Israel is a country of varied populations, natives and immigrants, different cultures and religions and a history of ongoing conflict. Art therapy has originally emerged and developed as a form of trauma treatment for victims of the Holocaust and their families, and for war veterans of the Yom Kippur War. In the 1980s, Israeli society was looking for novel and effective ways to help various populations affected by these traumatic events. It was then that five institutions were founded to teach art therapy, among them Beit Berl College. At the end of the 1990s the Israeli Ministry of Education, in a move that was relatively pioneering compared to other countries worldwide, created a system for providing art therapy to school children all over the country, in both the regular and special education streams. There are currently 7,000 Art Therapists in Israel, of which 3,000 work in the school systems. These include around 300 Arabic-speaking art therapists that work in the Arab sector, which was initially resistant to therapy in general and to art therapy in particular, mainly due to religious-cultural differences. In addition to the art psychotherapy conducted in clinics and within the various national institutions, art therapy in Israel is also an integral part of the mental health services, such as psychiatric hospitals and clinics. Art therapists in Israel treat war veterans and victims of civilian terror attacks, Bedouins in the Negev desert, mixed groups of Palestinians and Jews who have incurred trauma and refugees and Asylum Seekers. The Art Therapy Department at Beit Berl Academic College has developed a model called Community Arts as a Tool for Bridging Diverse Populations and Trauma Relief.


There are currently seven training programmes at Masters level in Israel, all of which are recognized by the Ministry of Education and regulated by the Ministry’s Council for Higher Education. The Council for Higher Education (CHE), which is the official authority for higher education in Israel and determines policy for the higher education system, regulates the accreditation. The MA training programmes are recognized by the national professional association. The training programmes are required to deliver a high standard clinical training and supervision. The pedagogies are theoretical and experiential art. Theoretical seminars such as psychotherapy and art therapy teach past founding principles through to current perspectives. They include qualitative and quantitative research and art therapy research and evaluation methods. Training courses include visual art therapy supervision and issues in advanced psychopathology. The programmes teach and train Arts therapy students for work with various populations in different settings, and Beit Berl College offers transformative-experiential dynamic courses, such as group art therapy for specific populations and studio art therapy.


In 2010, the Council for Higher Education published uniform guidelines for academic recognition of creative arts therapy M.A. programs. In 2014, the Israeli Higher Council for Arts Therapies was established to unify the professional approach to arts therapies in Israel, with guidelines for advanced clinical training and guidelines for clinical supervision for Arts therapies students and practitioners. Arts therapy now has a protected title in Israel and the arts therapy profession includes the specified modalities: "visual Art Therapy", Bibliotherapy, Dance-Movement Therapy, Dramatherapy, Music Therapy and Psychodrama. It has been regulated by the Ministry of Health since 1992, and the Ministry of Higher Education has regulated the Academic Master Degree since 2008. There is currently an Arts Therapy Law on the government’s agenda introducing criminal sanctions to anybody practicing the profession without the required training and licence, in order to establish state-recognised positions for arts therapists. The Israeli National Association for Arts Therapy called Y'A.H'A.T. (Formation. Expression. Therapy) was founded in 1971. The various modalities of the association are members of different professional associations. It collaborates with various professional associations, and has recently created a new program, called "ACADEMIYAHAT", which provides enrichment programmes for Arts therapists in their field. Arts therapists in Israel work with varied ages and populations. Many are employed by the Ministry of Education, working in the special or regular education systems. Others are employed by the Ministry of Welfare, working in health services, such as hospitals and clinics. Some Arts therapists are employed by non-profit organizations and work with youth at risk. Art therapists are also employed by the Ministry of Defense, working with veterans, and others work in private clinics. Most Arts therapists in Israel work in psychodynamic, humanistic and phenomenological approaches. Many integrate cognitive-behavioural methods and some work in systemic approaches. Arts therapists provide individual, dyadic and group therapy.


Arts therapy research in Israel is methodologically varied and examines different aspects of arts therapy, and studies include local and international research collaborations. Israeli arts therapists participate in national and international conventions of varied subjects in the fields of psychology, ethics and education. Training programmes value social sciences qualitative, quantitative and mixed methods research, and some Arts therapists study for PhDs in related fields, such as Welfare, Health, Psychology and Education departments. Funding for research comes mainly from education and social sciences grants from academic institutions and from independent organizations or associations. Funding is also made available by the Planning and Budgeting Committee (PBC), which is responsible for funding the Israeli system of higher education. The Art Therapy Department at Beit Berl has established a research center named T he art materials and materials of the soul research lab where researchers, students and graduates pursue research into art materials and their unique psychodynamic domains, the art therapy studio, autism, communities in crisis, VR and post-trauma, a unique field that is explored through studio work and exhibitions. Over the past few years there has been an increase in international research collaborations between different creative arts therapies modalities, and Beit Berl College is currently conducting research studies in collaboration with Nepal, India, Europe and the US.