    LouLou - Your Question:After I have done my GCSEs, what should I do? I want to be a midwife.Our Respon
    29 August 2017
Further Reading...
Our Most Popular...
Add to my Yahoo!
Add to Google
Stumble this
Add to Twitter
Add To Facebook
RSS feed
You should seek independent professional advice before acting upon any information on the AHealthCareer website. Please read our Disclaimer.