AmericanArtTherapy.org describes art therapy as a mental health profession employed in many clinical settings that focuses on the use of creative and expressive art to improve the physical mental and emotional quality of life for people and groups of all ages.
Art therapists have some skills in common with mental health counselors but they employ creative work such as drawings paintings and other types of art expression to assist clients in dealing with problems and conflicts improving their psychological functioning and interpersonal skills and reducing stress and raising the level of self-esteem.
Arts therapists regard art as a form of symbolic communication as well as an aid in the healing process following psychological trauma. Art therapists are adept at selecting the materials and creative avenues that will best help clients deal with negative experiences improve relationships with family and friends and improve their general sense of well-being.
The American Art Therapy Association sets the standards for art therapy education ethics and practice and the Art Therapy Credentials Board (ATCB) grants art therapy credentials that are contingent upon educational attainment. In general art therapists have master's degrees that have trained them in how to use art in a therapeutic manner. They are usually licensed in creative arts therapy art therapy professional or mental health counseling or in marriage and family therapy. Research career options in art therapy here.
The website Payscale.com reports that as of October 2010 salaries for this profession range from approximately $34000 to $49000.