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Phd in creative arts therapies, accreditation.

The PhD in Creative Arts Therapies is a research-focused program housed within the Department of Creative Arts Therapies in the College of Nursing & Health Professions at Drexel University, a comprehensive global research university located in Philadelphia, PA.

The mission of the Creative Arts Therapies department is to provide exemplary and innovative professional preparation for our students to become ethically informed, clinically competent, critically engaged, socially and culturally responsive practitioners and scholars.

The PhD in Creative Arts Therapies program aims to prepare the next generation of researchers and leaders in creative arts therapies. By providing a research environment that encourages innovative and rigorous research, we seek to cultivate scholars who will advance knowledge, theory and clinical practice; drive innovation; and contribute to the growth of the creative arts therapies and ultimately to the mental, physical and social health of the society.


The PhD in Creative Arts Therapies program is one of four graduate programs offered by the Department of Creative Arts Therapies at Drexel University. The department also offers Master of Arts degrees in Art Therapy and Counseling, Music Therapy and Counseling and Dance/Movement Therapy and Counseling. PhD students have the opportunity to be involved in the MA programs through teaching, supervision and thesis and culminating project advisement. Because the department is part of the College of Nursing and Health professions, students and faculty have many opportunities for interdisciplinary learning and scholarship.


The PhD program offers a flexible in-person/hybrid learning format to help students balance school, family and work demands. Students who wish to receive a research fellowship are required to be residential for the first two years of the program. Students who opt to be self-paying will be able to attend classes remotely.


The PhD curriculum consists of interactive learning modules that are designed to promote critical thinking, integrate interdisciplinary bodies of knowledge, develop research skills and gain hands-on research experience. The modules include:

Interdisciplinary: Challenges students to study, explore, critically evaluate and synthesize areas of collective knowledge that contribute to the articulation of the interdisciplinary philosophical and theoretical foundations for the fields in the creative arts therapies.

Research: Educates students in traditional and innovative approaches to research that will contribute to the generation and dissemination of substantive knowledge in the students' respective fields. The research module includes interdisciplinary research courses as well as courses in grant writing and scientific writing.

Self/Other Artistic Knowledge: Introduces the exploration of the intrinsic intersubjective therapeutic processes emergent through artistic inquiry and parallel to the actual arts therapies experience.

Practicum: Emphasizes the transformation of theoretical knowledge to practical application through a research practicum and teaching practicum.

Dissertation: An original, rigorous research project, the content of which directly relates to the development and contribution to the theory and practice of the student's creative arts therapies discipline.

A hallmark of quality doctoral training is mentorship. Our PhD faculty pride themselves in offering close mentorship to our students. Besides supervision in terms of research and academic development, faculty also mentor students in areas of career development and professional networking. In addition, because the PhD program is based on a cohort model, students receive significant support from their fellow students.


The PhD program offers students a well-rounded foundation to become independent researchers and scholars. Students gain skills in traditional and innovative research methods through course work as well as extensive hands-on research experiences.

Each PhD student is offered a Research Fellowship which provides full tuition remission as well as a generous stipend. In return, students assist faculty in their federally funded research labs. Research Fellowship work may range from assisting with literature reviews, grant writing, data collection and data analysis to being a study coordinator of a clinical trial.

Moreover, because the PhD Program is situated in the College of Nursing and Health Professions, students participate in interdisciplinary research courses and engage in interdisciplinary team science.

Finally, an important aspect of becoming an independent researcher is to build a track record of funded research and scholarly dissemination. Through mentorship, our students have been successful in obtaining funding for their dissertation research. In addition, research fellows present with our faculty at prominent conferences and co-author publications. These experiences in the conduct and dissemination of research are unique to the PhD program at Drexel University and are unparalleled in doctoral training programs in the Creative Arts Therapies in the U.S.


The Department of Creative Arts Therapies seeks to promote social justice and to embrace diversity. All program faculty, supervisors, staff and students shall maintain respect for differences including, but not limited to, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, gender expression, age, religion/spirituality, ability, socioeconomic status, immigration status and culture. Each person will be responsible and accountable for creating and maintaining a culture of respect at every level of the program.

At the University level, through numerous initiatives, programs and offerings, we strive to cultivate a more inclusive university dedicated to fostering, celebrating and protecting our diverse community of students, faculty and professional staff.

On the program level, the PhD program's commitment to diversity permeates the learning culture, curriculum and andragogy. To that end, we strive to continually and thoughtfully consider the ways in which our personal values and beliefs are culturally situated and powerfully influence our perspectives about theory and research in the Creative Arts Therapies.

The College of Nursing and Health Professions has a compliance process that may be required for every student. Some of these steps may take significant time to complete. Please plan accordingly.

Visit the Compliance pages for more information.

Admission Requirements

The application process involves an initial written application screen, followed by an interview for selected candidates with the final decision contingent on overall aptitude.

Application: Available online at . Application fee: $65

Deadline: Applications received by January 15 will receive priority in admission decisions.

Degree: A Master's degree in art therapy, dance/movement therapy, music therapy or expressive therapies.

GPA: Minimum Master's GPA of 3.5 or international equivalent.

Research Education and Training :

  • Documented graduate level research courses with a minimum grade of "B."
  • Documentation of having conducted or collaborated on a research project.

Clinical Experience and Credentials:

  • At least 2 years of full-time equivalent of creative arts therapies clinical practice preferred.
  • Professional credentialing in discipline required. Please submit a copy of your current professional credentials/certification directly to the admissions coordinator at [email protected] .

Transcripts : Official transcripts from all institutions attended for Master's and Bachelor's degree studies must be sent directly from the institutions to Drexel's Enrollment Management department by postal mail at: Drexel University, Application Processing, PO Box 34789. Philadelphia, PA 19101 or electronically to [email protected] .

Letters of Recommendation: Three letters of recommendation are required as a part of the application process. The letters should be from individuals who can address the applicant's aptitudes for research and scholarship. Recommendation letters should also address the applicant's maturity, initiative and commitment to higher level education. Letters of recommendation can be requested and submitted through the online application.

CV/Resume: Should provide a concise overview of relevant professional and education experience. Please upload the resume/CV directly into your online application.

Admissions Essay: The admissions essay is an important part of the application and writing proficiency assessment process. Please upload the essay directly into your online application. The essay consists of two parts:

  • Reasons for Application: Briefly describe 1) your professional background, 2) your reasons for applying to the PhD program and 3) your academic and career goals. Please limit this section to one page, single-spaced.
  • Research Interests:  Please write a brief paper describing 1 or 2 areas of interest for your own research. Please include references to scholarly publications related to your areas of interest. This paper should be written in academic voice, adhere to APA style and be no more than two pages, single-spaced.

Interview : Following the initial screening of the application materials, qualified applicants may be invited for an interview with the PhD in Creative Arts Therapies faculty. Interviews are scheduled in-person at our University City Philadelphia campus or remotely via Zoom.

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Florida State University | College of Fine Arts

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About the Program

The Florida State University Graduate Art Therapy program offers degrees in Master of Science in Art Therapy as well as the Doctor of Philosophy in Art Education, specializing in Art Therapy. The Masters-level program emphasizes a thorough theoretical foundation of art therapy techniques and applications as well as three full practicum experiences working within community and clinical settings. The program integrates research-informed practices to foster culturally sensitive graduates who understand and apply the power of the visual arts and therapeutic relationships to promote personal and community wellness. The power of art for social justice and societal change is not only infused in our philosophy but is the overarching theme that pervades our curriculum and coursework. The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health and Education Programs (CAAHEP) awarded accreditation to the Art Therapy program in 2019.

Art Education Students

Your journey begins with an application.

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Master of Science in Art Therapy

The FSU Art Therapy Program provides graduates with a Master’s of Science Degree in Art Therapy and prepares competent entry level art therapists in the cognitive (knowledge), psychomotor (skills) and affective (behavior learning domains). FSU’s innovative art therapy program integrates diverse theories and research-informed practices to foster culturally sensitive graduates who understand and apply the power of the visual arts and therapeutic relationships to promote personal and community wellness.

See Program Employment Outcomes

PhD or EdD in Art Education with a Major in Art Therapy Research and Practice

The purpose of the PhD or EdD in Art Education with a Major in Art Therapy Research and Practice is to encourage students to make significant contributions to the body of knowledge related to art therapy. Students are supported in their efforts to investigate and advance understanding related innovative applications of art therapy, therapeutic processes and outcomes in art therapy, and other research topics based on individual student interests.

art therapy phd

Art Therapy Program’s CAAHEP Accreditation

The Art Therapy Program at Florida State University is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs ( upon the recommendation of The Accreditation Council for Art Therapy Education (ACATE). CAAHEP awarded initial accreditation to the Art Therapy program in January of 2019. Minimal Expectations for the Florida State University Art Therapy Program: The goal of the FSU Art Therapy Program is to prepare competent entry level Art Therapists in the cognitive (knowledge), psychomotor (skills), and affective (behavior learning domains). Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs 25400 US Highway 19 N., Suite 158 | Clearwater, FL 33763 | P:727-210-2350

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Doctor of Philosophy in Art Therapy (PhD)

Dominican University of California offers an intimate on-campus learning environment to train Art Therapists as researchers, educators, practitioners, and leaders in their field. 

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As one of only two PhD Art Therapy Psychology programs in the country, Dominican's PhD Art Therapy program attracts a diverse student body from throughout the United States and overseas. Graduates are contributing to the local, national, and international development and recognition of the profession, and are leaders in advancing the theoretical, research, and clinical foundations of Art Therapy. 

Ideal Art Therapy PhD students are interested in being stewards in the field of art therapy. Candidates are interested in generating new knowledge in the field, as well as developing a deeper knowledge of the integration of science and art. Art Therapy PhD students may be interested in research, teaching in art therapy programs, and supervising or mentoring future art therapists. They are practitioners in the field of art therapy or one from the allied fields who have previous training in art therapy, psychology, and art and advanced degrees in fields that include psychology, counseling, social work, and art. 

The Art Therapy Psychology program at Dominican has been granted WSCUC approval by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

PhD Art Therapy   Program Highlights

  • Close relationship with professional organizations such as the American Art Therapy Association (AATA), California Association of Marriage and Family Therapy (CAMFT), and the Art Therapy Credentials Board (ATCB)
  • Continuing Education Unit (CEU) Training
  • Advisory Council of Agency Supervisors
  • A vibrant network of Dominican Art Therapy alumni
  • Training for clinicians, researchers, and leaders in the field
  • Small classes and individual faculty advising

Attend an Information Session   Apply Now

Admission, Tuition and Financial Aid

Students may apply to enter the PhD in Art Therapy for the fall semester, every other year and should meet the following requirements:

  • Master's degree or its equivalent from a regionally accredited institution is required to apply to the Art Therapy PhD program.
  • Students need to have met all or most all of the academic requirements to become an ATR.
  • Completion of 18 semester units in studio art (including drawing, painting & clay) and 12 units in psychology (general psychology, abnormal psychology, lifespan development, and personality psychology).
  • Completed application for admission
  • Two letters of recommendation, professional or academic.
  • Official transcripts from all colleges and universities attended, with one transcript showing a master's degree from a regionally accredited institution in the U.S., or equivalent academic preparation outside of the U.S. Find complete instructions on how to submit your transcripts to Dominican  here.
  • Portfolio of original artwork to demonstrate competence with a range of art materials; 10-12 JPEG images are preferred.
  • An autobiographical statement, generally, three to four pages.
  • Application to apply courses to Dominican’s prerequisites. 
  • Documented minimum of one year of clinical experience in the field (two or more preferred)
  • In-person or preliminary online interview
  • Published article or scholarly academic writing (the scholarly writing can include a masters thesis)
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Request Information

The PhD in Art Therapy is a full-time program, with cohorts beginning every other fall. We encourage you to apply as soon as possible.

If an application deadline falls on a weekend and/or holiday, applications will be accepted through the end of the next business day.

Application Deadlines: June 1, 2021 (2023, 2025, 2027 etc.)

Learn more about tuition per unit, additional fees, and total tuition.

We'll also show you how a Dominican education is more affordable than you might think with support from scholarships and loans. 


Program Format and Career Paths

The PhD in Art Therapy program is designed as a three-year program with 52 required units. Students are admitted in the fall semester only, every other year. The program curriculum is designed to meet PhD expectations with an emphasis on research integrated with practice.

Classes are taught in-person on Dominican's beautiful 80-acre campus, located just 12 miles north of San Francisco in Marin County. 

Graduates of the PhD Art Therapy program bring art therapy into a wide variety of settings which include schools, mental health organizations, inpatient and outpatient programs, hospitals, community centers, nursing homes, assisted living centers, prisons, private practice, and more.

Dominican graduates are also able to take advantage of training and internship opportunities in the vibrant Bay Area, well known for both the arts, as well as its complex healthcare systems. 

Graduates are prepared to teach in art therapy programs and supervise or mentor future art therapists. The PhD program provides training for clinicians, researchers, and leaders in the field.

Degrees Offered


School of Liberal Arts and Education

Art Therapy Psychology

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Liberal Arts and Education: In The News

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Richard Carolan, ATR-BC, EdD

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American Art Therapy Association


Art therapists are clinicians with master’s-level or higher degrees trained in art and therapy that serve communities in different settings. guided by ethical standards and scope of practice, their education and supervised training prepares them for culturally proficient work with diverse populations., everyday, art therapists support their clients’ mental, emotional, and physical well-being, including children experiencing behavioral challenges, such as autism spectrum disorder; people and caregivers in medical crises; victims of violence or other trauma—from military servicemembers to student survivors of mass shootings; older adults struggling with dementia or alzheimer’s disease; or anyone that needs help coping with life’s challenges..

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When art therapy clients make pictures that represent their identity, circumstances or dreams, they can – with the help of their therapist – gain clarity about their wants or needs and decide what they should do next.

The most deeply felt heartbreaks are sometimes the hardest to talk about. Traumatized people who have difficulty explaining their feelings in words often work with an art therapist, who can help them express and process their emotions in a visual way.

Art therapy is a clinical profession. Art therapists are mental health care providers with master's degrees who use artwork and art analysis to discover the root causes of a client's distress and to address psychological wounds.

Here are some key facts to know if you're interested in becoming an art therapist.

What Art Therapy Is and Who It Helps

Art therapy is not simply the process of engaging in a pleasurable creative endeavor and entering a state of "flow," says Meera Rastogi, professor of psychology and art therapy at the University of Cincinnati's College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning . Although art-making by oneself for the sake of fun or self-discovery may feel soothing, it isn't art therapy, explains Rastogi, who has a Ph.D. in counseling psychology and a master's in art therapy.

To count as therapy, an introspective artistic activity must be guided by a trained art therapist who provides guidance along the soul-searching journey, she says. "They have a knowledge base, skills and training to work with the materials and the image in a way that goes much deeper than you would do on your own... So there's lots of great work by artists working in hospitals, by volunteers working and doing art programs, and that is not art therapy."

Images created before or during an art therapy session provide a starting point for scientifically informed conversations about subconscious thoughts, mindless behaviors and other subtle influences on a client's life that he or she may not otherwise recognize.

Art therapists show clients how to cope with sadness and find hope in spite of adversity, and they assist people from all walks of life. "An art therapist can help many different clients, from 3 year olds to seniors, with or without mental disorders," Youhjung Son, a registered and board-certified art therapist in Maryland, wrote in an email.

People who are interested in helping others, fascinated by the human psyche and like the idea of "using creative expression as a way to heal" should consider a career in art therapy, she says. "An art therapist would need to be compassionate, understanding, patient, positive-minded, and confident in themselves as well."

Getting an Art Therapy Degree and Board Certification

Earning status as a board-certified art therapist through the Art Therapy Credentials Board, Inc. is a rigorous multistep process.

These are the key steps aspiring art therapists must take to obtain needed credentials:

  • Earn a master's degree in art therapy or a master's in a related field, in which case extra education would be necessary. Supplemental coursework would also be needed with an art therapy degree from a program that is not approved by the American Art Therapy Association or accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs. A list of approved and accredited programs is available online .
  • Complete 24 credits of art therapy classes and spend at least 700 hours in a supervised art therapy internship.
  • Take 18 credits of studio art courses at the undergraduate or graduate level.

Art therapy master's programs usually last at least two years and may take as long as three-and-a-half years to complete. They combine art-focused classes and psychology courses.

After receiving a master's, a future art therapist can seek provisional credentials and start working under the supervision of an experienced therapist, who can serve as a mentor. The goal is to gain sufficient clinical experience — at least 1,000 hours — to qualify as a registered art therapist, though the amount of experience needed varies depending on a person's academic credentials. A handbook with detailed instructions on becoming registered is available from the credentials board.

A formally registered art therapist may work independently and can become board-certified by passing a national exam. Though board certification is not mandatory, experts say it increases an art therapist's credibility and marketability .

Art Therapy Jobs, Salary Ranges and Employers

The most common salary range for U.S. art therapists in 2021 was $50,000 to $79,999, according to a recent demographic survey of American Art Therapy Association members. Meanwhile, 5.9% earned six-figure salaries, survey data shows.

Roughly 88% of art therapists in the survey reported working 40 hours or fewer a week, and their most common workplaces were independent practices, outpatient mental health clinics, social service and community mental health agencies, and art centers and studios.

What It's Like to Be an Art Therapist

The combination of visual art and talk therapy can encourage patients who are especially nervous, guarded or reluctant to relax and share information with their therapists, Rastogi says. Honesty and transparency are beneficial because understanding between a patient and therapist aids psychological healing and increases the likelihood of emotional breakthroughs for patients.

"They become more open to other ideas and possibilities," she says.

While the intensity of verbal therapy can overwhelm some patients, that problem can be overcome by integrating art into therapy, Rastogi says. "The work is powerful and amazing. It is much quicker therapeutically than I have observed with verbal therapy."

Aspiring mental health caregivers who appreciate art can integrate that interest into their practice if they become an art therapist, Rastogi adds.

"Even though the work is hard, people enjoy it more than in traditional therapy, and I think part of it is you get this physical representation of the work that you've done, whereas in verbal therapy – okay, I feel better – but as soon as I leave the therapist's office, I may or may not be able to maintain that feeling," she says.

The physical object produced in art therapy can comfort patients, Rastogi says, serving as a tangible reminder of their progress.

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Clinical mental health counseling: art therapy.

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Help others explore the therapeutic power of art making.

Drawing from your experience as a visual artist, discover art making’s potential to help others gain self-awareness and understanding. Through our art therapy program, study to promote healing through drawing, painting, sculpting, and other media. Train alongside world-recognized faculty in a national hub for mental health practice and research, and spend 1,150 hours in the field fostering well-being in individuals, families, and communities.

At Lesley University, you’ll continue to explore your identity as an artist while developing as an art therapist. You will build the foundational skills and experiences needed to become a licensed mental health counselor. Working within our cross-disciplinary community, build your expertise in the therapeutic applications for art making, while finding opportunities to collaborate with students working in diverse artistic disciplines, from drama to music to writing.

As you train for a career in mental health counseling and art therapy, build an understanding of the science that underlies human behavior. Learn how to address the changing needs of human beings across the lifespan. Research the artistic, physical, cognitive, neurological, and social development of individuals. Infuse this science with creativity and compassion to help others come to a place of wholeness and wellness.

Gain the skills and experiences needed to practice in a range of clinical settings. Master assessment strategies and develop treatment plans for different populations, development levels, and cultures. Tap into our vast network of field training sites throughout Greater Boston and across the U.S.

Graduate prepared for an impactful career in mental health clinics, psychiatric clinics, hospitals, schools, and beyond.

Program Structure

3-Year Program, Full-Time; On-Campus or Low-Residency Formats

  • To enroll in this program, you’ll need to show proof of your: Bachelor’s degree GPA of 3.0 or better Life experience and/or volunteer work related to human services. Completed coursework in: -Psychology (12 credits, including abnormal psychology and developmental psychology, with grades of B or better) -Studio Art (18 credits, with grades of B or better) Not all coursework must be complete before you apply. Contact Graduate Admissions for details.
  • Required art therapy courses in art therapy theory, group work, art therapy studio, and assessment.
  • Required core courses in expressive therapies theory, research, and practice, human development, and ethics
  • Elective courses including one art therapy-related course and one interdisciplinary course
  • Field experience including clinical skills and applications coursework and supervised internship experiences
  • On Campus Full-time, 3-Year Program Take 3-12 credits/semester for 8 semesters, including summers. Low-Residency Take 6-9 credits/semester for 9 semesters, including summers. Complete in 3 years.

Lesley’s Art Therapy Specialization endeavors to prepare competent entry-level Art Therapists in the cognitive (knowledge), psychomotor (skills), and affective (behavior) learning domains.  Specifically, the program aims to prepare its students to become skilled, knowledgeable, compassionate art therapy professionals who are able to work in a diverse world.  Students are trained to use the art media and the creative process to treat emotional and physical illness, and to help people achieve a greater sense of integration, wholeness, and wellness. Towards this end, they maintain their identities as artists, develop fundamental skills as mental health counselors, and integrate these realms into their work as art therapists.   In addition to their proficiency with the visual arts, students also gain familiarity and comfort with other creative arts modalities. The power of art, dance, drama, expressive arts and music give voice to personal meaning from a cultural and critical pedagogical context. The interdisciplinary nature of the arts meets the needs of a wide range of clinical populations in preparing our students for professional growth, lifelong learning and leadership in their communities. Another aim of students’ training is mentoring them to become leaders who can influence both constructive change in society and their profession.  

Program Goals and Learning Statement

Learn more about the expected program goals that our Expressive Therapies master's degree programs meet.

The goal of the Expressive Therapies master’s degree programs is to provide students the knowledge, skills, and experience needed to practice in a range of professional settings, including health care facilities, schools, community agencies, and private practices. The Expressive Therapies 60-credit programs meet the academic and field training requirements for mental health counselor licensure (LMHC) in Massachusetts. (Students intending to work outside of Massachusetts are advised to review their state's regulations to determine their eligibility for licensure.) Specialization tracks prepare graduates for certification or registration by their respective professional associations.  

The Expressive Therapies faculty established these program goals. Aligned with the mission of Lesley and the Graduate School of Arts & Social Sciences, they are also specific to the Graduate Expressive Therapies Department, with deep consideration of our program’s history and the contemporary landscape of expressive therapies and mental health counseling.

1. Dual Identity as a Clinical Mental Health Counselor and Expressive Therapist  

Students will demonstrate a dual identity as a clinical mental health counselor and expressive therapist, and an understanding of the ways in which the professions enhance and complement one another. 

2. Professional Orientation and Ethics  

Students will demonstrate an understanding of the counseling profession and their modality profession. Students will demonstrate the capacity to provide counseling services within the ethical codes of the counseling profession and their modality specializations, and with an understanding of legal issues. 

3. Clinical Mental Health Counseling Theory  

Students will gain substantial knowledge of core counseling theories as applied to individual and group processes, skills, and approaches. 

4. Human Development Across the Lifespan  

Students will assess and cultivate an understanding of human growth and development throughout the lifespan, including an understanding of arts-based development, and the connection between developmental theory, clinical issues. Students will be able to design interventions, as well as apply considerations of environmental, biological, and cultural factors. 

5. Clinical Skills and Helping Relationships  

Students will demonstrate counseling skills and techniques which exhibit awareness of self and other in the therapeutic relationship. Students will demonstrate the ability to document and evaluate progress towards treatment goals.  

6. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion  

Students will develop a critical multicultural lens of the sociocultural foundations in the counseling and expressive therapy process, including developing an awareness and knowledge of power, privilege, and oppression at the micro, macro, personal, and interpersonal levels. Students will develop strategies to identify and eliminate cultural barriers, prejudice, and discriminatory practices.  

7. Career Development  

Students will demonstrate knowledge of vocational counseling theory and apply career development methods to individual professional development. 

8. Group Process in Counseling and Expressive Therapies  

Students will develop a theoretical and embodied understanding of group process and dynamics, theory, skill, and approaches. 

9. Assessment  

Students will gain knowledge and skills in understanding and utilizing formal assessment instruments and information gathering techniques, used in case conceptualization, treatment planning. Students will also be able to analyze and critique assessment tools regarding ethical usage and multicultural competency.  

10. Research and Program Evaluation  

Students will develop the ability to locate, read, critique, and evaluate research to inform clinical practice. Through this activity, students will contribute knowledge to the profession of counseling and their modality specializations. 

11. Psycho-diagnostics and Treatment  

Students will gain an understanding of the broad spectrum of psychopathology and diagnostic criteria utilized in the current DSM 5 and ICD 10 to inform ethical clinical practice and evaluation within a diverse context. 

12. Trauma and Crisis Intervention  

 Students will demonstrate trauma-informed skills within clinical practice, including knowledge of crisis intervention, and risk and suicide assessment. Students will understand current research and application in how the arts are used in trauma-informed practice, including individual, community, cultural, and systemic complex trauma across the lifespan. 

13. Embodied, Experiential and Creative Clinical Practices  

Students will be able to articulate, embody, and apply the transformative nature of creativity and the arts intrapersonally, interpersonally, and clinically, demonstrating the integration of knowledge and skills within practice.   

14. Mental Health and Community Systems  

Students will demonstrate knowledge and apply skills associated with working in diverse communities and multi-disciplinary teams. Students will critically analyze methods of treatment, referral, and interdisciplinary collaboration from a global health perspective.  

15. Personal Growth, Insight, and Congruence  

Students will develop and engage in multifaceted processes which foster self-awareness, and awareness of others’ experiences with cultural sensitivity. Students will develop and begin to articulate and evidence, in their scholarship and clinical practices, their theoretical orientation.   

Students take courses in a scheduled sequence, where learning takes place in increments that align with their emerging competencies as clinicians. Following the program's course sequence ensures that students build upon knowledge and skills in a manner that maximizes their learning efforts, and that is appropriate and supportive, as they begin to practice in the field. 

Lesley's Master of Arts Program in Clinical Mental Health Counseling: Art Therapy is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs ( upon the recommendation of the Accreditation Council for Art Therapy Education (ACATE). The program meets the current educational requirements to apply for licensure in clinical mental health counseling in Massachusetts, and also meets the current educational requirements to apply for the Registered Art Therapist (ATR) credential with the Art Therapy Credentials Board.

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Student Retention and Positive Placement for Art Therapy Graduates

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On-Campus Option

Become part of a community of artists and scholars in Cambridge while pursuing your degree. Gain in-person access to leaders in the field and benefit from Lesley’s professional network in and around Greater Boston and New England. Taking three to four courses per semester, immerse in rigorous study and complete your program within a three year sequence.

Best if you:

  • Live near Cambridge or are able to relocate
  • Enjoy the rigor of an intensive program and want to take advantage of internships in Greater Boston
  • Want face-to-face time with faculty and peers and to become integrated into campus life
  • Are not planning to work full-time during your studies

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Low-Residency Option

Participate in one 3-week summer residency per year on Lesley University’s Cambridge campus. Between residencies, continue your studies online with Lesley faculty and through supervised field experiences in your community. Your courses correspond with those of our on-campus program, and will be completed within three years.

  • Live at a distance
  • Enjoy the flexibility of online learning
  • Want to take fewer courses at a time
  • Would like to complete internships/research in your community

Lesley is not currently enrolling low-residency students who reside in Arkansas, Florida, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, or Wisconsin. 

  • Inpatient Psychiatric Hospitals
  • Outpatient Clinics
  • Public Schools
  • Therapeutic Schools
  • Substance Abuse Clinics
  • AIDS Treatment Centers
  • Domestic Violence Shelters
  • Homeless Shelters
  • Nursing Homes
  • Senior Centers
  • Residential Homes

Depending on your professional goals, where you reside or plan to practice, and the licensure requirements within that state, there are different pathways toward licensure or credentialing that may be relevant. In accordance with Lesley University’s institutional participation in SARA (State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement) and with federal regulations, we strongly encourage prospective applicants who intend to pursue licensure in a state other than Massachusetts to visit the Lesley University Licensure and Credentialing webpage and review the “Licensure Information for Students and Applicants” document for their specific program.

Colleen Shannon stands in a room at the Children's Place.

Colleen Shannon ’04

Athletics community members holding up a Lynx Nation sign

Remote Learning at Lesley University

Hours you’ll spend turning theory into practice through field training and internships.

Close-up of the architectural pillars on Lesley's campus.

Graduate Student Scholarships

Student talking in psychology class

Online Psychology Boot Camp

elderly hands with pastels

How Creative Expression Can Benefit Older Adults

Simona Granfone teaching the elderly

Simona Granfone ’15

Of our 2019 graduating class is employed or furthering their education., art therapy professional certifications, needham mural brings together art therapy alumnae, community, where our graduates work.

Samantha Sundermeyer '14 with a sheep at Cultivate Care Farm

Samantha Sundermeyer ’14

Art Therapy graduate Samantha Sundermeyer explores a new path to healing at Cultivate Care Farm, a seven-acre therapeutic farm designed to treat children, teens and adults struggling with an array of emotional, developmental, and psychological challenges.

Souhad Chbeir working in her studio

Souhad Chbeir ’18

As a native of Lebanon, it was seeing the plight of Syrian refugees that drove Souhad to explore the social implications for the expressive arts. Now she’s seeking to transform her art therapy degree into a career empowering children who have experienced the trauma of war. “My first residency experience was nurturing, friendly, and inspiring. The energy of the group set me free. I have never felt this way in my career," says Souhad.

Have questions about the expressive therapies master's program? View our frequently asked questions to find your answer.

When does the program start?  

The master’s program in expressive therapies only has one start term per year, which is summer. On-campus students have an online orientation course in July, with on-campus courses beginning in the fall. Low-residency students have an online orientation course in July followed by a 2-3 week on-campus residency, with online courses in the fall and spring. 

Do you offer the program online?  

Through the low-residency format, students attend an in-person summer residency each July on Lesley’s campus. In the fall and spring semesters, students continue their studies online with a mix of asynchronous and synchronous coursework. Field work is completed in their home community. The completion time for this model is 3 years (20 credits each year with 2-3 courses per semester). Internships take place in years 2 and 3, alongside coursework in the fall and spring semesters.  

Are the online courses in the low-residency program asynchronous or synchronous?  

Students in the low-residency program attend the on-campus residency each July. During the fall and spring semesters, students take their coursework online with a mix of asynchronous and synchronous learning.  

How do students in the low-residency programs stay connected as a learning community?  

During the 3-year program, students in the low-residency model come to campus each July for their residency. During this time, students and faculty make very strong connections that are fostered throughout the program. When learning online, students participate in both synchronous and asynchronous learning. Lesley’s Online Learning Platform also offers interactive tools that can be used for courses beyond just posting comments to a discussion board. You can use a collaborative tool to work on group projects, work with your class to find a time that works for everyone to video in to connect, instant message with faculty or peers, upload PowerPoint presentations and record yourself over the presentation as if you were giving it in person and faculty and peers can provide feedback. Faculty make the online work as engaging as possible and the in-person residency period is very hands-on and experiential! Students stay connected through email, phone, Zoom and social media as well! 

How is the on-campus model formatted?  

Our on-campus model has courses during the daytime, on weekdays, or in an intensive format as well (either a weekend-intensive course or a five-day intensive course). The completion time for this model is 3 years (20 credits each year with 3 courses per semester). Internships take place in years 2 and 3 alongside coursework in the fall and spring semesters. 

Can I continue to work full-time while in the program?  

We don’t typically recommend that students work full time while in the program. Our on-campus courses take place during the daytime as well as nights and weekends, and daytime courses cannot be avoided.  Please keep in mind that there are synchronous components to the low-residency model’s online coursework. Your place of employment would need to be flexible should you be required to attend your synchronous online course during regular business hours. 

In the low residency model, it may be possible to work full-time for the first year of the program, as long as you can take the required weeks off in July for residency. If you can find an internship site in your second year of the program that has nights and weekend hours, you may be able to complete the 15 hours/week that are needed and still work full time and come for residency in July.  The third year of the program, however, requires about 25 hours/week at your site, making it impossible to work full time, complete your coursework, and fulfill those hours.    

How do I submit my portfolio?  

Portfolios should be submitted on Slideroom. Learn more about the portfolio requirements and how to set up an account with Slideroom .

If my GPA does not meet the preferred requirement of a 3.0 or higher, can I still apply?  

The program prefers that applicants have a GPA of a 3.0 or higher, however applicants with a lower GPA may still be reviewed. If you have a lower GPA and are concerned about it impacting your admissions decision, we recommend addressing this in your Written Personal Statement. You can address anything that may have affected your grades, or you can address why you believe you are prepared at this time to be successful in a graduate program. 

How do I select a writing sample?  

The Academic Writing Sample can be a previously written research-based paper from a college-level course. It should show your ability to think critically, synthesize information, and write at the academic level. Your submission can be on any topic and must be between 3 and 5 pages in length (double-spaced). If you have written a longer paper, you can submit an excerpt of 3-5 chronological pages (it is okay if the submission is out of context). If you do not have a paper from your previous studies, or if you graduated from college several years ago, you may choose to write a 3-5 page paper on a topic of interest. Please choose your best writing to submit for review.  

If admitted into the program, can I defer?  

If unexpected circumstances are preventing you from starting your Lesley graduate program in the term you were admitted, you may request to defer your enrollment for up to 1 year. You will be required to submit an enrollment deposit and deferral request form to hold your spot.  Learn more about the deferral process .

I am interested in more than one art modality. Can I apply to multiple programs?   

Although you can’t apply to more than one specialization, a unique aspect of our program is that you still get exposure to each of the art forms. Meaning, if you chose to pursue Drama Therapy, some of your core courses would still train you in the other expressive therapies in a therapeutic setting. This helps you down the road when you may be working with a client who may not respond to one specific modality. Theory and practice are interwoven into this program’s curriculum.  

Which prerequisites do I need in order to apply?

Art Therapy Program

Completed coursework in: Psychology (12 credits, including abnormal psychology and developmental psychology, with grades of B or better). Studio Art (18 credits, with grades of B or better). Not all coursework must be complete before you apply. Contact Graduate Admissions for details.

Dance Therapy Program

6 credits of completed coursework in psychology with grades of B or better and Anatomy and Kinesiology with a grade of B or higher. Not all coursework must be complete before you apply. Contact Graduate Admissions for details.

Drama Therapy Program

6 credits of completed coursework in psychology with grades of B or better. Not all coursework must be complete before you apply. Contact Graduate Admissions for details.

Expressive Arts Therapy Program

3 credits of completed coursework in abnormal psychology and 3 credits of completed coursework in developmental psychology with grades of B or better. Not all coursework must be complete before you apply. Contact Graduate Admissions for details.

Music Therapy Program

6 credits of completed coursework in psychology with grades of B or better.

Principles and Practices of Music Therapy (3 credits) or a music therapy course that includes the history and survey of the profession, its theoretical approaches, and its application to various populations. Not all coursework must be complete before you apply. Contact Graduate Admissions for details.

How can I gain experience in the field of human services and learn more about Expressive Therapies?  

Prospective students can gain human service experience by pursuing community resources through volunteering and observation. This will greatly strengthen an application when ultimately applying to the program. Below are some resources for prospective students to explore:  

Students may also learn about what types of work Expressive Therapists are doing in the field by exploring the resources below:    Art Therapy: American Art Therapy Association (AATA)     Expressive Arts Therapy: International Expressive Arts Therapy (IEATA)     Dance/Movement Therapy: American Dance Therapy Association (ADTA)     Drama Therapy: North American Drama Therapy Association (NADTA)     Music Therapy: American Music Therapy: American Music Therapy Association (AMTA)    

Voices – An online journal that looks at social justice through the use of Music Therapy.  

Jessica Kingsley Publishers – A publishing company that houses reading material for all creative arts therapies. 

Barcelona Publishers – A publishing company “dedicated entirely to the field of music therapy” with the goal of expanding and moving the field forward.  

How can I schedule an appointment to learn more? 

Please click on the links below to schedule a time to meet with admissions or visit our campus.

Schedule an Appointment with a Graduate Admissions Counselor

Attend an Information Session or Campus Tour

  • Mental Health Therapist
  • Activity Therapist
  • Creative Therapist
  • Art Therapist
  • Recreation Therapist
  • Mental Health Specialist
  • Mental Health Clinics
  • Psychiatric Clinics
  • Assisted Living Facilities
  • Correctional Facilities

Kelvin Ramirez

Kelvin Ramirez

Associate Professor/Coordinator of Art Therapy

Dr. Kelvin Ramirez is a Board Certified Registered Art Therapist (ATR-BC) and core faculty member of the Department of Graduate Expressive Therapies . Kelvin is a Board Member of FNE International, a 501(c)3 organization that partners with communities in developing nations to identify opportunities to advance housing, health and education. With that international experience, Kelvin continues to collaborate and develops programs with educators, clinicians, and community leaders in Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic and India. He has developed academic curriculum that build and reinforce initiatives in Nicaragua, The Dominican Republic, Haiti and India.

Prior to joining Lesley, Kelvin was the vice principal of a high school in the South Bronx where he developed and incorporated art therapy within educational systems to enhance student’s personal and academic growth. During his 9-year tenure as vice principal, art therapy was infused throughout the academic and therapeutic approaches of the school, increasing retention and shifting behavioral approaches to enhance students' socio-emotional development.

Kelvin has taught for the Counseling Division at the College of New Rochelle and the Clinical Art Therapy Program at Long Island University C.W. Post.

His current areas of interest and research include:

  • The development of international art therapy initiatives that conform to the specific needs of communities
  • Contemporary social justice issues
  • How art therapy addresses or ignores systemic oppression
  • The underrepresentation of people of color within the field of art therapy and the implications of this on theory and practice
  • The connections between horticultural therapy and art therapy to transform communities

Teaching is important to Kelvin, because it is through this act of service that people are prepared to direct their destinies and author their own stories. It is a profession that entrusts educators with the malleable minds of the future. Kelvin holds fast to the unwavering ideals that brought him to education, including that social injustices can only be remedied by an educated populous, that an educated mind is a mind called into action for the betterment of all human kind, and that through educating our future generations, our positive influence on the world will continue long after we expire.

faculty raquel stephenson

Raquel Stephenson

Professor, Art Therapy

Dr. Raquel Stephenson  is a board-certified, registered art therapist (ATR-BC) and a licensed creative arts therapist (LCAT). She joined Lesley in 2013 as a core faculty member of the Department of Graduate Expressive Therapies, in the Art Therapy Program.    Prior to joining Lesley, Raquel was a 2010/2011 Fulbright Scholar to Estonia, where she taught in the Department of Applied Creativity at Tallinn University and continues to teach as a visiting guest lecturer. Raquel was on the faculty of the graduate art therapy programs New York University and the School of Visual Arts, and frequently is a visiting instructor at other institutions worldwide.      Committed to improving the lives of older adults through the arts, Dr. Stephenson’s work has focused on a wide spectrum of older populations. She was co-founder and teaching artist for the Teaching Artist, Creative Approaches to Healthy Aging program, funded by two National Endowment for the Arts ArtWorks Grants, and founder, clinical supervisor, and program director of New York University’s Creative Aging Therapeutic Services. Raquel consults with emerging clinical art therapy programs worldwide and designed and implemented the first creative arts therapy program for older adults with dementia in Estonia.  

Raquel serves on the National Advisory Council and Program Advisory Committee of Arts for the Aging in Rockville, MD, and the Advisory Council of the Art Therapy Project in New York City. She also serves on the editorial board of the International Journal of Creativity and Human Development.  

She is a Faculty Fellow of the  Institute for Arts and Health  here at Lesley University, and a member of the UNESCO-UNITWIN Chair on Life Design, Decent Work, and Sustainable Development. 

Raquel loves to be outdoors in any way possible, especially sailing, skiing, whitewater kayaking, hiking, and spending time with her family. While she loves New England, Raquel is an enthusiastic explorer and thrives on a journey anywhere. 

A photo of Expressive Therapies Professor Karen Frostig in an art studio.

Karen Frostig

Professor, Expressive Therapies, College of Art and Design

Dr. Karen Frostig is a Professor of Art who teaches in Lesley's Graduate School of Arts and Social Sciences, the College of Art and Design, and in the arts programs in the Graduate School of Education. She is a public memory artist, a writer, a cultural historian, community organizer. She is the Founding Director of the Locker of Memory memorial project to the victims of the Jungfernhof concentration camp (2019-) currently under development and located in Riga, Latvia.

She was the Founding Director of The Vienna Project (2013-2014), a temporary memorial situated in 16 districts in Vienna. She was a Resident Scholar at Brandeis University’s Women’s Studies Research Center (2010-2021) and is now an affiliated scholar at the center. She holds dual citizenship in the United States and in the Republic of Austria.

In 2017, Karen received the Massachusetts College of Art and Design's Distinguished Alumni Award. That same year she was awarded the International Caucus Honor Roll Awardee for Art and Activism, presented by the UN Program of Women's Caucus for Art.

Karen exhibits her work extensively in the United States, Europe, and the Middle East. She is a frequent speaker and keynote speaker at international conferences. Karen has received multiple awards and grants from organizations such as the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), National Fund of the Republic of Austria, ZukunftsFonds, the Massachusetts Cultural Council, and many more.

She has also published numerous books chapters and articles in professional journals on topics dealing with art activism, memory, testimony, interactive methodologies, visual culture, and public education.

  • Low-Residency
  • Tuition $1,190/credit x 60 $71,400
  • Fees Field Experience Fees $2,180 Materials Fees $350 Registration Fees $320 MAP Tevera Fee $195 Activity Fees $180 Practicum Fees $140 Degree Completion Fee $75

All graduate students are reviewed for merit scholarships through the admissions process and are awarded at the time of acceptance. Other forms of financial aid are also available. Review all graduate tuition and fees , and what they cover. Tuition and fees are subject to change each year, effective June 1.

  • Fees Field Experience Fees $2,180 Registration Fees $360 Materials Fees $350 Mental Health Field Placement and Licensure Software Subscription $195 Practicum Fees $140 Degree Completion Fee $75

Ready to get started? We're here to make the application process as smooth as possible. Just answer a few quick questions, and get your customized application guide.

Next steps to apply

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About the Program

What is transpersonal art therapy.

Written by Michael A. Franklin, PhD, ATR-BC

Transpersonal psychology is viewed within the graduate art therapy program as an evolving, researched discipline that integrates established models of psychology with valuable subjects from spiritual disciplines and wisdom traditions. This transdisciplinary assimilation, which strives to prevent cultural appropriation, results in a comprehensive model of psychology.

Transpersonal Art Therapy draws on this wide ranging premise through its core value to embrace the imaginal elements of the creative process as a rich healing opportunity. Any artistic act is a sample of multiple behaviors (cognitive, affective, kinesthetic, contemplative and spiritual), leading to the awareness that to form materials and processes is to transform oneself through art—we can literally create our way out of and through our suffering. The living image that results from the art process is the true teacher of this path. An art therapist working within the transpersonal approach strives to remain open to differences and to work for change at personal, cultural, institutional, and spiritual levels of transformation. Overall, this work is offered with empathic intentions, compassion for self and other, and the desire to transformatively serve communities and larger social systems.


The Transpersonal Art Therapy program supports Naropa’s mission by training students to become master’s-level graduates of Clinical Mental Health Counseling, licensed professional counselors, and art therapists.

Transpersonal psychology recognizes and integrates the insights, attitudes and practices of world wisdom traditions with modern psychological approaches. This integration provides the context for training students within the program, and it offers a context and a variety of techniques for the practice of professional counseling following the program. The program seeks to provide training that is grounded in rigorous academic work, a blend of critical thinking and contemplation, and skillful application of effective clinical skills, and it seeks to integrate this training with the practice of moment-to-moment awareness and present-centeredness.


The internship is designed to provide students with training and supervision in the practice of psychotherapy through field placements in human service agencies. The Professional Seminar class is taken concurrently with the field placement and is designed to educationally enhance and support the field placement experience.

Field Placement

Below is an incomplete list of some of the agencies (both past and present) which have participated in the field placement program for the Transpersonal Art Therapy concentration:

  • Attention Homes
  • The Blue Bench
  • Care Link Adult Day Program
  • Center for Change
  • The Children’s Hospital Colorado: Ponzio Creative Arts Therapy Program
  • Colorado Recovery
  • Denver Children’s Home
  • The Denver Hospice
  • The Empowerment Program
  • Florence Crittenton School
  • Frasier Meadows
  • GALS Denver—Girls Athletic Leadership School
  • The Mariposa Center
  • MDS Counseling Center
  • Mental Health Partners
  • Mesa Vista of Boulder
  • Mount Saint Vincent Home
  • Naropa University Student Counseling Center
  • Naropa Community Counseling Center
  • Noeticus Counseling Center and Training Institute
  • Pathways Hospice, Community Care for Northern Colorado
  • Play Therapy Institute of Colorado
  • Positive Pathways of Recovery
  • SPAN—Safehouse Progressive Alliance for Nonviolence
  • Specialized Offender Services
  • Spectra Autism Center
  • Streets Hope
  • Whole HeARTS Family Center

Suggested Reading

Art therapy journals.

  • Art Therapy: The Journal of the American Art Therapy Association
  • The Arts in Psychotherapy Journal
  • The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology

General Art Therapy

  • Allen, P.B. (1995).  Art is a way of knowing . Boston: Shambhala.
  • Cane, F. (1983).  The artist in each of us . Caftsbury Common, Vermont: Art Therapy Publications.
  • Chodorow, J. (1997).  Jung on active imagination . Princeton, NJ: Princeton.
  • Cohen, B.M., Barnes, M.M., Rankin, A. (1995).  Managing traumatic stress through art . Lutherville, MD: The Sidran Press.
  • Cozolino, L. (2006).  The neuroscience of human relationships: Attachment and the developing social brain . New York, NY: Norton.
  • Farrelly-Hansen, M. (Ed) (2000).  Spirituality and art therapy: Living the connection . London, UK: Jessica Kingsley Publisher.
  • Gerity, L. A. (2001).  Art as therapy: Collected papers of Edith Kramer . London: Jessica Kingsley.
  • Horovitz-Darby, E. (1994).  Spiritual art therapy: An alternate path . Springfield, IL: Thomas. Langer, S. K. (1953). Feeling and form. New York, NY: Scribner’s.
  • Howie, P., Prasad, S., & Kristel, J. (2013).  Using art therapy with diverse populations: Crossing cultures and abilities.  Philadelphia: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
  • Levine, S. K., & Levine, E. G. (1999).  Foundations of expressive arts therapy: Theoretical and clinical perspectives . London, UK: Kingsley.
  • Kramer, E. (1979).  Childhood and art therapy . New York, NY: Schocken Books.
  • London, P. (1989).  No more secondhand art awakening the artist within . Boston: Shambhala.
  • MacGregor, J.M. (1989).  The discovery of the art of the insane . Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press.
  • Malchiodi, C. (1999).  Understanding childrens drawings . New York and London: The Guilford Press.
  • McNiff, S. (1992).  Art as medicine . Boston: Shambhala.
  • Moon, B. (1997).  Art and soul: Reflections on an artistic psychology . Springfield, IL: Thomas.
  • Moon, B. (1998).  The dynamics of art as therapy with adolescents . Springfield, IL: Charles C. Thomas.
  • Moon, C. (2002).  Studio art therapy: Cultivating the artist identity in the art therapist . London, Jessica Kingsley.
  • Proulx, L. (2003).  Strengthening emotional ties through parent-child-dyad art therapy: Interventions with infants and preschoolers . Philadelphia: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
  • Rappaport, L. (2009).  Focusing oriented art therapy: Accessing the body’s wisdom and creative intelligence . Philadelphia, PA: Kingsley.
  • Rappaport, L. (ed.). (2013).  Mindfulness and the Arts Therapies.  London: Jessica Kingsley.
  • Rhyne, J. (1973).  The gestalt art experience . Monterey, CA: Brooks/Cole.
  • Richards, M.C. (1964).  Centering: In pottery, poetry, and the person . Connecticut: Wesleyan University Press.
  • Rubin, J. A. (2009).  Introduction to art therapy: Sources and resources . New York: Taylor & Frances.
  • Rubin, J. (2005).  Child art therapy: 25th anniversary edition . New Jersey: Wiley.
  • Rubin, J.A. (Ed.). 2001.  Approaches to art therapy: Theory and technique . New York: Brunner/Mazel, Inc.
  • Rubin, J.A. (1984).  The  a rt of art therapy . New York: Brunner/Mazel, Inc.

Art-Based Research

  • Chodorow, J. (1997).  Jung on active imagination . Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
  • McNiff, S. (1998).  Art-based research . Philadelphia, PA: Kingsley.
  • McNiff, S. (ed.) (2013).  Art as research: Opportunities and challenges . Chicago: Intellect, The University of Chicago Press.
  • Rothenberg, A., Hausman, C. R. (1976).  The creativity question . Durham: Duke University Press.
  • Sullivan, G. (2010).  Art practice as research: Inquiry in the visual arts . Los Angeles: Sage.
  • Trungpa, C. (1996).  Dharma art . Boston: Shambhala.

Introduction to Transpersonal Psychology & Psychotherapy

  • Bennett-Goleman, T. (2001).  Emotional Alchemy.  New York: Three Rivers.
  • Boorstein, S. (1996).  Transpersonal Psychotherapy.  New York: State University of New York Press.
  • Cortwright, B. (1997).  Psychotherapy and Spirit: Theory and practice in transpersonal psychotherapy . Albany: State University of New York Press.
  • Epstein, M. (1995).  Thoughts without a Thinker: Psychotherapy from a Buddhist perspective.  New York: BasicBooks.
  • Germer, C., Siegel, R., and Fulton, P. (Eds.). (2005).  Mindfulness and Psychotherapy.  New York: Guilford Press.
  • Nelson, J. (1994).  Healing the Split: Integrating spirit into our understanding of the mentally ill . New York: State University of New York Press.
  • Scotton, B., Chinen, A., and Battista, J.(Eds.). (1996).  Textbook of Transpersonal Psychiatry and Psychology . New York: Basic Books.
  • Walsh, R. (1999).  Essential Spirituality: The 7 central practices to awaken heart and mind.  New York: Wiley & Sons.
  • Walsh, R. and Vaughan, R. (1993).  Paths beyond Ego: The transpersonal vision . San Francisco: Tarcher.
  • Goleman, D. (2003).  Destructive Emotions: A scientific dialogue with the Dalai Lama.  New York: Bantam.
  • Goleman, D. (1995).  Emotional Intelligence: Why it can matter more than IQ.  New York: Bantam.
  • Muller, W. (1992).  Legacy of the Heart: The spiritual advantage of a painful childhood.  New York: Fireside.
  • Naranjo, C. (1993).  Gestalt Therapy: The attitude and practice of an atheoretical experientialism. Nevada City, CA Gateways.
  • Ram Dass and Gordon, P. (1985).  How can I Help?  New York: Knopf.
  • Satir, V. (1972).  Peoplemaking . Palo Alto: Science and Behavior Books.
  • Vaughan, R. (1995).  The Inward Arc: Healing in psychotherapy and spirituality . Nevada City, CA: Blue Dolphin Press.
  • Wegela, K. (1996).  How to be a Help Instead of a Nuisance . Boston: Shambhala
  • Beck, C.J. (1989).  Everyday Zen: Love and work . San Francisco : Harper & Row
  • Boorstein, S. (1996).  Don’t Just do Something, Sit There: A mindfulness retreat.  New York: HarperCollins.
  • Brach, T. (2003).  Radical Acceptance.  New York: Bantam.
  • Chodron, P. (1994).  Start Where You Are: A guide to compassionate living . Boston: Shambhala.
  • Chodron, P. (1991).  The Wisdom of No Escape and the Path of Loving Kindness.  Boston: Shambhala.
  • Chodron, P. (1997).  When Things Fall Apart: Heart advice for difficult times.  Boston: Shambhala.
  • Epstein, M. (1998).  Going to Pieces without Falling Apart.  New York: Broadway.
  • Friedman, L. (1987).  Meetings with Remarkable Women: Buddhist teachers in America.  Boston: Shambhala.
  • Goldstein, J. (1983).  The Experience of Insight . Boston: Shambhala.
  • Goleman, D. (1988).  The Meditative Mind.  New York: Tarcher/Putnam.
  • Kornfield, J. (1993).  A Path with Heart.  New York: Bantam.
  • Salzberg, S. (1995).  Lovingkindness: The revolutionary art of happiness.  Boston: Shambhala.
  • Shapiro, D. and Walsh, R. (Eds.). (1984).  Meditation: Classic and contemporary perspectives.  New York: Aldine.
  • Suzuki, S. (1970).  Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind . New York: Weatherhill.
  • Welwood, J. (1983).  Awakening the Heart.  Boston:Shambhala.
  • Welwood, J. (1990).  Journey of the Heart: Path of conscious love.  New York: HarperCollins.

Contemporary and Historical Transpersonal Perspectives

  • Assagioli, R. (1965).  Psychosynthesis: A manual of principles and techniques . New York: Hobbs, Dorman.
  • Grof, C. and Grof, S. (1990).  The Stormy Search for the Self . San Francisco: Tarcher.
  • Grof, C. and Grof, S., eds. (1989).  Spiritual eEmergency . San Francisco: Tarcher.
  • Grof, S. (1985).  Beyond the Brain . New York: SUNY.
  • Jung, C. (1961).  Memories, Dreams, Reflections . New York: Vintage Books.
  • Singer, J. (1972).  Boundaries of the Soul.  Garden City, NY: Doubleday.
  • Whitmont, E. (1969).  The Symbolic Quest.  Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
  • Washburn, M. (1988).  The Ego and the Dynamic Ground: A transpersonal theory of human development . Albany: State University of New York Press.
  • Wilber, K. (1981).  No Boundary . Boston: Shambhala.
  • Wilber, K. (1996).  A Brief History of Everything.  Boston: Shambhala.
  • Wilber, K. (2000).  Integral Psychology: Consciousness, spirit, psychology, therapy . Boston: Shambhala.

Spiritual Traditions

  • Glazer, S. (1999).  The heart of Learning: Spirituality in education . New York: J.P. Tarcher/Putnam.
  • Hixon, L. (1989).  Coming Home: The experience of enlightenment in sacred traditions.  Los Angeles: Tarcher.
  • Huxley, A. (1970).  The Perennial Philosophy . New York: Harper/Colophon.
  • Muller, W. (1999).  Sabbath: Finding rest, renewal, and delight in our busy lives.  New York: Bantam.
  • Ram Dass. (1978).  Journey of Awakening: A meditator’s guidebook.  New York: Bantam.
  • Ram Dass. (2000).  Still Here.  New York: Riverhead.
  • Smith, H. (1994). The Illustrated World’s Religions: A guide to our wisdom traditions.  San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco.

An Interview with Christie Helm, MA, LPC, LADC, CCD


Spring 2000


Since graduation, I have been working as a counselor, primarily in the substance abuse field. I have worked in a variety of settings ranging from Detox, inpatient, outpatient and intensive outpatient. I have been able to utilize art therapy interventions with both adults and adolescents. Although I have never held the official title of “Art Therapist,” I feel that my additional expertise and training has given me an advantage over other applicants during the interviewing process. Once welcomed into an “art free” agency, I have had the pleasure of familiarizing my co-workers and clients with art therapy and how it can enhance group and individual substance abuse counseling.


Well, I have not been doing much formal artwork recently although I created a beautiful nursery for my daughter who was born last year. A few years ago I did do a series of chalk pastel drawings after being inspired by the work of artist R. John Ichter.


In addition to being a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) in Connecticut, I hold a License as an Alcohol and Drug Counselor (LADC) and am a Certified Co-Occurring Disorders Professional (CCDP). My coursework at Naropa prepared me to sit for the NBCC’s examination and to earn my LPC. Additional training I received at my internship sight put me on the path to earning the additional substance abuse credentials I hold.

On a more personal note, The Warrior Exams and frequent oral presentations were some of the most beneficial aspects of the program for me as they prepared me for interviewing for jobs as well as being more confident as group facilitator. The Art Therapy program at Naropa University often pushed me to the edge of my comfort zone which also prepared me for the real world experiences of my professional life. The mindfulness training also continues to assist me on a daily basis and allows me to work with an emotionally intense population year after year while maintaining empathy rather than becoming callous. I had started an Art Therapy program at another institute on the East Coast prior to coming to Naropa and have never regretted my decision.

An Interview with Julie Mearkle, MA, Naropa University

I graduated in May of 2007.

Since March 2008, I have been working at a day treatment school as a school-based therapist. I work with a wide range of students (mostly boys) between the ages of 6-18, who have been referred to us from their home school for behavioral issues. I meet with students individually and in group settings, utilizing art therapy interventions as time and supplies permit.

While I feel inspired to make art around my experiences at the school, I find that I also need to create space for myself in order to keep doing this intense work. My art has currently been in the service of self-care and mindfulness. Lately I enjoy sketching and experimenting with watercolors while outside, usually on a hike or camping trip. Being in nature has always been deeply revitalizing for me. My art-making helps me to further engage the beauty and serenity around me, thus renewing my own inner resources.

In many ways, I feel as though I am still in school! Each day I learn so much from my students and with each answer I find more questions. The Naropa Art Therapy Program has prepared me by teaching me to be open to these questions, to be curious, and to trust the process, myself, and my training. I also find that my art therapy education gives me a wider avenue with which I can approach students and assist them in exploring, expressing, and healing themselves. My colleagues often comment on how well our students respond to the art process and interventions. Creativity, resourcefulness, is one skill that has been crucial to my work with students. Naropa has not only helped me to appreciate this skill, but to celebrate and cultivate it. I was supported throughout the art therapy program and continue to find support as my journey goes on.

An Interview with Pam Sica, MA, Naropa University

I graduated from the Art Therapy Program in May 2006. Since then I have been working with a Denver based agency on a unique School Based Therapy Team as an art therapist. I have been fortunate to work long term and in depth with many children and their families around issues including learning disabilities, abuse, trauma, domestic violence, substance abuse, homelessness, foster care and custody situations. The Art Therapy program has a strong emphasis on the therapist’s identity as an artist in combination with a meditation practice and strong clinical skill. The program encouraged me to embrace myself as an artist, to explore personally difficult emotions and to use art materials in a safe and respectful way with another human being. Art materials and images illicit various emotional responses for the client and the therapist. The Art Therapy program taught me how to evoke and contain another person’s human experience through the use of art, as well as my own. PAINTING BIO The process of painting for me is at once a refuge and a mirror. Images often arise without a plan but with intent. I paint from my body and emotions become color and shape informing me of my present moment. I get lost in the paint, the texture, the chaos, the formlessness until suddenly something resonates from beyond my consciousness. Color, shape and detail transform into story, memory, wish and wonder.


Making of a mess…with color and the rhythms of my body, breath and emotions. The urgency to throw paint around on canvas and paper. A safe place, a contained ground, shapes, lines and Colors blend like open wounds, dripping, and bleeding. A catastrophe of formlessness and Form, bounce, blend and melt into the background, The foreground. Ooze drip and highlight. “This is Art!” I say. Something, which has never happened before, never existed in this life. Brought to life. Feelings become formed before my eyes. Somewhere, they have never been. Here on this conscious surface in order to be seen, witnessed and integrated into my being, my own understanding of Myself. “This is healing!” I demand. Trust the mess.

  • Students demonstrate knowledge of core counseling curriculum.
  • Students demonstrate proficiency in clinical counseling skills.
  • Students demonstrate professional competence in counseling.
  • Students will demonstrate an ability to utilize subjective investigation with objective research methods.
  • Students will demonstrate applied art therapy and counseling knowledge as it pertains to case conceptualization skills.
  • Students will demonstrate applied knowledge of diversity awareness and social engagement within art therapy and counseling practice.
  • Students will demonstrate the clinical application of a transpersonal approach to art therapy.

Transpersonal Art Therapy

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MPhil/PhD Art Psychotherapy

Course information.

Social, Therapeutic and Community Studies

3-4 years full-time or 4-6 years part-time

Course overview

We offer opportunities for students who want to pursue research in art psychotherapy.

For MPhil and PhD study, you usually register for research by written thesis (although there are also possibilities for research based on a written element and studio practice).

Whatever your topic, you have your first supervisor in Art Psychotherapy and may have your second in another department – Art , Educational Studies , Psychology , or Sociology , for example.

You meet your supervisors regularly for discussion and guidance, and present your work to the Art Psychotherapy research student group.

You also attend the Goldsmiths Research Methods Training Course.

Supervision is currently available in the following areas:

  • art therapists and their art
  • cross-cultural issues
  • evidence-based practices
  • history and development of the professions in the UK and internationally
  • occupational choice, career development and role change of arts therapists and arts therapy trainees
  • clinical work with various client populations

Current research topics include :

  • key issues in art psychotherapy with the blind
  • the creative experience inside and outside an art psychotherapy group
  • the image as an assessment tool with children who have an autistic spectrum disorder
  • thinking about art with adults who have learning disabilities
  • art therapists’ working environments

You'll be assessed by a thesis and viva voce.

Find out more about  research degrees at Goldsmiths . 

Contact the department

If you have specific questions about the degree, contact Panagiotis Pentaris .

Entry requirements

You should normally have (or expect to be awarded) a taught Masters in Art Therapy/Art Psychotherapy. 

You might also be considered for some programmes if you aren’t a graduate or your degree is in an unrelated field, but have relevant experience and can show that you have the ability to work at postgraduate level.

International qualifications

We accept a wide range of international qualifications. Find out more about the qualifications we accept from around the world.

If English isn’t your first language, you will need an IELTS score (or equivalent English language qualification ) of 6.5 with a 6.5 in writing and no element lower than 6.0 to study this programme. If you need assistance with your English language, we offer a range of courses that can help prepare you for postgraduate-level study .

Fees, funding & scholarships

Annual tuition fees.

These are the fees for students starting their programme in the 2024/2025 academic year.

  • Home - full-time: £TBC
  • Home - part-time: £TBC
  • International - full-time: £TBC

If your fees are not listed here, please check our postgraduate fees guidance or contact the Fees Office , who can also advise you about how to pay your fees.

It’s not currently possible for international students to study part-time under a student visa. If you think you might be eligible to study part-time while being on another visa type, please contact our Admissions Team for more information.

If you are looking to pay your fees please see our guide to making a payment .

Additional costs

In addition to your tuition fees, you'll be responsible for any additional costs associated with your course, such as buying stationery and paying for photocopying. You can find out more about what you need to budget for on our study costs page .

There may also be specific additional costs associated with your programme. This can include things like paying for field trips or specialist materials for your assignments.

Funding opportunities

Find out more about postgraduate fees and explore funding opportunities . If you're applying for funding, you may be subject to an application deadline.

How to apply

You apply directly to Goldsmiths using our online application system. 

Before submitting your application you'll need to have: 

  • Details of  your education history , including the dates of all exams/assessments
  • The  email address of your referee  who we can request a reference from, or alternatively an electronic copy of your academic reference
  • Contact details of a second referee
  • A  personal statement – this can either be uploaded as a Word Document or PDF, or completed online

           Please see our guidance on writing a postgraduate statement

  • If available, an electronic copy of your educational transcript (this is particularly important if you have studied outside of the UK, but isn’t mandatory)
  • Details of your  research proposal

You'll be able to save your progress at any point and return to your application by logging in using your username/email and password.

Before you apply for a research programme, we advise you to get in touch with the programme contact, listed above. It may also be possible to arrange an advisory meeting.

Before you start at Goldsmiths, the actual topic of your research has to be agreed with your proposed supervisor, who will be a member of staff active in your general field of research. The choice of topic may be influenced by the current research in the department or the requirements of an external funding body. 

If you wish to study on a part-time basis, you should also indicate how many hours a week you intend to devote to research, whether this will be at evenings or weekends, and for how many hours each day.

Research proposals

Along with your application and academic reference, you should also upload a research proposal at the point of application. 

This should be in the form of a statement of the proposed area of research and should include: 

  • delineation of the research topic
  • why it has been chosen
  • an initial hypothesis (if applicable)
  • a brief list of major secondary sources

When to apply  

We accept applications from October for students wanting to start the following September. 

We encourage you to complete your application as early as possible, even if you haven't finished your current programme of study. It's very common to be offered a place conditional on you achieving a particular qualification.  

If you're applying for external funding from one of the Research Councils, make sure you submit your application by the deadline they've specified. 

Selection process 

Admission to many programmes is by interview, unless you live outside the UK. Occasionally we'll make candidates an offer of a place on the basis of their application and qualifications alone.

Find out more about applying .

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IEATA International Expressive Arts Therapy Association ®


Doctorate Degree

*Please note this information is not being updated. A new education and training directory is being created with  searchable function to view: ​



CAMBRIDGE, MA Ph.D. in Expressive Therapies ​

CONTACT [email protected]




PhD in Psychology with a Specialization in Expressive Arts Therapy

Online Program

CONTACT [email protected]

[email protected]


SWITZERLAND Doctoral Program in Expressive Arts:

Therapy, Coaching, Consulting and Education, Conflict Transformation and Peacebuilding

Low-Residency Program During Summers


+41 27 474 99 17

+41 27 474 99 18

Note: Affiliated with Appalachian State University (Keith M. Davis at  [email protected] ). Programs exchange/transfer academic credits. In Europe, affiliated with Hochschule fur Musik und Theater in Hamburg, Germany(Gabriele Bastians at [email protected] )



Doctorate in Educational Leadership with a concentration in Expressive Arts, Leadership, and Inquiry  

The concentration in Expressive Arts, Leadership, and Inquiry will equip doctoral students with enhanced discernment and imagination that enriches leadership work across the spectrum of pK-20. Students in this concentration will become leaders using multi-modal expressive arts theory and inquiry to promote human flourishing,

View Graduate Bulletin for more details about course requirements.

For further information about the expressive arts program and other related resources, please visit or email us at [email protected]

Dr. Audrey Dentith

Doctoral Program in Educational Leadership Director and Professor Phone: 828-262-8382 [email protected]  


MAKAWAO, MAUI, HI PhD in Expressive Arts Therapy (two to four years, depending on Academic Study Plan and preparation of Doctorate Dissertation)

Program established in 1994 includes multi-modal expressive arts and exploration of each modality

CONTACT Elise Kert, Registrar, 800-806-0317, 808-573-7722 fax

[email protected][email protected] OR  Alessandra Colfi, Assistant to the Director, Expressive Arts Therapy Department

[email protected]


199 Aba Khoushy Av. Mount Carmel, Haifa, 31905, Israel

Two year training in Hebrew, offering MA in Creative Arts Therapies with a concentration in Art Therapy, Drama Therapy, Psychodrama, Music Therapy, or Dance/Movement Therapy. PhD at the School of Creative Arts Therapies


Phone:   +(972)4.824.9750

Contact: Dr. Hod Orkibi, PhD,  [email protected]

art therapy phd

The International Expressive Arts Therapy Association® (IEATA®) provides these resources as a courtesy for those interested in exploring the expressive arts. IEATA® assumes no responsibility for the accuracy of this information. IEATA® is not connected with any listed organization and does not endorse any educational institution as an official expressive arts training program. Individuals seeking a career in the expressive arts are encouraged to seek appropriate counseling from the institution of their choice. IEATA® and its representatives are not able to provide recommendations for any of these programs. If you know of a program or school that could be added to our listing, please contact the  Educational Resources Committee

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Art Therapy (MA)

Group of art therapy students at a table working on art projects

Program Features

  • 64 credits (full- or part-time completion options)
  • Curriculum includes required clinical hours at off-site internships

Full Time Course Progression, Fall Entry

Part time course progression, fall entry.

*  Choice of studio/clay/photography

Note:  Fall/Spring courses TUES-WED-THURS evenings; Internships require on-site of 16 hours per week minimum; Target accrual of 250 internship hours each semester

What to Expect Studying at Notre Dame of Maryland University

Small class sizes and personal attention enhance the student expertise while the curriculum is designed to align with licensure requirements.

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Melanie Sanderson

In high demand, internship opportunities.

You will complete clinical hours at off-site practicum and internship placements in order to gain valuable experience and also meet the requirements to pursue licensure.

Art Therapy Careers

Art therapy is an integrative mental health and human services profession that enriches lives through a combination of active art-making, creative process, applied psychological theory, and human experience within a psychotherapeutic relationship.

Licensed art therapists can work in a variety of settings:

  • Veteran's Clinics
  • Private Practice
  • Psychiatric & Rehabilitation Facilities
  • Community Based Settings
  • Senior Communities


The Art Therapy (MA) program at Notre Dame of Maryland University is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs ( ) upon the recommendation of The Accreditation Council for Art Therapy Education.

Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs 25400 US Hwy 19N, Suite 158, Clearwater, FL. 33763. 727-210-2350

Employment Outcomes of Master of Arts in Art Therapy at NDMU

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Payment plans are available upon request up to 36 monthly installments. More info...

Faculty of Psychology via distance learning

Faculty of Psychology

  • Doctor Ph.D. Degree

45 ... 72 Academic credits required for this distance learning degree program.


+ 30 Academic credits - Art Therapy Online + Other additional subjects + 18 Academic credits - Research methodology and final project or thesis.

+ 30 Academic credits: Art Therapy Online

BIU Earned Credits Credits earned through the completion of academic work at Bircham International University (Reports, Projects and Thesis).

1 BIU Earned Credit = 1 USA Semester Credit (15 hours of learning) = 2 ECTS Credits (30 hours of study). Courses list (each subject accounts for 3 academic credits): You may study any subject as an independent online continuing education course. More info...

Postgraduate level continuing education course. Previous knowledge in this field of study is required.

601ARY - Senses Awareness & Development 602ARY - Art & Philosophy 603ARY - Art & Religion 604ARY - Color Therapy 605ARY - Chinese & Japanese Art 606ARY - Contemporary Art 607ARY - Art History 608ARY - Artistic Design 609ARY - Art Therapy 610ARY - Creative Arts More info...

Bibliography: Art Therapy via distance learning The corresponding textbooks are included in the fees. Once the fee has been paid, the books may take between two to five weeks to reach your address. Bircham International University offices may inform you at any time of the status of your books. If the book is in English, the required report must be written in English unless you have requested to write it in other language and have gained Bircham International University authorization. More info... Click here to access the recommended bibliography.

+ Additional courses may be selected from other modules in the Faculty of Psychology from Bircham International University if required. This selection must be approved by the Distance Learning University Education Board. For example: Sensory Therapy .

Research work resources and network - Doctor - Art Therapy:

AATA - American Art Therapy Association AITEAS - Asociación Internacional de Terapias Expresivas y Arte Social ATE - Asociación Profesional Española de Arteterapeutas BAAT - British Association of Art Therapists EFAT - The European Federation of Art Therapy FEAPA - Federación Española de Asociaciones Profesionales de Arteterapia FFAT - Fédération Française des Art-Thérapeutes IATA - International Art Therapy Alliance IEATA - International Expressive Arts Therapy Association More info...

Joining the proper association is the best way to become an updated professional. Bircham International University graduates may join many professional associations. Membership requirements for each association may vary depending on the degree program, specialization and graduate resume en each occasion. BIU can not guarantee membership in all instances. BIU does not intermediate in these procedures. Bircham International University provides a list of available memberships and professional references from each faculty where some BIU graduates may belong. Contact directly the ones you select. More info...

+ 18 Academic credits (Research methodology and final project or thesis. More info... ).

Admission requirements: Doctor - Art Therapy

Bircham International University distance learning degree admission requirements differ depending upon the Faculty and the major of study. There is no discrimination with respect to race, color, sex, beliefs and/or religion. A minimum of 30% of the total number of credits required by any adult degree program syllabus has to be transferred from previous education and/or validated from professional experience in order to gain admission. A maximum of 20% of the total number of credits required by the distance learning degree program can be transferred from professional and life experience. More info...

Click to Download... Application for Admission

Learning outcomes: Doctor - Art Therapy

The following learning outcomes are compatible with the European Qualifications Framework (EQF) for lifelong learning and continuing education. The EQF directives facilitate acceptance of this course credits by many higher education institution. These learning outcomes are achieved after completion of this course with a passing grade. Better grades will demonstrate higher analysis, evaluation and critical thinking skills. More info...

EQF LEVEL 6. Advanced knowledge and critical understanding. Outcome resulting from course content assessment and its applicability to problem solving. The student's ability to combine the different parts of the text and to form a new coherent and harmonic final report will determine the critical understanding of the subject and an advanced knowledge of Art Therapy. The student written report style, content, and structure play an important role in the assessment and applicability of the knowledge about Art Therapy to different Psychology decision making scenarios and problem-solving. More info...

EQF LEVEL 7. Advanced knowledge and critical thinking. Outcome resulting from written critical thinking and its applicability to problem solving. The student will contrast and evaluate the learned material with his/her own knowledge and experience to express an opinion about Art Therapy, to consider the practical application of the key concepts, and to argue the conclusions along the written report. Personal judgments and opinion should be based on sound criteria and must be clearly discussed. More info...

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Blend Images - KidStock / Brand X Pictures / Getty Images


Things to consider, how to get started.

The use of artistic methods to treat psychological disorders and enhance mental health is known as art therapy. Art therapy is a technique rooted in the idea that creative expression can foster healing and mental well-being.

People have been relying on the arts for communication, self-expression, and healing for thousands of years. But art therapy didn't start to become a formal program until the 1940s.

Doctors noted that individuals living with mental illness often expressed themselves in drawings and other artworks, which led many to explore the use of art as a healing strategy. Since then, art has become an important part of the therapeutic field and is used in some assessment and treatment techniques.

Types of Creative Therapies

Art therapy is not the only type of creative art used in the treatment of mental illness. Other types of creative therapies include:

  • Dance therapy
  • Drama therapy
  • Expressive therapy
  • Music therapy
  • Writing therapy

The goal of art therapy is to utilize the creative process to help people explore self-expression and, in doing so, find new ways to gain personal insight and develop new coping skills.

The creation or appreciation of art is used to help people explore emotions, develop self-awareness, cope with stress, boost self-esteem, and work on social skills.

Techniques used in art therapy can include:

  • Doodling and scribbling
  • Finger painting
  • Photography
  • Working with clay

As clients create art, they may analyze what they have made and how it makes them feel. Through exploring their art, people can look for themes and conflicts that may be affecting their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors.

What Art Therapy Can Help With

Art therapy can be used to treat a wide range of mental disorders and psychological distress . In many cases, it might be used in conjunction with other psychotherapy techniques such as group therapy or cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) .

Some conditions that art therapy may be used to treat include:

  • Aging-related issues
  • Eating disorders
  • Emotional difficulties
  • Family or relationship problems
  • Medical conditions
  • Psychological symptoms associated with other medical issues
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Psychosocial issues
  • Substance use disorder

Benefits of Art Therapy

According to a 2016 study published in the  Journal of the American Art Therapy Association, less than an hour of creative activity can reduce your stress and have a positive effect on your mental health, regardless of artistic experience or talent.

An art therapist may use a variety of art methods, including drawing, painting, sculpture, and collage with clients ranging from young children to older adults.

Clients who have experienced emotional trauma, physical violence, domestic abuse, anxiety, depression, and other psychological issues can benefit from expressing themselves creatively.

Some situations in which art therapy might be utilized include:

  • Adults experiencing severe stress
  • Children experiencing behavioral or social problems at school or at home
  • Children or adults who have experienced a traumatic event
  • Children with learning disabilities
  • Individuals living with a brain injury
  • People experiencing mental health problems

While research suggests that art therapy may be beneficial, some of the findings on its effectiveness are mixed. Studies are often small and inconclusive, so further research is needed to explore how and when art therapy may be most beneficial.  

  • In studies of adults who experienced trauma, art therapy was found to significantly reduce trauma symptoms and decrease levels of depression.
  • One review of the effectiveness of art therapy found that this technique helped patients undergoing medical treatment for cancer improve their quality of life and alleviated a variety of psychological symptoms.
  • One study found that art therapy reduced depression and increased self-esteem in older adults living in nursing homes.

If you or someone you love is thinking about art therapy, there are some common misconceptions and facts you should know.

You Don't Have to Be Artistic

People do not need to have artistic ability or special talent to participate in art therapy, and people of all ages including children, teens , and adults can benefit from it. Some research suggests that just the presence of art can play a part in boosting mental health.

A 2017 study found that art displayed in hospital settings contributed to an environment where patients felt safe. It also played a role in improving socialization and maintaining an identity outside of the hospital.

It's Not the Same as an Art Class

People often wonder how an art therapy session differs from an art class. Where an art class is focused on teaching technique or creating a specific finished product, art therapy is more about letting clients focus on their inner experience.

In creating art, people are able to focus on their own perceptions, imagination, and feelings. Clients are encouraged to create art that expresses their inner world more than making something that is an expression of the outer world.

Art Therapy Can Take Place in a Variety of Settings

Inpatient offices, private mental health offices, schools, and community organizations are all possible settings for art therapy services. Additionally, art therapy may be available in other settings such as:

  • Art studios
  • Colleges and universities
  • Community centers
  • Correctional facilities
  • Elementary schools and high schools
  • Group homes
  • Homeless shelters
  • Private therapy offices
  • Residential treatment centers
  • Senior centers
  • Wellness center
  • Women's shelters

If specialized media or equipment is required, however, finding a suitable setting may become challenging.

Art Therapy Is Not for Everyone

Art therapy isn’t for everyone. While high levels of creativity or artistic ability aren't necessary for art therapy to be successful, many adults who believe they are not creative or artistic might be resistant or skeptical of the process.

In addition, art therapy has not been found effective for all types of mental health conditions. For example, one meta-analysis found that art therapy is not effective in reducing positive or negative symptoms of schizophrenia.

If you think you or someone you love would benefit from art therapy, consider the following steps:

  • Seek out a trained professional . Qualified art therapists will hold at least a master’s degree in psychotherapy with an additional art therapy credential. To find a qualified art therapist, consider searching the Art Therapy Credentials Board website .
  • Call your health insurance . While art therapy may not be covered by your health insurance, there may be certain medical waivers to help fund part of the sessions. Your insurance may also be more likely to cover the sessions if your therapist is a certified psychologist or psychiatrist who offers creative therapies.
  • Ask about their specialty . Not all art therapists specialize in all mental health conditions. Many specialize in working with people who have experienced trauma or individuals with substance use disorders, for example.
  • Know what to expect . During the first few sessions, your art therapist will likely ask you about your health background as well as your current concerns and goals. They may also suggest a few themes to begin exploring via drawing, painting, sculpting, or another medium.
  • Be prepared to answer questions about your art-making process . As the sessions progress, you'll likely be expected to answer questions about your art and how it makes you feel. For example: What were you thinking while doing the art? Did you notice a change of mood from when you started to when you finished? Did the artwork stir any memories?

Becoming an Art Therapist

If you are interested in becoming an art therapist, start by checking with your state to learn more about the education, training, and professional credentials you will need to practice. In most cases, you may need to first become a licensed clinical psychologist , professional counselor, or social worker in order to offer psychotherapy services.

In the United States, the Art Therapy Credentials Board, Inc. (ATCB) offers credentialing programs that allow art therapists to become registered, board-certified, or licensed depending upon the state in which they live and work.

According to the American Art Therapy Association, the minimum requirements:

  • A master's degree in art therapy, or
  • A master's degree in counseling or a related field with additional coursework in art therapy

Additional post-graduate supervised experience is also required. You can learn more about the training and educational requirements to become an art therapist on the AATA website .

Van Lith T. Art therapy in mental health: A systematic review of approaches and practices . The Arts in Psychotherapy . 2016;47:9-22. doi:10.1016/j.aip.2015.09.003

Junge MB. History of Art Therapy . The Wiley Handbook of Art Therapy . Published online November 6, 2015:7-16. doi:10.1002/9781118306543.ch1

Farokhi M. Art therapy in humanistic psychiatry . Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences . 2011;30:2088-2092. doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2011.10.406

Haen C, Nancy Boyd Webb. Creative Arts-Based Group Therapy with Adolescents: Theory and Practice . 1st ed. (Haen C, Webb NB, eds.). Routledge; 2019. doi:10.4324/9780203702000

Schouten KA, de Niet GJ, Knipscheer JW, Kleber RJ, Hutschemaekers GJM. The effectiveness of art therapy in the treatment of traumatized adults . Trauma, Violence, & Abuse . 2014;16(2):220-228. doi:10.1177/1524838014555032

Gall DJ, Jordan Z, Stern C. Effectiveness and meaningfulness of art therapy as a tool for healthy aging: a comprehensive systematic review protocol . JBI Evidence Synthesis . 2015;13(3):3-17. doi:10.11124/jbisrir-2015-1840

Lefèvre C, Ledoux M, Filbet M. Art therapy among palliative cancer patients: Aesthetic dimensions and impacts on symptoms . Palliative and Supportive Care . 2015;14(4):376-380. doi:10.1017/s1478951515001017

Hunter M. Art therapy and eating disorders . In: Gussak DE, Rosal ML, eds.  The Wiley Handbook of Art Therapy . John Wiley & Sons, Ltd; 2015:387-396.

Schmanke L. Art therapy and substance abuse . The Wiley Handbook of Art Therapy . Published online November 6, 2015:361-374. doi:10.1002/9781118306543.ch35

Kaimal G, Ray K, Muniz J. Reduction of cortisol levels and participants’ responses following art making . Art Therapy . 2016;33(2):74-80. doi:10.1080/07421656.2016.1166832

Gussak DE, Rosal ML, eds. The Wiley Handbook of Art Therapy . 1st ed. John Wiley & Sons, Ltd; 2015. doi:10.1002/9781118306543

Regev D, Cohen-Yatziv L. Effectiveness of art therapy with adult clients in 2018—what progress has been made?   Front Psychol . 2018;9. doi:10.3389%2Ffpsyg.2018.01531

Regev D, Cohen-Yatziv L. Effectiveness of art therapy with adult clients in 2018—what progress has been made? .  Front Psychol . 2018;9:1531. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2018.01531

Ching-Teng Y, Ya-Ping Y, Yu-Chia C. Positive effects of art therapy on depression and self-esteem of older adults in nursing homes .  Social Work in Health Care . 2019;58(3):324-338. doi:10.1080/00981389.2018.1564108

Nielsen SL, Fich LB, Roessler KK, Mullins MF. How do patients actually experience and use art in hospitals? The significance of interaction: a user-oriented experimental case study .  International Journal of Qualitative Studies on Health and Well-being . 2017;12(1):1267343. doi:10.1080/17482631.2016.1267343

Gussak DE. Art therapy in the prison milieu . In: Gussak DE, Rosal ML, eds.  The Wiley Handbook of Art Therapy . John Wiley & Sons, Ltd; 2015:478-486. doi:10.1002/9781118306543.ch46

Stuckey HL, Nobel J. The connection between art, healing, and public health: A review of current literature . Am J Public Health . 2010;100(2):254-63. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2008.156497

Bird J. Art therapy, arts-based research and transitional stories of domestic violence and abuse . International Journal of Art Therapy . 2018;23(1):14-24.  doi:10.1080/17454832.2017.1317004

Laws KR, Conway W. Do adjunctive art therapies reduce symptomatology in schizophrenia? A meta-analysis .  WJP . 2019;9(8):107-120. doi:10.5498/wjp.v9.i8.107

About The Credentials | Art Therapy Credentials Board, Inc. ATCB.

Bureau of Labor Statistics. Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2018: 29-1125 Recreational Therapists .

Nielsen SL, Fich LB, Roessler KK, Mullins MF. How do patients actually experience and use art in hospitals? The significance of interaction: a user-oriented experimental case study. Int J Qual Stud Health Well-being. 2017;12(1):1267343. doi:10.1080/17482631.2016.1267343

By Kendra Cherry, MSEd Kendra Cherry, MS, is a psychosocial rehabilitation specialist, psychology educator, and author of the "Everything Psychology Book."

Search NYU Steinhardt

Children's art in classroom

How to Apply MA, Art Therapy

Integrating visual arts with psychotherapy, this American Art Therapy Association–accredited master of arts therapy program engages the creative power of art for mental health assessment and treatment, preparing you to work in clinical practice in a variety of settings. Graduates are eligible for  New York State licensure  as a creative arts therapist (LCAT) and meet educational requirements for the Registered Art Therapist (ATR) credential.

Official Degree Title

Application Deadline

Admissions Information

Program Information

Admissions Requirements

In order to be considered for admission to this program, you must have completed a minimum of 18 credits in studio art, 12 credits in psychology, and 30 credits in the behavioral or social sciences and/or liberal arts disciplines. You are expected to show proficiency in the basic area of the visual arts: figurative drawing, painting, and clay modeling. The required prerequisite psychology courses are: Introduction to Psychology, Abnormal Psychology, Theories of Personality (or Personality Development), and Child Psychology (or Developmental Psychology). Deficiencies in course credits may be made up either prior to admission or during the first semester that courses are available.

Students may participate in the program on a full- or part-time basis. A two-year period is required for full-time completion. The Art Therapy master’s welcomes students from diverse cultural and national backgrounds.

How to Apply

These instructions and requirements are for all applicants. If you are not a citizen or a permanent resident of the United States, please read the  special instructions for international applicants .

Your application will require the following items. The following are acceptable document types for uploads: .pdf, .jpeg, .jpg, .gif, .tiff, .png, .doc, .docx, and bitmap.

1. Prepare Your Application

You are required to upload a copy of your most recent résumé or curriculum vitae as part of your application.

Statement of Purpose

You are required to upload a typed, double-spaced, two- to three-page statement explaining your purpose in undertaking graduate study in this particular program as part of your application. This is your opportunity to introduce yourself and to inform the admissions committee about your goals, interests, and career plans as they relate to your intended academic pursuits.

Letters of Recommendation

Submit  three  letters of recommendation. Be sure to request them well in advance of the deadline. Read  detailed instructions .


Upload one official copy of transcripts from every postsecondary school you have attended or are attending. Make sure to request them in advance of the deadline.

If you completed or are completing a degree at an institution outside of the US or Canada, you are required to provide a WES or ECE evaluation. Please review our requirements for translation and a course-by-course evaluation of your transcripts.

See  detailed instructions on submitting transcripts .

Not required.

Proficiency in English

See  testing requirements .

You are required to upload a portfolio of your artwork.

As part of the online application for this program, you will be prompted to upload a portfolio consisting of 20 images of your artwork that reflects the strongest selections of your practice. All portfolios must be submitted via your online application. 

Your portfolio should consist of digital images of your recent work in .jpg, .png, or .gif format, and no larger than 1280 x 1024 pixels (maximum 5MB). .pdfs no larger than 10MB may be uploaded as well. Each image should have a title, description, size, and medium entered at the time you upload it.

Please include an inventory of images in .pdf format with your name in the top right hand corner and a list of images numbered in the order of viewing. Include title, if any, medium, dimensions, and date. You may upload videos not in excess of 60 MB.

Videos can be a compilation of various works, but the total running time cannot exceed five minutes per video. Genres appropriate to video documentation include video art, performance, and kinetic art, but notdocumentation of sculptures or exhibitions.

We do not accept PowerPoint or Keynote presentations. You may also upload an optional artist’s statement in the Portfolio section of the online application.

Artist Statement:

Optional. Upload the Artist Statement to the Portfolio section of the online application.

Interview and Workshop

A select number of applicants will be invited to attend an interview and workshop. The workshop is composed of three art tasks assigned for the purpose of getting to know the applicants' styles of expressing their thoughts and ideas pictorially. The Art Therapy program will contact those select applicants by phone or email to set a date.


Start your application now

After you fill in and upload the required information, you can submit your completed application.  Your application must be completed, dated, electronically signed, and submitted by 11:59 p.m. EST of the stated deadline.

Application Fee

You will be prompted to pay a $75 application fee, payable by major credit card only. After submitting your payment, you will see your application status change from “saved” to “submitted.” Please print this screen for your records, as it confirms that your application has been successfully sent to our school. If you have problems submitting your payment, please contact the Office of Graduate Admissions. Learn more about our  fee waiver policy .

Mailing Additional Items

If any application materials need to be mailed to our office, mail the materials to NYU Steinhardt, Office of Graduate Admissions, 82 Washington Square East, 3rd Floor New York, NY 10003-6680.  Please do not mail your materials in binders or folders. Any mailed materials must be  received by, not postmarked by, the stated deadline . Only completed applications will be considered and reviewed by the Admissions Committee. Due to high volume, we are unable to confirm receipt of mailed materials.

Application Policies

Application deadlines are "in-office" deadlines, not postmark deadlines.  It is your responsibility to ensure that all materials are in the Office of Graduate Admissions by the appropriate deadline, and we reserve the right to return any application that arrives after the deadline. Only completed applications will be considered. Should a deadline fall on a weekend, the in-office deadline will be the next business day. We advise you to apply early.

Please check the online system to confirm that you have successfully submitted your application.  Due to the volume of applications and related materials received, the Office of Graduate Admissions will only contact you if your application was successfully submitted and is deemed incomplete because of missing required materials. Otherwise, you will hear from us when the admissions committee has made its decision.

Deferral policy:  NYU Steinhardt does not allow deferrals. Applicants who wish to be considered for a future semester must reapply by submitting a new application with all supporting materials, including letters of recommendation, by the application deadline.

3. Receive Your Admission Decision

You will be notified about your decision by email. Typically, decisions will start going out in late November for Spring semester enrollment and in late March or early April for Summer or Fall enrollment. You may learn of your decision before or after this timeline.

Financial Aid

In order to be eligible for any financial aid you MUST complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

The deadline to submit the FAFSA is March 1 for Fall/Summer enrollment or November 1 for Spring enrollment. Do not wait to be accepted. You can use tax forms from the previous tax year to submit.

For more information please visit the  NYU Financial Aid website ,  Steinhardt Graduate Financial Aid site , and the  NYU Steinhardt Office of Admissions Paying for Your Education site. 

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PhDs in art therapy

The following is a list of PhDs in art therapy undertaken from 1972 onwards, with links to download theses where available.

1972 Title:  Art therapy: a personal appraisal Author:  Waller, Diane E. Awarding institution:  Royal College of Art

1986 Title:  Art therapy as an approach to mental handicap Author:  Males, J.M. Awarding institution:  University of Surrey

1990 Title:  Transference and countertransference in art therapy: mediation, interpretation and the aesthetic object Author:  Schaverien, Joy Awarding institution : City of Birmingham Polytechnic Keywords:  analytical art; psychotherapy; art; psychology; philosophy; religion

1994 Title:   Archetypal psychology and traditional Ghanian beliefs: towards the construction of a cross-cultural model of art therapy Author:  Yakubu Peligah, Seidu Awarding institution:  Birmingham City University

1997 Title:   Art therapy and the development of communicative abilities in children with autism Author:  Evans, Kathleen Raymonde Awarding institution:  University of Hertfordshire

2000 Title:   Art, psychotherapy and psychosis: the nature and the politics of art therapy Author:  Wood, Chris Awarding institution:  University of Sheffield

2001 Title:   An investigation into the processes of supervision of art therapy students in Israel Author:  Kamar, Ofra Awarding institution:  University of Sussex Country:  United Kingdom

2006 Title:   An inquiry into the relationship between the visual arts and psychotherapy in post-revolutionary Cuba Author:  Hills, Margaret Awarding institution:  Queen Margaret University Country:  United Kingdom

Title:  Art therapy in education for children with specific learning difficulties who have experienced stress and/or emotional trauma Author:  Óttarsdóttir, Unnur Awarding institution:  University of Hertfordshire

Title:   Is art therapy?:  art for mental health at the millennium Author:  Brown, Langley Awarding institution:  Manchester Metropolitan University

Title:  Liminality, cancer and art therapy: an autoethnographic exploration - living with the tiger Author:  Sibbett, C. H. Awarding institution:  Queen's University of Belfast

Title:   Towards ethical 'arts of existence': through art therapy and narrative therapy Author:  Linnell, Sheridan Awarding institution:  University of Western Sydney; College of Arts Keywords:  art therapy; narrative therapy; poststructuralism; arts; therapeutic use

2007 Title:  Cultural variables affecting client/therapist consonance: the perception of efficacy in arts therapies groups Author:  Dokter, Ditty Awarding institution:  University of Hertfordshire

2008 Title:   Drawing on the end of life: art therapy, spirituality and palliative care: a retrospective ethnographic study of meaning-making in art therapy Author:  Bell, Simon Nicholas Awarding institution:  University of Sheffield

Title:   The psychodynamic body: a mythos of psychotherapy Author:  Hueneke, Anna Awarding institution:  University of Western Sydney; College of Arts; School of Psychology Keywords:  psychotherapy; psychodynamic psychotherapy; art therapy

2009 Title : The effectiveness of art therapy in reducing symptoms of trauma, anxiety, and stress: a meta-analysis Author:  Campbell, Emma R. Awarding institution:  Wheaton College Graduate School, Illinois, USA

Title:   Family assessment and interactive art exercise: an integrated model Author:  Hanney, Lesley Supervisors:   Carr, Adrian;  Westwood, Jill Awarding institution:  University of Western Sydney; College of Arts Keywords:  family psychotherapy; child psychotherapy; art therapy

2010 Title:  Hybrid creatures: mapping the emerging shape of art therapy education in Australia Author:  Westwood, Jill Awarding institution:  Goldsmiths College (University of London); University of Western Sydney Keywords:  art therapy education; theories; Australia; qualitative study; bricolage; hybrid creatures

Title:  An investigation of the relationship art and talk in art therapy groups Author:  Skaife, Sally Elizabeth Awarding institution:  City University

Title:   'Reunion of broken parts' (Arabic al-jabr): a therapist's personal art practice and its relationship to an NHS outpatient art psychotherapy group: an exploration through visual arts and crafts practice Author:  Mahony, Jacqueline Eleanor Awarding institution:  Goldsmiths College (University of London)

2011 Title:   Disciplinary understandings of anorexia nervosa: art therapy and psychiatric research from a feminist perspective Author:  Rehavia-Hanauer, Dafna Awarding institution:  University of Derby Supervisor:   Hogan, Dr Susan

Title:   Effectiveness of school based art therapy for children who have experienced psychological trauma Author:  Markland, Frances Elizabeth Awarding institution:  University of Manchester

Title:   Looking for a subject: art therapy and assessment in autism Author:  Tipple, Robin A. Awarding institution:  Goldsmiths, University of London

2012 Title:   Art psychotherapy and congenital blindness: investigating the gaze Author:  Herrmann, U. K. Awarding institution:  Goldsmiths College (University of London)

Current Title:  The dynamics of proto-metaphorisation: investigating the processes that lead to implicit metaphorisation in art psychotherapy with patients diagnosed with borderline personality disorder Author:  Havsteen-Franklin, Dominik Supervisor:   Hinshelwood, Prof. Robert Awarding institution:  University of Essex, Centre for Psychoanalytic Studies

Title:  A descriptive and evaluative study of arts therapists’ practice with adults faced with depression in the UK Author:  Zubala, Ania Awarding institution:  Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh

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Spooner Grad Makes Dean’s List At UW-Superior

Named on this list is Spooner High School Graduate of 2023 - Taylor Childs, who is pursuing a degree in Art Therapy.

SUPERIOR, WI -- The University of Wisconsin-Superior has released its Dean’s List for academic achievement during the Fall 2023 semester.

“Taylor has always had a deep love for art and a compassionate heart for those in need. Her kind heart and gentle soul radiate through her pieces of art. Taylor's decision to pursue art therapy as a career path reflects her passion to make a positive impact on the lives of others using her incredible artistic talent. Being named to the UWS Dean's list is not only a reflection of her academic success but also her commitment to making a difference in the people's lives she touches. We are so incredibly proud of Taylor's dedication, creativity, and academic excellence!” — Dan, Linda, and Kasey King / Grandparents and Mother of Taylor Childs

To be named to the Dean’s List, students must have completed 12 degree-seeking semester credits and achieved at least a 3.50 grade point average (on a 4.0 scale).

art therapy phd

Taylor Childs

Founded in 1893 as a teacher’s college, UW-Superior has more than 50 program offerings, select online and graduate programs, competitive Division III athletics programs, and research and scholarship programs that support the community and region.


How to view: If on a mobile device, you will be prompted to view/download the report which requires a PDF Viewer to open. If on a desktop, the report will appear below without having to download.

Last Update: Feb 02, 2024 2:00 pm CST

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  22. PHDS Art Therapy

    1997. Title: Art therapy and the development of communicative abilities in children with autism. Author: Evans, Kathleen Raymonde. Awarding institution: University of Hertfordshire. 2000. Title: Art, psychotherapy and psychosis: the nature and the politics of art therapy. Author: Wood, Chris.

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  24. Spooner Grad Makes Dean's List At UW-Superior

    SUPERIOR, WI -- The University of Wisconsin-Superior has released its Dean's List for academic achievement during the Fall 2023 semester. Named on this list is Spooner High School Graduate of 2023 - Taylor Childs, who is pursuing a degree in Art Therapy. "Taylor has always had a deep love for art and a compassionate heart for those in need.