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Art Therapy

child's painting

Understanding 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 and self-awareness, and achieve insight.

Art therapists are professionals who hold a master’s degree in art therapy and are credentialed, board certified and in many cases, licensed.

Educational Requirements

  • Art therapy theory
  • Assessment and evaluation
  • Counseling
  • Ethics
  • Human and creative development
  • Individual, group and family techniques
  • Multicultural issues
  • Practicum experiences in clinical, community and other settings
  • Psychotherapy
  • Research methods

Art therapists are skilled in the application of a variety of art modalities (drawing, painting, sculpting and other media) and are able to adapt to many different abilities for assessment and treatment.

What We Do

Art therapists at Children’s National Hospital work as part of a collaborative, multidisciplinary team to help individuals cope with the hospital experience. Art therapy is available to both children and their families.

We provide art therapy services to the following units/clinics:

  • Gastrointestinal/Intestinal Rehab and 7E
  • Heart and Kidney, Cardiac Intensive Care, Pediatric Intensive Care
  • Hemodialysis
  • Neuro-Ortho, Surgical Care

Our program helps individuals by:

  • Exploring feelings about illness and hospitalization
  • Fostering of the development and understanding of healthy coping strategies and pain management
  • Providing opportunities for normalization and fun
  • Promoting social interaction and sense of community within the hospital environment
  • Offering supportive and developmentally appropriate opportunities for self-expression

We are also a Beads of Courage member hospital and provide the program to our individuals with chronic illness.


Children’s National 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 do the following:

  • Be actively enrolled in a graduate art therapy 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 extensive application process that includes medical and background clearance before practicum can commence.

One or more graduate art therapy practicum positions with Creative and Therapeutic Art Services are available per school calendar year.


We accept art supply donations from those who are interested in helping the Art Therapy Program at Children's National continue to provide services throughout the unit. If you are interested in donating, please email us.

Contact Us

For more information about Art Therapy with Creative and Therapeutic Art Services, please email us or call us at 202-476-3255.