Art Psychotherapy - MSc
Art psychotherapy is a profession with creativity at its heart and a personally rewarding career! If you have at least one year’s experience of working with people within a mental or physical health service, education, social services or the voluntary sector, this MSc in Art Psychotherapy course will help you build on your experience and develop new skills as an art psychotherapist.
The life-changing potential of psychotherapy, the power of artistic expression and your desire for a more meaningful career all meet on this unique course. This is the only art psychotherapy training course in Scotland.
You can study full or part-time, and as a graduate you will be able to register with the Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC) to work as an art psychotherapist.
- Stimulating learning environment: The course is based in our School of Health Sciences and offers a stimulating learning environment with a practical focus. Your learning will be enriched by the interdisciplinary structure of the course as you study alongside your peers from various other pathways within QMU’s Person-Centred Practice Framework, including the MSc Music Therapy and MSc Dramatherapy.
- Industry links: We have excellent relationships with our colleagues across the sectors that employ art psychotherapists which means that there are ongoing opportunities for knowledge exchange, with input to the course by a range of experienced professionals working in specialised fields of practice.
- Placements: You’ll benefit from excellent placement opportunities working with a variety of people, in schools, the NHS, community settings and other organisations.
- Internationally recognised: The course is proud to have an international perspective. It carries 240 credits/120 European Credits that are transferable across Europe.
- Staff expertise: The team are all experienced art psychotherapists, bringing expertise in a range of areas of practice and research. Most are still in practice, working with people throughout the life cycle and in a variety of settings: schools, NHS settings and in private practice.
- Professional Accreditation/Registration: Our graduates are eligible for registration with the Health & Care Professions Council as Arts Therapists and are eligible for full membership of British Association of Art Therapists. The course meets the requirements of the Health and Care Professions Council Standards of Proficiency for Art Therapists.
- International cohort: Students on this course usually come from across the globe, which makes for a very rich and interesting learning experience.
- Embracing our environment: Our campus has extensive landscaped grounds and we are developing an environmental element to our teaching, encouraging our students to connect with, and be inspired by, the natural world around us.
Art Psychotherapy (MSc): More information and what you will achieve
The creation of art in the presence of a trained art psychotherapist can have a profoundly positive effect for people experiencing difficulties in their lives. Art therapy is not a recreational activity (although the sessions can be enjoyable) but a form of psychotherapy that helps people address confusing and distressing issues.
Art psychotherapists work with people to access their own image-making abilities. You could work with people of any age, from very small children through to older adults, helping them to use art media to express themselves and communicate. You may work with groups or individuals.
You and the person you are working with will jointly explore the meaning of the process and image/art object in the light of personal experiences and/or interpersonal relationships that may sometimes be distressing or troubling. The aim is to facilitate the intra-personal and interpersonal communication of experiences that may be difficult to put into words. The art psychotherapist’s task is to support processes of emotional integration by providing a safe, reliable and containing therapeutic environment within which the person can create and use art making to develop insight and promote change.
This course will introduce you to the profession, theory and practice of art psychotherapy. Regular practice placements providing art psychotherapy sessions will build on your theoretical learning and allow you to apply your developing skills.
All students are required to be in personal psychodynamic therapy throughout the duration of the course.
Students will attend supervision on site at the practice placement setting and at QMU throughout the training.
How will I be taught?
Structure and exit awards
You must complete the full MSc (240 credits/120 ECTS) to be eligible to register with the HCPC and to work as an art psychotherapist.
Single module study is not available, but we do offer an Introduction to Art Psychotherapy short course (non-credited).
Teaching, learning and assessment
You will attend classes, work in groups and carry out independent learning. Assessment methods include reports, essays and presentations. You will undertake a practice placement (see below).
Placements are vital to your learning process. You will undertake a supervised practice placement spread over two or three semesters. For full-time students it is two days per week and for part-time students it is one day per week. Your placements could be in various settings throughout Scotland, including education, voluntary and healthcare environments. Placements are allocated by QMU.
Teaching hours and attendance
- Year One: Classes usually take place from 9.00am-5.00pm on Mondays and Tuesdays.
- Year Two: Classes usually take place from 9.00am-5.00pm on Thursdays only.
- Full-time students attend practice placement two days per week and part-time students attend one day per week over two semesters.
- Year One: Classes take place on Tuesdays, 9.00am-5.00pm.
- Year Two: Classes take place on Mondays 9am-5.00pm.
- Year Three and/or Four: classes will take place on a Thursday only, 9.00am-5.00pm.
- Part-time students wishing to complete their Clinical Project in Year Four will attend personal academic tutorials by appointment.
All students will be required to carry out independent learning. The Art Studio will be open for practice during evenings and weekends by appointment.
*NB The part-time route is subject to change.
There are usually around 45 students on this course each year. Some classes are larger as some teaching is shared with MSc Music Therapy. Much of the teaching, however, is in small groups of 6-12.
You can read more about the teaching staff on this course at the bottom of this page. Please note that teaching staff is subject to change.
- Theory and Practice of Person-Centred Health and Wellbeing (20 credits)
- Leading Person-Centred Practice for Health and Wellbeing (20 credits)
- Practice-based Learning 1 (40 credits)
- Developmental and Relational Perspectives (20 credits)
- Art Psychotherapy Theory and Practice (20 credits)
- Practice-based Learning 2 (40 credits)
- Arts Therapies in Context (20 credits)
- Dissertation (60 credits)
Years One and Two:
- Art Psychotherapy Practice-based Learning 1 (Part 1) (40 credits)
- Developmental and Relational Perspectives (20 credits)
Theory and Practice of Person-Centred Health and Wellbeing (20 credits)
- Art Psychotherapy Theory and Practice (20 credits)
- Art Psychotherapy Practice Based Learning 1 (Part 2) (40 credits)
Leading Person-Centred Practice for Health and Wellbeing (20 credits)
- Art Psychotherapy Practice-Based Learning 2 Part 1 (40 credits)
Years Three and Four:
- Art Psychotherapy Practice-Based Learning 2 (part 2) (40 credits)
- Arts Therapies in Context (20 credits) Dissertation (60 credits)
*The part-time route is subject to change
NB The modules listed are correct at time of posting (October 2023) but are subject to change. In the event that modules change, QMU will seek to use reasonable endeavours to ensure that there is no detrimental impact on students.
You will graduate with the knowledge and practical confidence to start work as an art therapist thanks to the course’s strong research component. Training as an art psychotherapist has the potential to be a dynamic and exciting career. Art psychotherapists work with a wide range of clients and communities, individually or with groups, within the public and private sectors. You could work in the UK or travel and use your skills to make a difference much further afield.
Art Psychotherapy (MSc): Entry requirements and application information
UK honours degree or equivalent in the area of the visual arts supported by a portfolio of art work in a variety of media over a period of time. Degrees in subjects such as psychology, social work, nursing and education will be considered if supported by a substantial portfolio of art work. Applicants will be contacted with further information regarding submission of an online portfolio, after submitting their application.
Normally a minimum of one year’s full-time experience (or part-time equivalent, typically 1000 hours) of work in a caring capacity or equivalent. Relevant work includes: nursing assistant, project worker, arts instructor, care work in a community setting, art teaching, or facilitating art workshops. Some experience of personal art psychotherapy or psychodynamic psychotherapy, or experiential workshops in creative therapies is desirable.
International: You will be required to provide evidence of English language competence at no less than IELTS 7.0 with no individual component score less than 6.5.
Interview: UK applicants are expected to attend an interview at QMU or online and will be required to submit their art portfolio electronically. Interviews will take place normally between December and May. Interviews for international students will be conducted over Microsoft Teams.
A satisfactory criminal records check from the Protection of Vulnerable Groups (PVG) Scheme, an occupational health check and personal indemnity insurance (normally through membership of the professional body) are required.
- The cost of the PVG check (£18 or £59 depending on the level of clearance required*) and the professional indemnity insurance are the responsibility of the student. Currently the cost of the health check is funded by the Scottish Government for Scottish students only and other students are responsible for this cost. This is however subject to change should the Scottish Government change their funding policy.
- The additional costs associated with placement travel and accommodation are the responsibility of the student, as are the cost of the weekly personal psychodynamic psychotherapy for the duration of the MSc Art Psychotherapy course (typically £35-60 per session).
*Please note that cost is subject to change.
If you have a disability, long-term physical or mental health condition, or learning disability, it should not stand in the way of your studying at QMU. However, if you are not sure whether your disability might be a barrier in your studies or in relation to the professional standards, please contact the disability service who will be able to have a conversation with you about reasonable adjustments and supports available to you.
Applying for this course
For more information on applying, or to apply for this course, please follow the links in the 'Start your application' box at the top right of this page.
We expect this course to be highly competitive and advise applicants to apply early to be considered.
Terms and Conditions
The delivery of this course is subject to the terms and conditions set out in our 2024/25 Entry - Terms and Conditions (Postgraduate).
More information and QMU contacts
Opportunities to meet us
Unfortunately, due to the high volume of applications and enquiries that we receive about this course, staff are unable to arrange one-to-one phone calls or meetings with potential applicants. We reply to all enquiries made via email. To speak to a member of the team in-person please attend one of the QMU postgraduate open days.
Answers to questions frequently asked about the MSc Art Psychotherapy Course
What are the entry requirements for the MSc Art Psychotherapy course?
- An honours degree or a professional qualification /vocational qualification in a relevant subject eg psychology, art, sociology, teaching.
- A minimum of 1000 hours of employment or voluntary experience.
- A portfolio of 12 examples of personal artwork
Experience of either personal therapy or experiential Art Psychotherapy workshops and participation in an introduction to Art Therapy course is beneficial.
What constitutes relevant work experience?
Relevant work includes work in a health or social care setting (for example: nursing assistant, project worker, arts instructor, support worker, social work) or experience of work in community settings or education (for example: community arts worker, teacher or teaching assistant).
Are applicants with degrees other than Fine Art considered?
A large number of students embarking upon the MSc Art Psychotherapy have a degree in visual art or a related field, which involves arts practice. Queen Margaret University does accept students with degrees or professional qualifications in other subjects relevant to Art Psychotherapy (for example: psychology, art history, nursing, occupational therapy, social work, sociology, medicine) as long as the applicant can also demonstrate an active art-making practice and has relevant work experience.
What should a portfolio include?
A portfolio should demonstrate a serious involvement with art media and your personal process of work with imagery. We want to see evidence that you have a committed art-making practice and are comfortable using a range of art materials. We do not teach technical skills related to the use of different art media on the course and it is important that you come to the course with confidence in this area.
Are there other steps I can take to prepare to apply for the MSc Art Psychotherapy?
Reading about art psychotherapy is essential and a pre-course reading list is provided at the end of this document. Introductory art therapy courses and workshops are also a helpful way of learning about the subject. QMU runs an introductory course in art psychotherapy each year and this is a good way of building your knowledge and determining whether this is the right career path for you.
Does QMU have Open Days?
QMU holds university postgraduate open evenings, usually one in the autumn and one in the spring. This offers potential applicants an opportunity to meet with representatives of the art psychotherapy programme and discuss any queries with them. The university also offers virtual meetings on those days. Please check the university website for details of the postgraduate open evenings.
How is the course structured?
Year One 9.00am-5.00pm on Mondays and Tuesdays, 2 days per week on placement plus 2 online modules
Year Two 9.00am-5.00pm on Thursdays only and 2 days per week on placement
Year One 9.00am-5.00pm on Tuesday, 1 day per week on placement and an online module
Year Two 9.00am-5.00pm on Monday, 1 day per week on placement and an online module
Year three 9.00am-5.00pm on Thursday and 1 day per week on placement
Year Four Part-time students wishing to complete their Clinical Project in Year Four will attend personal academic tutorials by appointment.
PLEASE NOTE: Part-time students will need to attend an intense introduction to placement at the start of year 1. They will need to be available 4 days a week, Monday-Thursday for the first 6 weeks of study.
You will also be required to carry out independent learning. The Art Studio will be open for practice during evenings and weekends, and outside of normal teaching hours.
How is the practice placement allocated?
Practice Placements are arranged and allocated by the Practice Placement Co-ordinator and Administrator in the Academic Administration. Students have two practice placements during the training course – one working with adults and one working with children or young people. The Practice Placement Coordinator will match the student's learning needs with a suitable practice placement. Efforts are made to arrange practice placements in or near the city where the student resides though some travel may be necessary.
What kinds of practice placements are offered?
The range of practice placements are extensive including placements within hospitals, schools, voluntary sector organisations, child and family centres, counselling services, prisons, drug and alcohol services, hospices, community based health centres, community based mental health teams, day centres for the elderly and for adults with physical and/or learning disabilities. The range of practice placements for art psychotherapy students changes from year to year.
What else do I need to know about placements?
Students are required to complete two years of practice placement. Participation in a weekly supervision seminar in university is a co-requisite of the practice placement. Students will be required to complete a police check / Disclosure Scotland (PVG) for their placement. International students are required to bring police checks with them for the start of the semester at the latest. Admissions may ask for this information to arrive three months prior to the start of the course so that a final offer of a place can be granted.
Why are students required to attend personal psychotherapy for the duration of the MSc Art Psychotherapy?
Students are required to attend weekly personal psychodynamic psychotherapy for the duration of the MSc Art Psychotherapy course. All of the registered art psychotherapy courses in the UK have this personal psychotherapy requirement. Responsibility for finding a therapist rests with the student. In general, students are advised to work with a therapist whose orientation is compatible with the psychodynamic orientation of the programme, with a minimum of five years experience BAAT, UKCP or BACP or HCPC State Registered.
Fees for personal therapy range on average from £35-60 per session. It is important to bear this additional expense in mind and budget for it.
Personal psychodynamic psychotherapy is seen to be supportive of the student whilst on the course and also enables a student to have personal experience of a therapeutic relationship. As personal therapy is a programme requirement, the student's therapist will be requested to submit a letter to the student’s personal academic tutor at the end of each semester informing her of the number of sessions the student has attended. Otherwise, the student's personal therapy is distinct from the course and is confidential between student and therapist. Personal psychotherapy is predominately carried out while seeing clients during semesters – on a weekly basis – while additional sessions may be carried out over the summer.
What are the course fees?
All postgraduate course fees are found on the QMU website. There are no grants and most students take out a student loan. Some applicants have received part funding from their employers.
Are there grants, trusts or scholarships for the course?
No grants are available. Some students have sought funding from other sources by consulting information on Education Awards in their local library. Other students have obtained a Career Development Loan from their bank.
May fees be paid over the course of a year or need full fees be paid at the outset of the academic year?
All postgraduate course fees are found on the QMU website.
What sort of tutorial support is available to students?
Each student on the course has a personal academic tutor (PAT) whose role is to help the student to integrate the different parts of the course and to be aware of any circumstances affecting the student’s learning on the course. Tutors will meet with their tutees at least once per semester to review the student's work. In addition, students will receive weekly supervision as part of their placement.
Is there support within college with students with special educational needs?
A member of the course team is an academic disability student coordinator and is able to meet with students to discuss requirements and offer advice in liaison with the academic disability services. For example, students with dyslexia may be advised how to be assessed, where to find technological support, and what sorts of extra support is available. In addition, there are workshops within the university on essay preparation and some tutorials are offered for students whose first language is not English. QMU subscribes to an equal opportunities policy. There is an access hardship fund within the college to which students experiencing financial difficulties may apply. You can Contact Registry for more information.
Are there studio facilities in the college for students wishing to continue with their own artwork?
There is currently one large art studio. Students can book this when it is not being used for teaching – and it is available during evenings and weekends. Students are encouraged to continue to pursue their own art-making practice and to find out about the media specific workshop facilities open to them in Edinburgh (eg sculpture, photography and printmaking). Students are also strongly encouraged to visit the many excellent museums and galleries in Edinburgh.
Do most students find employment after they graduate?
Employment opportunities vary with some regions of the UK offering more employment possibilities for qualified art psychotherapists than others. Some art psychotherapists will find employment in settings where their art psychotherapy knowledge combines with the requirements of the job. Examples would be a job as a project worker, art worker or family support worker within a community setting or a mental health practitioner within an NHS mental health team or school counselling service. Art psychotherapists find full, part-time and sessional work within statutory and voluntary sectors. Practice placement experience whilst a student contributes to an understanding of employment possibilities and enables students to consider realistically how to approach employment upon graduation.
The British Association of Art Therapists (BAAT), the professional organisation which newly qualified Art Therapists may join, publishes, a journal (International Journal of Art Psychotherapy), a Newsletter, and circulates online information about art therapy posts in the UK. In addition, BAAT Regional Groups enable art therapists to keep in touch with one another and focus upon local and professional issues and developments. Within BAAT there are a number of special interest groups, such as Art Therapy and Education, Art Therapy and Autistic Spectrum Disorders, Art Therapy and Palliative Care, Art Therapy and Learning Disability, Art Therapy in Forensic Settings and Art Therapy Race and Culture, creating networks which in turn promote employment.
What support is offered to International students?
We recommend pre-sessional courses to all applicants whose first language is not English.
QMU offers a range of preparatory English courses for students whose first language is not English. Interested students are advised to contact Recruitment & International Liaison Office. For information about student accommodation contact the Accommodation Office. We recommend pre-sessional courses to all applicants whose first language is not English.
How many students are accepted on the course each year?
35 full-time places and 12 part-time places are offered each year or the equivalent in terms of full and part-time places.
When should I apply?
Applicants are advised to apply between October and May. The initial application deadline is 1st of May. This is a competitive course and early applications are recommended, though late applicants may be considered.
The majority of interviews take place in the second semester between January and May.
For more information on application, contact QMU's Admissions Office. Please enclose your reference together with your application form.
What are the research interests of the staff?
Please see individual staff member details on the QMU Occupational and Art Therapies subject area website
Could I have a reading list?
Case, C. (2005) Imagining Animals: Art, Psychotherapy and Primitive States of Mind, Routledge.
Dubowski, J. and Evans, K. (2001) Art Therapy with Children on the Autistic Spectrum: Beyond Words, Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
Edwards, D. (2013) Art Therapy, Sage publications.
Gilroy, A. (2011) Art Therapy Research in Practice, Peter Lang Publishers.
Gilroy, A. (2006) Art Therapy, Research and Evidence-based Practice, Sage publications.
Hogan, S. (2001) Gender Issues in Art Therapy, Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
Huss, E. (2015) A Theory-based Approach to Art Therapy: Implications for teaching, research and practice (Explorations in Mental Health), Routledge.
Killick, K. (Ed.) (2017) Art Therapy for Psychosis: Theory and Practice (The International Society for Psychological and Social Approaches to Psychosis Book Series), Routledge.
Leibmann, M. and Weston,S. (2015) Art Therapy with Physical Conditions, Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
Schaverien, J. (2009) The Revealing Image: Analytical Art Psychotherapy in Theory and Practice, Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
Wood, C. (Ed.) (2011) Navigating Art Therapy, A Therapist's Companion, Routledge.
Interview with Hsien-Kai Wu
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