Art Therapy

Creative and Therapeutic Arts at Children's National Health System

What is Art Therapy?

Art Therapy (according to the American Art Therapy Association) is a mental health profession that uses the creative process of art making to improve and enhance the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of individuals of all ages. It is based on the belief that the creative process involved in artistic self-expression helps people to resolve conflicts and problems, develop interpersonal skills, manage behavior, reduce stress, increase self-esteem, self-awareness, and achieve insight.

Art therapists are master’s-level professionals, who hold a degree in art therapy. Educational requirements include art therapy theory, counseling, psychotherapy, ethics, assessment and evaluation, individual, group, and family techniques, human and creative development, multicultural issues, research methods and practicum experiences in clinical, community, and/or other settings. Art therapists are skilled in the application of a variety of art modalities (drawing, painting, sculpture, and other media) and are able to adapt to many abilities for assessment and treatment.

What We Do

Art therapists at Children’s National Health System work as part of a collaborative, multi-disciplinary team to help individuals cope with the hospital experience. Through individual sessions or groups, art therapy offers supportive and developmentally appropriate opportunities for self–expression, exploration of feelings about illness and hospitalization, and opportunities for normalization and fun. Art therapy is available to both children and their families.


Art therapy researchers at Children’s National work to design, implement, and integrate clinical research examining art therapy interventions. Gathering research-based evidence helps to verify the importance of integrating art therapy with other treatment teams to ensure holistic patient-centered care.


Children’s offers a rich, multidisciplinary setting for those interested in strengthening clinical skills and growing as art therapists. Graduate internships are available to students actively enrolled in the George Washington University Art Therapy Graduate Program; we do not accept undergraduate applicants for internships. To be considered for an internship, one must:

  • Be actively enrolled in the George Washington University Art Therapy Graduate Program
  • Provide a resume
  • Provide professional and personal references
  • Present a portfolio of artwork 
  • Attend an interview
  • If offered a position, interns must complete an application process that includes medical and background clearance before practicum can commence. 

Two or more graduate Art Therapy Practicum positions with Creative and Therapeutic Art Services are available per school calendar year.

Please contact our office at 202-476-3255 with questions.