Career Profile: Art & Music Therapy

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art therapy

Art and music are often perceived as hobbies rather than viable careers, but they can combine well with psychology and counselling to provide a unique career path. As a practitioner of art or music therapy, you can encourage people to get in touch with their innermost feelings and express themselves in non-verbal ways.

An overview of Art Therapy

While art therapy falls under the counselling realm, it’s a slightly different form of therapy that uses art as a way of communication and expression. During art therapy sessions, clients do not need to communicate verbally and can instead express themselves through different forms of art. This method of treatment has seen a lot of successes, especially in younger children who often find it difficult to communicate verbally with adults.

To become a qualified art therapist, you need to complete a relevant diploma or a master’s degree in the field. Most professionals who choose to pursue this specialty have usually already obtained an undergraduate degree or qualification in art. Alternatively, subjects like social work or psychology can qualify you to take a course in art therapy. Once you’ve completed the course, you’ll need to register with the Health Professions Council before you can start working in this field. Numerous places employ art therapists – from hospitals to schools, prisons and drug centres. A new entrant can expect to earn £23,000 to £31,000 annually while experienced art therapists could earn up to £43,000 a year.

An overview of Music Therapy

The premise of music therapy is very similar to that of art therapy. In this case, the therapist encourages the client to use music as a medium to get in touch with his or her feelings. Therapists have to be very creative to come up with different ways for the client to express themselves during each session. People of all ages can benefit from music therapy; clients often become more confident and aware of themselves after treatment. Those with learning disabilities or problems with their speech are often asked to attend music therapy sessions.

To become a qualified music therapist it’s necessary to complete a programme in this field, and register with the Health Professions Council. Most people who qualify as music therapists already have a degree in music and have often worked as music teachers.

Hospitals, schools and private practices usually employ music therapists. A person in this field could expect to start at an average salary of about £23,000 a year and move up to £43,000 annually after a lot of experience.

Is this the right career for you?

If you genuinely care about other people and are equally passionate about music or arts, a career in music or art therapy would be well suited to your personality. You’d have the satisfaction of combining both areas of interest, and encouraging individuals to get in touch with their inner feelings and make changes that would affect their lives positively.


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Gap Medics provides year-round hospital work experience for people aged 16 and over. Our shadowing placements offer a unique insight into the work of doctors, nurses, midwives and dentists – helping students to focus their career aspirations before embarking upon medical training.

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