The Evolving Identity of Art Therapists: A Survey

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Perdue, Shelby
Master of Arts in Art Therapy
A quantitative online survey study was conducted in the United States in an attempt to identify potential variables influencing the professional identity of art therapists. The goal of the study was to expand on previous research regarding the professional identity development of art therapists and to develop a basic understanding of the current and most essential aspects of the art therapist identity. The survey first measured participants on personal and professional demographics including the types of training and credentials art therapists seek, as well as participant’s general level of education and experience. Then, using a Likert-type rating scale, participants rated how strongly they agreed statements regarding formal training and professional experiences impacted how they identify themselves and conceptualize their profession. The researcher also sought to determine whether a more cohesive and unified professional identity was possible and/or desired. A link to an online questionnaire was emailed to AATA members and affiliate state chapters. This link was also advertised via social media sites Facebook, LinkedIn, and on the AATA community boards to attract a continuum of art therapy professionals ranging from students to retired art therapists. The responses to the survey highlighted weaknesses in the research design and indicated that the answer to the question of what aspects are essential to the professional identity of art therapists was much more complicated than anticipated by the researcher. However the results were useful in helping the researcher to gain a better understanding of the profession of art therapy and may point to areas of study for further focus regarding art therapy professional identity.