As an art therapy major, you can look for art therapy internships that will give you a better understanding of the skills you learned in your classes and gain some experience working with real patients too. Though some internships are only open to those in graduate programs, you'll also find programs designed for undergrads that will look great on your grad school application. The top internships require a time commitment on your part of no more than 20 hours.
Art Gallery and Studio Internships
If you want to stay close to home, look for internships available in local art galleries and studios near your college campus or home. These studios often have programs designed for children that teach them how they can use art therapy to improve their self-esteem and deal with problems they experience at home or school. Some of these programs may require that you work more as a teacher than a therapist, but you'll have the chance to work with patients who need your help.
Family and Children Services
Social workers often assist children going through traumatic events in their lives. Depending on where you live, those social workers might work for the Department of Family and Children Services or a similar department. Internships for art therapy majors are available through those departments and give you the chance to spend more time working with children of different ages. Social workers use art therapy as a way to open up the lines of communication and to help children feel safe talking about what they went through.
Medical Centers and Hospitals
You can also look for internships available in local hospitals and medical centers. Art therapy is a common form of therapy used in major children's hospitals located in big cities like Los Angeles, Miami and Philadelphia, but you may find that smaller hospitals need help learning the benefits of these programs and implementing one. Interns will generally meet with kids diagnosed with serious illnesses and help them conquer their fears and improve their self-esteem through the use of arts and crafts projects like painting or sculpting.
Though many of the top art therapy internships involve working with children, some believe that these techniques and methods can help adults too. Doing an internship in a retirement home lets you work with those suffering from Alzheimer's, dementia and similar disorders. As they paint and do other projects, they learn how to battle stress and better handle some of their symptoms. Those projects can also help them recall events that happened years ago and remember the loved ones they forgot over the years.
Talk with your school about whether you can do a longer internship with a volunteer organization. Many colleges will give you up to three full credits for an internship that lasts an entire semester, and some of these organizations need students willing to commit to working for at least a semester or over the course of the summer. One example is Art Relief International, which believes that art can change society as a whole. It offers internships both abroad and in domestic locations. Its official site lists past and current projects as focusing on the creation of new art pieces, designing and developing art programs and soliciting donations for future projects.
As an art therapy major, you learn the importance that art has in the lives of others. Once you finish your degree, you might work for the government, in a hospital or with small children. Some of the top art therapy internships available today include those in volunteer organizations, children's hospitals and retirement homes.