Overview of the role

Using art, drama or music to carry to improve a person’s mental, physical health and wellbeing.

Details of standard

This standard has options. Display duties and KSBs for:

Occupation summary

Arts Therapists work in a range of settings such as the NHS, local authorities, voluntary, or private sector, hospitals, clinics, education, shelters, hospices, or prisons.

The occupation’s broad purpose is to use art, drama or music to therapeutically improve service users’ mental and physical health and wellbeing. Arts therapists are both artists in their chosen field and psychological therapists. They use art, drama or music as their primary mode of communication. Arts therapies can help to enhance general development, autonomy, social interaction and communication skills, and can support both mental and physical rehabilitation. They may be used to address anxiety, confusion, pain, trauma and depression and to improve quality of life. Arts therapists help the individual to express feelings about themselves and others in different ways through arts therapy interventions. This is particularly helpful when emotions are too confusing to express verbally, when verbal communication is difficult, or when words are not enough to relay feelings.

In their daily work, an arts therapist interacts with a wide range of service users, of all ages, who may have a variety of difficulties, disabilities or diagnoses, such as emotional, social, behavioural or mental health problems, learning or physical disabilities, injuries, life-limiting conditions, neurological conditions or physical illnesses. Arts therapy sessions may be delivered individually or in groups, depending on service users’ needs. Arts therapists work closely with their team to provide and receive ongoing managerial, clinical and professional supervision and support. They engage in service development audit, outcome measurement and research. They also work with a range of wider stakeholders or organisations who may be involved in their service user's care or support, such as family, carers, education providers, or health and social care services.

An arts therapist in this occupation is responsible for managing a caseload of individuals with an array of problems, using person-centred approaches to assess a service user’s needs. They work collaboratively with service users to devise therapeutic plans that consider the individual’s complex psychological, emotional, cognitive, physical, communicative and social needs. They build a rapport with service users and create a safe environment to help them to develop their self-awareness and self-confidence, to improve their functioning and to support their mental well-being.

Typical job titles include:

Art psychotherapist Art therapist Dramatherapist Music therapist

Entry requirements

Apprentices will need to be proficient in art, drama or music before applying to this apprenticeship eg holding a degree or with experiential equivalence. In order to meet the HCPC requirements apprentices must be able to communicate in English to the standard equivalent to level 7 of the International English Language Testing System, with no element below 6.5, prior to entering the degree programme.

Core occupation duties

Duty KSBs

Duty 1 Practise safely and effectively within the scope of practice and within the legal and ethical boundaries of the profession.

K1 K2 K3 K4 K5 K6 K7 K8 K9 K10

S1 S2 S3 S4 S5 S6 S7 S8 S9 S10 S11 S12

B1 B2 B3

Duty 2 Look after own health and wellbeing, seeking appropriate support where necessary.

K11 K12

S13 S14


Duty 3 Practise as an autonomous professional, exercising professional judgement.


S15 S16 S17 S18 S19 S20 S21

B1 B2 B3

Duty 4 Practise in a non-discriminatory and inclusive manner recognising the impact of culture, equality and diversity.

K14 K15 K16 K17

S22 S23 S24 S25 S26


Duty 5 Communicate effectively, maintaining confidentiality and records appropriately.

K18 K19 K20 K21 K22 K23 K24 K25

S27 S28 S29 S30 S31 S32 S33 S34 S35 S36 S37

B1 B2 B3

Duty 6 Work with others.

K26 K27 K28 K29 K30 K31 K32

S38 S39 S40 S41 S42 S43 S44

B1 B2 B3

Duty 7 Reflect on, review and assure the quality of own practice.

K33 K34 K35 K36

S45 S46 S47 S48 S49


Duty 8 Establish and maintain a safe practice environment.

K37 K38

S50 S51 S52 S53

Duty 9 Promote public health and prevent ill health.

K39 K40

S54 S55

Option duties

Art duties

Duty KSBs

Duty 10 Draw on appropriate knowledge and skills to inform practice and apply the key concepts of the knowledge base relevant to the profession of Art Therapist.

K41 K42 K43 K44 K45 K46 K47 K48 K49 K50 K51 K52 K53 K54 K55 K56 K57 K58 K59 K60 K61 K62

S56 S57 S58 S59 S60 S61 S62 S63 S64 S65 S66 S67 S68 S69 S70

Drama duties

Duty KSBs

Duty 11 Draw on appropriate knowledge and skills to inform practice and apply the key concepts of the knowledge base relevant to the profession of Dramatherapist.

K41 K42 K43 K44 K45 K46 K47 K48 K49 K50 K51 K52 K53 K61 K62 K63 K64 K65 K66 K67 K68 K69

S56 S57 S58 S59 S60 S61 S62 S63 S64 S65 S66 S67 S68 S69 S71

Music duties

Duty KSBs

Duty 12 Draw on appropriate knowledge and skills to inform practice and apply the key concepts of the knowledge base relevant to the profession of Music Therapist.

K41 K42 K43 K44 K45 K46 K47 K48 K49 K50 K51 K52 K53 K61 K62 K70

S56 S57 S58 S59 S60 S61 S62 S63 S64 S65 S66 S67 S68 S69 S72 S73 S74 S75



K1: The importance of continuing professional development throughout own career. Back to Duty

K2: The value of therapy in developing insight and self-awareness through their own personal experience, including personal therapy. Back to Duty

K3: The importance of safeguarding, signs of abuse and relevant safeguarding. Back to Duty

K4: What is required of them by the Health and Care Professions Council, including but not limited to the Standards of conduct, performance and ethics. Back to Duty

K5: The importance of valid consent. Back to Duty

K6: The importance of capacity in the context of delivering care and treatment. Back to Duty

K7: The scope of a professional duty of care. Back to Duty

K8: Legislation, policies and guidance relevant to own profession and scope of practice. Back to Duty

K9: The role of the art, music or drama therapist in different settings. Back to Duty

K10: That the obligation to maintain fitness to practise includes engagement in own arts-based process. Back to Duty

K11: The importance of own mental and physical health and wellbeing strategies including personal therapies, in maintaining fitness to practise. Back to Duty

K12: How to take appropriate action if own health may affect own ability to practise safely and effectively, including seeking help and support when necessary. Back to Duty

K13: The need for active participation in training, supervision and mentoring in supporting high standards of practice, and personal and professional conduct, and the importance of demonstrating this in practice. Back to Duty

K14: Equality legislation and how apply it to own practice. Back to Duty

K15: The duty to make reasonable adjustments in practice. Back to Duty

K16: The characteristics and consequences of barriers to inclusion, including for socially isolated groups. Back to Duty

K17: That regard to equality, diversity and inclusion needs to be embedded in the application of all HCPC standards, across all areas of practice. Back to Duty

K18: When disclosure of confidential information may be required. Back to Duty

K19: The principles of information and data governance and be aware of the safe and effective use of health, social care and other relevant information. Back to Duty

K20: The need to ensure confidentiality is maintained in all situations in which service users rely on additional communication support, such as interpreters or translators. Back to Duty

K21: That the concepts of confidentiality and informed consent extend to all mediums, including illustrative clinical records such as photography, video and audio recordings and digital platforms. Back to Duty

K22: That the concepts of confidentiality and informed consent extend to illustrative records such as paintings, digital images and other creative practice. Back to Duty

K23: The characteristics and consequences of verbal and non-verbal communication and how these can be affected by difference of any kind including, but not limited to, protected characteristics, intersectional experiences and cultural differences. Back to Duty

K24: The need to support the communication needs of service users and carers, such as through the use of an appropriate interpreter. Back to Duty

K25: The need to provide service users or people acting on own behalf with the information necessary in accessible formats to enable them to make informed decisions. Back to Duty

K26: The principles and practices of other health and care professionals and systems and how they interact with own profession. Back to Duty

K27: The need to build and sustain professional relationships as both an autonomous practitioner and collaboratively as a member of a team. Back to Duty

K28: The qualities, behaviours and benefits of leadership. Back to Duty

K29: That leadership is a skill all professionals can demonstrate. Back to Duty

K30: The need to engage service users and carers as equal partners in planning, co-design and evaluating diagnostics and assessment outcomes to meet their needs and goals. Back to Duty

K31: The role of arts therapists as an integral part of health and social care provision for service users and their integration with health and social care. Back to Duty

K32: The need to establish and sustain a therapeutic relationship within a creative and containing environment. Back to Duty

K33: The value of reflective practice and the need to record the outcome of such reflection to support continuous improvement. Back to Duty

K34: The value of multi-disciplinary reviews, case conferences and other methods of review. Back to Duty

K35: The role and value of ongoing clinical supervision in an arts therapy context. Back to Duty

K36: The value of gathering and using data for quality assurance and improvement programmes. Back to Duty

K37: The need to maintain the safety of themselves and others, including service users, carers and colleagues. Back to Duty

K38: Relevant health and safety legislation. Back to Duty

K39: The role of own profession in health promotion, health education and preventing ill health. Back to Duty

K40: How social, economic and environmental factors (wider determinants of health) can influence a person’s health and well-being. Back to Duty

K41: The lived experiences of wellness and illness, as well as the effects of social disablement and exclusion, and consider this alongside diagnostic knowledge relevant to their profession. Back to Duty

K42: The roles of other professions in health and social care and how they may relate to the role of arts therapists within the integrated teams that serve communities. Back to Duty

K43: The structure and function of health and social care systems and services in the UK. Back to Duty

K44: The importance of working in partnership with service users when carrying out research. Back to Duty

K45: The theoretical basis of, and the variety of approaches to, assessment and intervention. Back to Duty

K46: The psychological and cultural background to health, and be aware of influences on the service user – therapist relationship. Back to Duty

K47: The core processes in therapeutic practice that are best suited to service users’ needs and be able to engage these to achieve productive outcomes. Back to Duty

K48: The therapeutic relationship, including its limitations. Back to Duty

K49: How and why different approaches to the use of the arts in arts therapy and in other settings varies according to context and purpose. Back to Duty

K50: Theories of group work and the management of group process. Back to Duty

K51: Theories relevant to work with an individual. Back to Duty

K52: theories of:- human development- psychology- human communication and language development- the continuum of mental health, psychiatric assessment and treatment and self-help and social resources- disability/impairment and ways in which people experience themselves as having been disabled- impairments of social functioning- the principal psychotherapeutic interventions and their theoretical bases- the nature and application of other relevant interventions. Back to Duty

K53: Different methods of understanding the experience of service users, including diagnosis, specifically mental health and learning disability, and be able to critique these systems of knowledge from differed socio-cultural perspectives. Back to Duty

K54: That while art therapy has a number of frames of reference, that the arts therapist must adopt a coherent approach to their therapy, including the relationship between theory, research and practice and the relevant aspects of connected disciplines. Back to Duty

K55: The practice and process of visual art-making. Back to Duty

K56: The role of the physical setting and the art-making process in the physical and psychological containment of emotions. Back to Duty

K57: The role and function of the art object within the relationship between service user and art therapist Back to Duty

K58: The role and use of visual symbols in art that communicate conscious and unconscious processes. Back to Duty

K59: The influence of socio-cultural context on the making and viewing of art in art therapy. Back to Duty

K60: That different approaches to the use of visual arts practice in therapeutic work have developed in different sociocultural and political contexts around the world. Back to Duty

K61: A range of research methodologies relevant to their role. Back to Duty

K62: The value of research to the critical evaluation of practice. Back to Duty

K63: The core processes and forms of creativity, movement, play and dramatic representation pertinent to practice with a range of service user groups. Back to Duty

K64: The symbolic value and intent inherent in drama as an art form, and with more explicit forms of enactment and re-enactment of imagined or lived experience. Back to Duty

K65: A range of theatrical representation techniques and be able to engage service users in a variety of performance-derived roles. Back to Duty

K66: That dramatherapy is a unique form of psychotherapy in which creativity, play, movement, voice, storytelling, dramatisation, improvisation and the performance arts have a central position within the therapeutic relationship. Back to Duty

K67: That different approaches to the discipline have developed from many different cultures and traditions. Back to Duty

K68: That the discipline has deep foundations within the many cultural traditions that use ritual, play, drama and performance for the enhancement of health. Back to Duty

K69: The key principles of influential theatre practitioners and their relevance to the therapeutic setting. Back to Duty

K70: The practice and principles of musical improvisation as an interactive, communicative and relational process, including the psychological and psychosocial significance and effect of shared music making. Back to Duty


S1: Identify the limits of own practice and when to seek advice or refer to another professional or service. Back to Duty

S2: Recognise the need to manage own workload and resources safely and effectively, including managing the emotional burden that comes with working in a pressured environment. Back to Duty

S3: Keep own skills and knowledge up to date. Back to Duty

S4: Maintain high standards of personal and professional conduct. Back to Duty

S5: Promote and protect the service user’s interests at all times. Back to Duty

S6: Engage in safeguarding processes where necessary. Back to Duty

S7: Respect and uphold the rights, dignity, values, and autonomy of service users, including own role in the assessment, diagnostic, treatment and/or therapeutic process. Back to Duty

S8: Recognise that relationships with service users, carers and others should be based on mutual respect and trust, and maintain high standards of care in all circumstances. Back to Duty

S9: Obtain valid consent, which is voluntary and informed, has due regard to capacity, is proportionate to the circumstances and is appropriately documented. Back to Duty

S10: Exercise a duty of care. Back to Duty

S11: Apply legislation, policies and guidance relevant to own profession and scope of practice. Back to Duty

S12: Recognise the power imbalance which comes with being a health care professional, and ensure it is not for personal gain. Back to Duty

S13: Identify own anxiety and stress and recognise the potential impact on own practice. Back to Duty

S14: Develop and adopt clear strategies, including personal therapies, for physical and mental self-care and self-awareness, to maintain a high standard of professional effectiveness and a safe working environment. Back to Duty

S15: Recognise own personal responsibility for and justify own decisions and actions. Back to Duty

S16: Use own skills, knowledge and experience, and the information available, to make informed decisions and / or take action where necessary. Back to Duty

S17: Make reasoned decisions to initiate, continue, modify or cease treatment or the use of techniques or procedures, and record the decisions and reasoning appropriately. Back to Duty

S18: Make and receive appropriate referrals, where necessary. Back to Duty

S19: Exercise personal initiative. Back to Duty

S20: Demonstrate a logical and systematic approach to problem solving. Back to Duty

S21: Use research, reasoning and problem-solving skills when determining appropriate actions. Back to Duty

S22: Respond appropriately to the needs of all different groups and individuals in practice, recognising this can be affected by difference of any kind including, but not limited to, protected characteristics, intersectional experiences and cultural differences. Back to Duty

S23: Recognise the potential impact of own values, beliefs and personal biases, which may be unconscious, on practice and take personal action to ensure all service users and carers are treated appropriately with respect and dignity. Back to Duty

S24: Make and support reasonable adjustments in owns and others’ practice. Back to Duty

S25: Actively challenge barriers to inclusion, supporting the implementation of change wherever possible. Back to Duty

S26: Take account of psychological, social, cultural, economic and other relevant factors when collecting case histories and other appropriate information. Back to Duty

S27: Adhere to the professional duty of confidentiality. Back to Duty

S28: Recognise and respond in a timely manner to situations where it is necessary to share information to safeguard service users, carers and/or the wider public. Back to Duty

S29: Use effective and appropriate verbal and non-verbal skills to communicate with service users, carers, colleagues and others. Back to Duty

S30: Communicate in English to the standard required for the profession. Back to Duty

S31: Work with service users and/or own carers to facilitate the service user’s preferred role in decision-making, and provide service users and carers with the information they may need where appropriate. Back to Duty

S32: Modify own means of communication to address the individual communication needs and preferences of service users and carers, and remove any barriers to communication where possible. Back to Duty

S33: Use information, communication and digital technologies appropriate to own practice. Back to Duty

S34: Explain the nature, purpose and techniques of therapy to service users and carers and proceed within an ethos of co-designing the therapeutic alliance. Back to Duty

S35: Keep full, clear and accurate records in accordance with applicable legislation, protocols and guidelines. Back to Duty

S36: Manage records and all other information in accordance with applicable legislation, protocols and guidelines. Back to Duty

S37: Use digital record keeping tools, where required. Back to Duty

S38: Work in partnership with service users, carers, colleagues and others. Back to Duty

S39: Contribute effectively to work undertaken as part of a multi-disciplinary team. Back to Duty

S40: Identify anxiety and stress in service users, carers and colleagues, adapting own practice and providing support where appropriate. Back to Duty

S41: Identify own leadership qualities, behaviours and approaches, taking into account the importance of equality, diversity and inclusion. Back to Duty

S42: Demonstrate leadership behaviours appropriate to own practice. Back to Duty

S43: Act as a role model for others. Back to Duty

S44: Promote and engage in the learning of others. Back to Duty

S45: Engage in evidence-based practice. Back to Duty

S46: Gather and use feedback and information, including qualitative and quantitative data, to evaluate the responses of service users to own care. Back to Duty

S47: Monitor and systematically evaluate the quality of practice, and maintain an effective quality management and quality assurance process working towards continual improvement. Back to Duty

S48: Participate in quality management, including quality control, quality assurance, clinical governance and the use of appropriate outcome measures. Back to Duty

S49: Evaluate care plans or intervention plans using recognised and appropriate outcome measures and, in conjunction with the service user where possible, revise the plans as necessary. Back to Duty

S50: Comply with all local operational procedures and policies. Back to Duty

S51: Work safely, including being able to select appropriate hazard control and risk management, reduction or elimination techniques in a safe manner and in accordance with health and safety legislation. Back to Duty

S52: Select appropriate personal protective equipment and use it correctly. Back to Duty

S53: Establish safe environments for practice, which appropriately manages risk. Back to Duty

S54: Empower and enable individuals, including service users and colleagues, to play a part in managing own health. Back to Duty

S55: Engage in occupational health, including being aware of immunisation requirements. Back to Duty

S56: Demonstrate awareness of the principles and applications of scientific enquiry, including the evaluation of treatment efficacy and the research process. Back to Duty

S57: Employ a coherent approach to the therapeutic process. Back to Duty

S58: Change own practice as needed to take account of new developments, technologies and changing contexts. Back to Duty

S59: Gather appropriate information. Back to Duty

S60: Analyse and critically evaluate the information collected. Back to Duty

S61: Select and use appropriate assessment techniques and equipment. Back to Duty

S62: Undertake and record a thorough, sensitive, and detailed assessment. Back to Duty

S63: Undertake or arrange investigations as appropriate. Back to Duty

S64: Conduct appropriate assessment or monitoring procedures, treatment, therapy or other actions safely and effectively. Back to Duty

S65: Critically evaluate research and other evidence to inform own practice. Back to Duty

S66: Engage service users in research as appropriate. Back to Duty

S67: Work with service users both to define a clear timeframe for the length of therapy, to review this with them, and to evaluate the therapy’s strengths, benefits and limitations. Back to Duty

S68: Formulate specific and appropriate management plans. Back to Duty

S69: Observe and record service users’ responses and assess the implication for diagnosis and intervention. Back to Duty

S70: Use a range of arts and art-making materials and techniques competently and be able to support a service user to work with these. Back to Duty

S71: Use a range of dramatic concepts, techniques and procedures including games, activities, styles and structures and to improvise drama spontaneously with service users in a variety of styles and idioms. Back to Duty

S72: Apply a coherent approach to their work, appropriate to each setting in which they practise. Back to Duty

S73: Make culturally informed use of a broad range of musical styles and genres within their music therapy practice and continue to develop this through engagement in their own arts-based process. Back to Duty

S74: Apply a high degree of musicianship, including the ability to play at least one musical instrument to a high level, and to use their singing voice, a harmonic instrument and digital technology to a competent level. Back to Duty

S75: Use a range of music and music-making techniques competently including improvisation, structured musical activities, listening approaches and creation and composition of material and music technology where appropriate and be able to support a service user to work with these. Back to Duty


B1: Treat people with dignity and respect, being non-discriminatory and showing awareness of their rights and choices and being prepared to advocate for these, whilst acting in their best interests. Back to Duty

B2: Be trustworthy and behave professionally. Back to Duty

B3: Demonstrate empathy and compassion for clients, colleagues and others. Back to Duty


English and Maths

Apprentices without level 2 English and maths will need to achieve this level prior to taking the End-Point Assessment. For those with an education, health and care plan or a legacy statement, the apprenticeship’s English and maths minimum requirement is Entry Level 3. A British Sign Language (BSL) qualification is an alternative to the English qualification for those whose primary language is BSL.

Other mandatory qualifications

MSc/MA in either Art Therapy/Art Psychotherapy, Dramatherapy or Music Therapy accredited by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC)

Level: 7 (integrated degree)

Additional details

Regulated standard

This is a regulated occupation.

Regulator body:

Health and Care Professions

Training Provider must be approved by regulator body

EPAO must be approved by regulator body

Occupational Level:


Duration (months):



this apprenticeship will be reviewed in accordance with our change request policy.

Status: Approved for delivery
Level: 7
Degree: integrated degree
Reference: ST0633
Version: 1.2
Date updated: 01/09/2023
Approved for delivery: 5 April 2019
Route: Health and science
Typical duration to gateway: 24 months (this does not include EPA period)
Maximum funding: £19000
Options: Art, Drama, Music
Regulated standard:
This is a regulated occupation
Regulator body:Health and Care Professions
Training Provider must be approved by regulator body
EPAO must be approved by regulator body
LARS Code: 432
EQA Provider: Office for Students
Employers involved in creating the standard: British Associate of Dramatherapists (BADth, British Association of Art Therapists (BAAT),, British Association of Music Therapy (BAMT), Cambridgeshire County Council, Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust, Chestet University, Chiltern Music Therapy, East London NHS Foundation Trust, Health Education England (HEE), Inspirative Arts Derby CIC, Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust, Skills for Health, South London & Maudsley Mental Health NHS Trust, Surrey & Borders NHS Partnership Trust, University of Hertfordshire, West London Mental Health NHS Trust

Version log

Version Change detail Earliest start date Latest start date Latest end date
1.2 Standard, end-point assessment plan and funding band revised 01/09/2023 Not set Not set
1.1 End-point assessment plan and funding revised. 21/02/2022 31/08/2023 Not set
1.0 Approved for delivery 05/04/2019 20/02/2022 Not set

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