Art Therapy Training in South Africa

Art Therapy Training South Africa

Art Therapy is a 2 years Masters or Post Graduate qualification which is currently only available internationally. There is unfortunately no legitimate Art Therapy training in South Africa yet.

This of course has been very frustrating for many people as most people are unable to go overseas to study for various financial and practical reasons. There is unfortunately no quick fix in becoming an Art Therapist, just as one would not call oneself a psychologist or practice as such without the relevant training and registration required.

A legitimate Art Therapy training follows a similar training protocol as in becoming a psychologist, in that one needs an academic background consisting of an Undergraduate degree followed by an Honours in Psychology. These are some of the pre-requisites just to be eligible to apply to study Art Therapy at a University overseas.

Included in the training procedure are internships, clocking up of thousands of clinical hours (with various allocated client groups) under formal supervision and personal therapy in order to be actively engaged and working through one’s own personal journey as a client. Finally one needs to undergo registration exams with the HPCSA in order to obtain a registration number to be able to practice Art Therapy in South Africa. For more info on pre-requisites to studying overseas, please click here.

Therefore a formal Art Therapy training is professionally, legally and ethically required both to ensure the quality control of this relatively new and specialised profession of Art Therapy and to ensure future potential clients that they are in the hands of a professionally trained, experienced and registered Art Therapist.

After completion of my 2 year Masters training in London in 2000, I returned to South Africa and realised what a lack there was in the understanding of what Art Therapy as a profession entails. For example, many people thought that Art Therapy was just the learning of skills in order to interpret people’s artwork. This became an incentive for me to develop various Introductory Art Therapy Courses & Workshops in order to introduce the scope of the internationally developed Art Therapy practice. No art experience is required in order to participate in and benefit from the workshops.

One of the most important aspects of learning about Art Therapy is the hands-on experiential art-making process within the safety of a qualified and registered Art Therapist. This is why an Art Therapy course through correspondence is not possible. Please note that the Helios or the Art Therapy Academy is not recognized in South Africa and bears NO resemblance to what Art Therapy actually is. There are also NO trained or registered Art Therapists running their programmes. Please click here for the formal SANATO (South African National Art Therapy Organization) statement on Helios – The Art Therapy Academy. Any local training that is not registered and recognized by the HPCSA is tempting but illegal and undermines the integrity of the Art Therapy profession.

The importance of the process was the inspiration for my creating the 8-week ‘Art as Communication’ Course for people in South Africa to experience the Art Therapy process hands-on. After facilitating this workshop over 25 times, people began asking for another workshop to attend and to learn more theory.

The brainchild to this need was the ‘Intro to Art Therapy 5-Day Intensive Course’ (available in Cape Town or Johannesburg), which is the only course in South Africa that includes theory, case studies and experiential art-making in the presence of an internationally accredited Art Psychotherapist who is also registered legally with the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA). The course is targeted at adults (professionals, mental health practitioners, therapists, coaches, social workers, educators, artists etc) who are interested in and want to learn more about Art Therapy. The skills, tools and experiences gained by participants can be adapted to and incorporated in work environments such as running art groups, therapeutic practices, coaching etc. The workshops simultaneously serve as an extremely powerful journey for self-growth, insight and personal development through the expansion of one's creative resources, releasing creativity blocks, expansion of right brain potential and accessing more present moment awareness and playfulness in all areas of life.

All the Art Therapy groups include the essential experiential component whereby much of the learning is experienced and integrated through actual participation in the Art Therapy process. (There is now also a 3-Day Art Therapy Seminar available, which is a shorter version of the 5-Day Intensive).

These short courses do not qualify you to call yourself an Art Therapist or enable you to say that you use ‘Art Therapy’– however after participation in the courses you can by all means use art as a means of therapy or run process art groups etc. Again, this ensures the quality control of the profession and responsibility to clients both ethically and legally within the HPCSA and SANATO frameworks.

There are also various other shorter and directed Art Therapy Workshops available, all of which give you a dynamic and still legitimate and official taste of what Art Therapy really is! These groups range from formal to light and fun and include a 1-Day intro to Art Therapy, Mindfulness through Art, Coaching through Art, Mandala Workshops, Vision Board Workshop, Workshops for staff support in Education and workshops for Corporate teams – with Art Therapy, the creativity is endless!

Please go to the Courses and Workshops page for more information. These groups are run mainly in Cape Town but also in Johannesburg. All workshops may be facilitated for existing groups, organizations and corporate teams upon request and fine-tuned to your specific needs. Email for more info or to book.

For dates please look at the Courses and Workshops page or the Art Therapy South Africa Facebook page, under events.

Note: CPD points may be requested for workshops run for existing groups of therapists.

If you still have unanswered questions or wish to read more, please see the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page.

Where can I study overseas/internationally?

Here are some links to approved international trainings:

“I grew more than I thought possible.”

- Alfred -

“For the first time in my life I have discovered my true identity and can now answer the fundamental question of who I am!”

- Nonhlanhla -

“The magic that Sam unleashes through her knowledge is beautiful.”

- Charmaine -

“An inspirational, wonderful, creative self-exploratory journey, Thank you!”

- Robyn -

“Thank you for a thought-provoking and inspiring class! You are a fantastic therapist with a very caring and compassionate approach to listening! You made each and every person feel important by allowing each one the opportunity to feel safe enough to open up! Thank you for that.”

- Candace -

“Sam, you are so experienced and it is evident in your facilitation. You are really good at your job and do it with such professionalism.”

- Meryl -

“The course went beyond my personal expectations. I came thinking that we would mainly be learning about Art Therapy, which we did, but it was a big transformational experience for me which I was not expecting.”

- Megan Main-Baillie (Honours Psychology Student) -

“The Art Therapy was a gentle, creative and fun way to build trust and deliver outcomes. It was enjoyable and an extremely valuable experience in our Strategy workshop.”

- Daniella: Business Connexion -

“I didn’t realize how much I NEEDED Art Therapy. It was like rain falling on desert soil. And I have grown so much. My heart feels alive again. I will be back!”

- Heather (Owner of a Montessori Nursery School, Degree in Television) -

“It was a time to forget about the problems and the world around me. Sam is a brilliant facilitator. Even though I was nervous, it was a time for me to reflect and to enjoy how therapeutic art can be. It calmed the storm that reigned inside of me. The Mandala Art Therapy workshop is like having a picnic next to a quiet river. You granted time to reach that point where you can become quiet and can experience the Universe.”

- Anonymous -

“A very comprehensive and thorough intro into Art Therapy. Covered a lot of ground in 5 days and left with a priceless manual and a warm glow.”

- Kat -

“It was the best week of my life, I learnt that I could always be happy as long as I was in a happy and comfortable space, and if I wasn’t I needed to create that space. I learnt that I was in control and all I had to do was to take charge and have fun and paint on a bigger board i.e. see the bigger picture. I am so grateful for the opportunity that came my way and that I was able to embrace and savor it.”

- Anonymous -

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