Why Does Art Therapy Cost So Much?

Art Therapists are generally not cheap when it comes to our hourly rate. The rate for Art therapy is generally around $100-$180/50 minutes. This can seem quite high if you don’t understand everything that goes into the 50 minutes you see your therapist for.

Are we trying to make a ton of money from mental health problems? Not most of us. In fact, our rates are quite low considering what is needed to prepare for sessions, what is needed after sessions, and what is needed between sessions.  I wrote this article to demonstrate the extra things that go on in order to make your 50-minute session exist. This article is not meant to shame in any sort of way. Most Art Therapists have a sliding scale because we understand that it can be hard to pay for therapy. However, if you were ever wondering if our high prices are justified, I hope this article helps clarify just how much work goes in to creating that 50-minute session.

 Preparing For Sessions

Education:
In order to be certified with the BCACC or the CCPA you must have a masters degree in counselling. Certification is important as it maintains a minimum baseline of knowledge that each certified counselor must have. A masters degree costs a decent amount these days, let alone the amount of time it take to complete.

Supervision:
Most therapists engage in supervision at least once a month. We are not required to do so; however, it is seen as unethical by many practitioners not to do so. A supervisor is someone who has been practicing much longer than you and someone you can discuss your cases confidentially with. Without supervision we would not question our methods. Supervisors help with business, with clients, and with therapist well-being. Supervision costs anywhere from $70/hour to $200/hour.

Mental Acuity:
Our bodies react to your bodies and vice versa; hence, it is important for an Art Therapist to continuously work on lowering their threshold to anxiety and distress. This is different for everyone; however, for me it means daily meditation, dream journaling, and attending Aikido regularly. This takes up quite a bit of time in my week and yet it is something I consider ethically imperative in order to be fully present for clients and to resist any triggering that might occur during our sessions.  Taking time to work on my own relationship with anxiety and various other mental dis-eases is not optional as a therapist; rather, it is an ethical responsibility.

Space:
Art Therapist generally rent an office space and they buy and maintain their own supplies. This means that before our session I gently place all of the art supplies in their particular spots, I make sure the pencils are sharpened, that the brushes are clean, and that there is an ample amount of paper and painters tape. When I am not writing notes, I am usually cutting paper into various shapes, cleaning the office, restocking tea, or doing something similar.

What is Needed After Sessions

Clean up:
Art therapist are responsible for making sure their art space is clean and tidy, that the brushes are clean, and that supplies are ample and in good repair.

Notes:
Certified counsellors and therapists must write notes regarding their sessions with clients. These notes need to be locked away in a filing cabinet or kept securely in another manner.

Letting go:
Before the next session begins, I always take time to breath and let the previous session go. This can be very difficult after a particularly hard or taxing session. I will revisit any triggers the session had for me after all the clients have gone and I can take the time I need to reflect, process, and release. Taking in stories is a blessing; however, some stories can be very heavy and need extra time to process. This processing often also takes place during supervision. Therapists have a hard time leaving work at the office because part of the process of therapy involves understanding our own response to the client’s session. In other words, your session doesn’t end after 50 minutes, rather it keeps peculating in both your own psyche and in the therapists psyche.

In-between Sessions

Scheduling:
In order to keep everything running smoothly I must schedule clients according to all of our schedules. This means I work late on Sunday nights in order to provide one night a week that is available for clients that is outside of regular work hours. I must also make sure I schedule in enough time to eat, change paint water, and have forms ready for new clients. Scheduling happens every day at almost all hours of the day. I do my best to be there for my clients when they need me and to respond to their emails, texts, and calls, within 24 hours.

Business:
My private practice is run by myself, my accountant, and many other individuals who help me work and grow. However, the brunt of the work falls on my shoulders. In-between sessions I am the one updating my website, keeping up with privacy and confidentiality laws, creating invoices, sending out receipts, as well as answering emails, and questions from prospective, current, and past clients. In addition, I am often working on future workshops, updating policy forms, or networking with other health practitioners.

Continuing Education:
I am registered with the CCPA which means I must take a certain number of courses every 3 years in order to keep my certification. When I am not seeing clients, I am often attending online seminars, or continuing my education via classes or conferences.

Mental Health:
As I mentioned before, listening to the amazing stories my clients share about their lives can take a toll. Compassion fatigue is always a danger when you are a therapist and it is important to tune in to your body and mind in order to avoid over taxing yourself. Many therapists, including myself, see other therapists in addition to supervision. Finding time to schedule in your own therapy appointment can take some work; however, it is vitally important to take care of your own mental health when you are working with mental health almost every day.

I hope this gave you a bit more insight into why we charge the amount we charge, and as to why most of us can only see a certain number of clients per week.  Being an Art Therapist can be exhausting, and yet it is also the most amazing career for those that are called to it. Thank you for reading and if you have any questions please feel free to send me an email at cammi@creativeconnectiontherapy.ca

Thank you for existing!

-Cammi

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