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Creative Arts Therapist

Creative arts therapists use artistic media to help clients maintain and improve their physical and mental health. This therapy helps people recognize and develop their inner resources.

  • Avg. Salary $49,234.00
  • Avg. Wage $29.38
  • Minimum Education 6 years post-secondary
  • Outlook N/A
  • Employed 2,300
  • In Demand Medium
Also Known As

Art Therapist, Dance Therapist, Drama Therapist, Expressive Arts Therapist, Music Therapist, Rehabilitation Services Practitioner, Therapist

NOC Codes

In Canada, the federal government groups and organizes occupations based on a National Occupational Classification (NOC) system. This alis occupation may not reflect the entire NOC group it is part of. Data for the NOC group can apply across multiple occupations.

The NOC system is updated every 5 years to reflect changes in the labour market. Government forms and labour market data may group and refer to an occupation differently, depending on the system used. Here is how this occupation has been classified over time:

  • 2006 NOC: Other Professional Occupations in Therapy and Assessment (3144) 
  • 2006 NOC-S: Other Professional Occupations in Therapy and Assessment (D044) 
  • 2011 NOC: Other professional occupations in therapy and assessment (3144) 
Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

20%
20%
Average Wage
Starting
Overall
Top
  • Certification Not Regulated
  • Strength Required Strength requirements vary
Interest Codes
The Creative Arts Therapist is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Other Professional Occupations in Therapy and Assessment
SOCIAL

Interest in mentoring patients by providing treatment and advising them on how to deal with their mental and physical abilities; and in consulting with other health care professionals to evaluate treatment plans

INNOVATIVE

Interest in co-ordinating, initiating, designing and implementing specialized therapy programs for the general patient population and in the community; may conduct research in respective field of specialization

METHODICAL

Interest in operating - manipulating equipment and following procedures to implement treatment plans by carrying out specialized therapy sessions employing techniques such as art, athletic, dance, music or recreational therapy or remedial gymnastics; and in observing and analyzing patients during treatment sessions

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. 
It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn More

Duties
Updated Dec 31, 2018

Creative arts therapists use creative approaches to:

  • Treat mental and physical illnesses
  • Support people who have disabilities
  • Promote wellness, creativity, and personal growth

Creative arts therapists help people who have trouble expressing themselves due to physical, emotional, or other barriers. For example, many children can convey messages more clearly by creating art than by speaking.

Creative arts therapists provide a supportive setting. They often use non-verbal processes to improve clients’ awareness. They may use visual art, dance, drama, or music. Or they may use a combination of arts.

  • Art therapists use visual art to assess and treat clients. They also use it in research. They provide therapy to individuals and groups of all ages. They may also be consultants for other mental health professionals.
  • Dance therapists focus on non-verbal behaviour. They encourage clients to use creative, expressive movement to address emotional issues.
  • Drama therapists use creative play, psychodrama, role play, improvisation, and theatre to help clients with emotional growth.
  • Music therapists use active and receptive music making to help clients process emotions, achieve physical goals, and develop coping strategies. Active music includes singing, instrument playing, improvisation, and song writing. Receptive music includes listening, guided imagery, and relaxation.

For each client or group of clients, therapists:

  • Assess needs and strengths
  • Identify treatment goals
  • Choose an approach and develop a treatment program
  • Use programs or strategies that involve music, art, drama, dance, or a combination
  • Continually assess whether the program is working
  • Adjust programs as needed, like transposing pieces of music to suit the vocal range of the client

Whether they are members of teams or work in private practice, creative arts therapists work closely with other professionals. These include psychiatrists, psychologists, teachers, and counsellors.

Working Conditions
Updated Dec 31, 2018

Creative arts therapists often work standard office hours. They work in hospitals, schools, nursing homes, community agencies, and prisons. They may work in private practices. They may work some evenings or weekends.

All therapies require clients to feel safe. Depending on the setting and client, art therapists may remove toxic art supplies or sharp tools such as scissors.

Music therapists may be required to lift and carry instruments and other equipment.

  • Strength Required Strength requirements vary
Skills & Abilities
Updated Dec 31, 2018

Creative arts therapists need:

  • Creativity and the ability to improvise
  • Enthusiasm
  • A non-judgmental attitude
  • Communication and interpersonal skills
  • Flexibility
  • A tolerance for ambiguity
  • Initiative

They should enjoy:

  • Working with people
  • Designing and running innovative therapy programs while using artistic techniques
Educational Requirements
Updated Dec 31, 2018

Creative arts therapists typically need a master’s degree in art therapy or similar field. An equivalent combination of education and experience may also be considered.

Admission to master’s degree programs generally requires a 4-year degree in psychology or a related discipline and a strong background in art, dance, music, or drama.

Music therapists must have competency in their primary instrument as well as basic piano, guitar, and vocal skills.


Required Education

The following schools offer programs and courses that meet this occupation’s educational requirements. Other eligible programs and courses may be available.


Related Education

The following schools offer programs or courses that are related to this occupation but are not required to enter the field.

Gonzaga University

For a broad list of programs and courses that may be related to this occupation try searching using keywords.

 

Outside of Alberta, art therapy programs are offered by the:

Concordia University in Montreal offers a master’s program for drama therapy that includes dance and movement therapy.

Programs in music therapy are offered by:

For more information on training programs for music therapy, visit the Canadian Association of Music Therapists website.

Certification Requirements
Updated Dec 31, 2018

Music therapy is regulated in some provinces and is currently in the process of getting regulated in Alberta.

However, voluntary certification may be available.

Certification by the American Dance Therapy Association (ADTA) requires:

  • A master’s degree with specified dance and movement therapy courses
  • At least 5 years of concentrated study in dance
  • 200 hours of fieldwork
  • Completion of a 700-hour internship

Certification by the North American Drama Therapy Association (NADTA)requires:

  • A master’s degree in drama therapy from a NADTA-approved program (or a master’s degree in a related field and completion of specified education requirements)
  • 500 hours of drama or theatre experience
  • 500 hours of additional training or experience
  • Completion of a 300-hour internship

Certification by the Canadian Association of Music Therapists (CAMT) requires music therapists to:

  • Be well-rounded musicians
  • Have a bachelor’s degree in music therapy from a CAMT-recognized school or equivalent
  • Have successfully completed a 1,000-hour internship under the supervision of qualified music therapists
  • Pass the Certification Board of Music Therapists (CBMT) exam administered in the USA
Employment & Advancement
Updated Dec 31, 2018

Creative arts therapists may work in:

  • Rehabilitation centres
  • Hospitals
  • Schools
  • Prisons and other correctional facilities
  • Private practice
  • Community mental health centres
  • Seniors’ centres and nursing homes
  • Daycare centres
  • Counselling centres and clinics

Many music therapists work as private contractors.

Creative arts therapists are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 3144: Other Professional Occupations in Therapy and Assessment. In Alberta, 80% of people employed in this classification work in the Health Care and Social Assistance [pdf] industry.

The employment outlook [pdf] in this occupation is influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • Trends and events that affect overall employment, especially in the Health Care and Social Assistance industry
  • Location in Alberta
  • Employment turnover (when people leave existing positions)
  • Occupational growth (when new positions are created)
  • Size of the occupation

Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

Wage & Salary
Updated Dec 31, 2018

Incomes for creative arts therapists generally are comparable to other mental health professionals with similar qualifications, like psychologists and social workers.

Many music therapists work as private contractors and typically include factors such as travel time, practitioner experience and documentation time in their fee.

For information about current collective agreements in the public and not-for-profit sectors, see the Health Sciences Association of Alberta (HSAA) website.

Other professional occupations in therapy and assessment

Survey Methodology

Survey Analysis

Overall Wage Details
Average Wage
Average Salary
Hours Per Week

Hourly Wage
For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Starting
Overall
Top
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $19.84 $38.05 $24.81 $20.67
Overall $20.50 $44.45 $29.38 $25.64
Top $21.50 $53.65 $39.28 $41.03

Swipe left and right to view all data. Scroll left and right to view all data.

* All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production) and other forms of compensation.

B: Good Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

Good Reliability, represents a CV of between 6.01% and 15.00% and/or fewer than 30 survey observations and/or if survey observations represent less than 50% of all estimated employment for the occupation.


Industry Information
Public Administration
Educational Services
ALL INDUSTRIES
Health Care & Social Assistance

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

52%
52%

Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties

20%
20%

Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months

5%
5%

Vacancy Rate

2%
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Education and Library Studies
  • Fine Arts and Performing Arts
  • Social Sciences, Law and Religious Studies
  • Social, Community and Protective Services
Other Sources of Information
Updated Dec 31, 2018

American Art Therapy Association (AATA) website: arttherapy.org

American Dance Therapy Association (ADTA) website: adta.org

Association des Art-Therapeutes du Quebec (AATQ) website: www.aatq.org

British Columbia Art Therapy Association (BCATA) website: bcarttherapy.com

Canadian Art Therapy Association (CATA) website: www.canadianarttherapy.org

Canadian Association of Music Therapists (CAMT) website: www.musictherapy.ca

Health Sciences Association of Alberta (HSAA) website: www.hsaa.ca

Music Therapy Association for Alberta (MTAA) website: www.mtaa.ca

North American Drama Therapy Association (NADTA) website: www.nadt.org

Ontario Art Therapy Association (OATA) website: www.oata.ca

For more information on career planning, education and jobs call the Alberta Supports Contact Centre toll-free at 1-877-644-9992 or 780-644-9992 in Edmonton, or visit an Alberta Supports Centre near you.

Updated Dec 31, 2018. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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