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Expressive therapies.

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Apply research and creativity to spark individual and societal change.

Transform individuals and communities through creativity, scholarship, and collaboration. Enhance your practice and become a leader in expressive therapies through this low-residency doctoral program, which interweaves artistic expression and inquiry with a focus on research. Join with Lesley’s world-recognized faculty and other committed professionals to expand the theory and practice of expressive therapies, exploring new opportunities for research and global impact.

Lesley University’s doctoral program in expressive therapies provides you with the opportunity for in-depth study, artistic growth, and professional development regardless of your arts therapy specialization.

Guided by your own interests and experience, you’ll conduct relevant research and contribute new scholarship to the field. Whether you’re looking to further your career in higher education or become a leader in an arts therapy discipline, our program is designed to help you meet your goals.

The low-residency model provides a convenient format that allows you to expand your knowledge base in expressive therapies, while accommodating your work schedule and personal life. Complete a 2-week on-campus residency for three summers. During the residency, you’ll meet with your faculty advisor, attend seminars and classes, design research projects, and collaborate with other doctoral students. Between residencies, continue your work from home while staying connected with your faculty advisor and peers via online class sessions.

Program Structure

Low-Residency Doctoral Program

  • To enroll in this program, you’ll need to show proof of: - An earned master's degree from a regionally accredited institution. - Certification or registration in one of the expressive therapies modalities (art therapy, dance therapy, drama therapy, expressive arts therapy, music therapy, play therapy, poetry therapy, or psychodrama). - Demonstration of good communication skills in the English language, both written and oral, at a level appropriate to doctoral study. - Demonstration of satisfactory performance on the GRE or the MAT examination. The Lesley University CEEB number is 3483 for the GRE and 1214 for the MAT. - A minimum of 3-5 years of professional experience as an expressive therapist.
  • - Shifting Power Paradigms in Research - Arts Based Research I - Philosophical Foundations of Expressive Therapies - Critical Inquiry I - Research: Quantitative I - Research: Qualitative I
  • - Critical Inquiry II - Research II - Research II: Qualitative II - Literature Review - Research II: Quantitative II - Arts Based Research II
  • - Interdisciplinary Seminar - Leadership in Expressive Therapies - Professional Seminar
  • Complete and defend your dissertation during your final years of study.

Students sit in chairs in a circle having a class discussion on Lesley's lawn.

Low-Residency Format

Participate in one 2-week summer residency on Lesley University’s Cambridge campus for the first 3 years of your program. Between residencies, continue your studies online with Lesley faculty, devoting significant weekly time toward doctoral study. Your final years are dedicated to off-site, independent work on your dissertation with support from your faculty advisors. 

Shaun McNiff speaks about his career in expressive therapies

Innovators in the Field

Established over 40 years ago, we were the first graduate program in the U.S. to train professionals in this emerging field. Today our program is the largest of its kind and remains at the forefront of innovation. Our reputation and outstanding faculty—all practitioners in the arts—are what attract students from around the world.

Artistic photo of Noel King with hands around face and prism over her fingers

Myriam Savage ’15

Expressive arts therapy can treat:.

elderly hands with pastels

How Creative Expression Can Benefit Older Adults

Mitchell kossak receives 'shining star' award.

man walking in harvard square, cambridge

Cambridge, MA

A nexus for higher education and mental health counseling practice and research, each year 250,000 students arrive to Cambridge from around the globe. The intellectual and cultural capital runs deep, and so do your opportunities addressing barriers to wellness. From Lesley’s location, access innovative community, hospital, and school-based mental health programs.

  • Mental Health Therapist
  • Music Therapist
  • Art Therapist
  • Drama Therapist
  • Creative Therapist
  • Dance/Movement Therapist
  • Expressive Arts Therapist
  • Universities and Colleges
  • Mental Health Clinics
  • Psychiatric Clinics
  • Assisted Living Facilities
  • Correctional Facilities

faculty robyn flaum cruz

Professor of Expressive Therapies

Dr. Robyn Cruz’s clinical work has spanned populations such as adults with serious and persistent mental illnesses and children and adolescents with trauma and substance abuse issues. Her doctoral degree is in Educational Psychology with a specialization in Measurement and Methodology. She has worked as a research methodologist and research consultant, taught doctoral students since 1995, and has taught graduate courses in dance therapy, research methods, and statistics to students from many disciplines in the US, Europe, and South America.

Her courses reflect her interests in creative arts therapies research that uses the broad range of available methods and particularly, incorporating research thinking and resources into creative arts therapies clinical practices. Her teaching philosophy and practice are grounded in a professional collaboration model that reflects skills honed by teaching statistics to doctoral students from many disciplines at the University of Arizona. She uses a model based on the fact that students learn least from an instructor's oral recitation of information and most from engaging the subject matter themselves.

Robyn believes that policy and leadership go hand-in-hand with creative arts therapies and are important for the continued development and viability of these professions. She has devoted years of service to the University and to the Creative Arts Therapies community at large. She served as Co-Chair for the Lesley University Institutional Review Board from 2012-2021, and as IRB member from 2005 to the present. She was featured in the Lesley University 2012 Annual Report.

She is a past President of the American Dance Therapy Association (ADTA), serving four years as Vice President and four years as President of the organization. In these capacities she regularly visited Washington, DC to speak with lawmakers about creative arts therapies with respect to access for clients and licensing. As ADTA President, she introduced the Multicultural and Diversity Committee to the ADTA Board of Directors. This was the first new standing committee created in the organization in over 25 years.

Robyn also brought the Dance/Movement Therapy Certification Board, a separate credentialing body for dance therapy, and new credentials (R-DMT and BC-DMT) into existence during her presidency, creating new professional opportunities and oversight for professional dance therapists. She is a former editor of American Journal of Dance Therapy, and served as Editor-in-Chief of The Arts in Psychotherapy from 2002 to 2015. She is past Chairperson of the National Coalition for Creative Arts Therapies Associations.  

Michele Forinash

Michele Forinash

Professor, Director of the PhD in Expressive Therapies

Dr. Forinash is Professor and Director of the PhD program in Expressive Therapies at Lesley University. A graduate of Columbus State University in Columbus, Georgia, Dr. Forinash completed her master’s and doctorate at New York University. She is a past president of the American Music Therapy Association and a past chair of the National Coalition of Creative Arts Therapies (NCCATA). She has published articles and chapters on qualitative research, supervision, feminist music therapy, and LGBTQ awareness and has presented internationally on these topics. For ten years she served as the North American Co-Editor for the online international music therapy journal Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy ( ). She is also an associated supervisor for the doctoral program in music therapy at Aalborg University, Aalborg, Denmark.

Professor Jason Frydman

Jason Frydman

Associate Professor, Expressive Therapies

Jason S. Frydman, PhD, RCT/BCT, NCSP is associate professor of expressive therapies at Lesley University where he teaches in the doctoral expressive therapies program and co-chairs the university's institutional review board. He is a registered drama therapist/board certified trainer with the North American Drama Therapy Association, a nationally certified school psychologist with the National Association of School Psychologists, and licensed psychologist (GA). Dr. Frydman is the founder and lead researcher of the Collaborative for Creative Arts Therapies in Schools (C-CATIS), based at Lesley. He serves as the associate editor for general topics for Translational Issues in Psychological Science and sits on the editorial boards of Drama Therapy Review and School Psychology Review. Research interests include creative arts therapies in schools, research issues in the creative arts therapies, mental health literacy, and school-based trauma-informed practices. He has served as NADTA conference co-chair, communications chair, and is immediate-past research chair. He is an invited and initial member of the Mental Health Literacy Collaborative and served on the advisory board for the Foundation for Jewish Camping.

Professional service

Jason is active in professional service, including

  • Co-chair of the North American Drama Therapy Association Conference (2012)
  • North American Drama Therapy Association Communications Chair (2012-2015) and Research Chair (2019-2021)
  • Guest co-editor of the Drama Therapy Review (DTR) special issue: Drama Therapy in the Schools (5.1)
  • Current editorial boards include the Drama Therapy Review, School Psychology Review , and Translational Issues in Psychological Science

Mitchell Kossak

Mitchell Kossak

Professor/Coordinator of Expressive Therapies

Dr. Mitchell Kossak , LMHC, REAT is a professor in the Department of Graduate Expressive Therapies at Lesley University. He served as Department Chair from 2006 to 2013. He was the President and Executive Co-Chair for the International Expressive Arts Therapy Association (IEATA) 2010-2016. He has been a licensed mental health counselor, since 1994, and is a Registered Expressive Arts Therapist (REAT).

He is the Associate Editor of the Journal of Applied Arts and Health and Co-Chair of the Institute for Arts and Health at Lesley University. His clinical work combines expressive arts therapies with body-centered approaches with a variety of populations addressing issues such as chronic pain, recovery from trauma, depression, anxiety, life transitions and relationships. In addition he has worked extensively with autistic children and adults. Mitchell has trained in a variety of mind body modalities including Polarity Therapy, Craniosacral Therapy, Deep Tissue Massage and Bioenergetics. In Expressive Arts Therapies he has training in music therapy, experimental theater, psychodrama, and authentic movement. He studied Sound Healing with innovators in the field of sacred sound and transformation of consciousness, such as Dr. John Beaulieu author of Music and Sound in the Healing Arts and Silvia Nakkach director of the Vox Mundi Project. In addition to this training, he has studied and practiced energy based healing forms such as Tai Chi, Chi Kung, Vipassana meditation, and Iyengar yoga for over 30 years. He earned his doctorate from the Union Institute and University in interdisciplinary studies with a concentration in Expressive Arts Therapy and transpersonal psychology. He has written about and presented his research on rhythmic attunement, improvisation, psychospiritual and community-based approaches to working with trauma and embodied states of consciousness at conferences nationally and internationally. He is the author of Attunement in Expressive Arts Therapy:  Toward an Understanding of Embodied Empathy. He is the Associate Editor of The Journal of Applied Arts and Health and Co-Chair of the Institute for Arts and Health at Lesley University. 

Mitchell Kossak is also a professional musician, performing for the past 30 years in the Boston area.

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 jason butler

Jason Butler

Professor of Drama Therapy, Department Chair of Graduate Expressive Therapies

Dr. Jason D. Butler  is a Registered Drama Therapist, Board Certified Trainer, and New York State Licensed Creative Arts Therapist. Jason is a former President of the North American Drama Therapy Association (NADTA) and previously served on the NADTA Board of Directors as President-Elect and Communications Chair. He is the editor-in-chief for  The Arts in Psychotherapy and the former training director for DvT Montreal, a satellite of the Institute for Developmental Transformations.

Prior to joining Lesley University, Jason was a professor in Creative Arts Therapy at Montreal's Concordia University, serving for a portion of that time as the graduate program director for drama therapy and a member of the Arts in Health Research Collective.   Jason is an internationally known drama therapist, having presented on drama therapy in many countries, including the Czech Republic, China, Hong Kong, South Africa, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. He has served as an adjunct faculty member at Lesley University and at New York University and was one of the first recipients of the NADTA Teaching Excellence Award in 2012. 

Prior to being a full-time professor, Jason was the director of Goddard Riverside Community Center’s The Other Place, a psycho-social program and drop-in center for homelessness and mental illness in New York City. Prior to finding drama therapy, he was a high school theatre teacher. His publications include articles and book chapters on drama therapy education, arts therapies pedagogy, schizophrenia, developmental transformations, and role theory. His current research includes an exploration of the drama therapy student experience as well as the application of drama therapy theory to experiential learning.

  • Low-Residency
  • Tuition $1,150/credit x 45 $51,750
  • Fees PhD Matriculation Fees $12,000 Registration Fee $40 Comprehensive Fee $1,125

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 in the Summer term.

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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..

phd creative arts therapy

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]

phd creative arts therapy

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

phd creative arts therapy

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Creative Arts Therapy Counseling

phd creative arts therapy

  • Graduate Programs

Be Licensure Ready in as Little as Two Years

Begin a rewarding career in art therapy with the CAAHEP-accredited Master of Arts (MA) in Creative Arts Therapy Counseling at Hofstra University. Our program features new and refined courses in ethics, diversity, aging and development, career counseling, and experiential learning, including a first-year practicum. Hofstra prepares you for licensure in New York State as a Creative Arts Therapist and as a registered and board-certified Art Therapist. Attend full-time and finish in as little as two years or attend part-time and complete the program in three years. No GRE is required, and scholarships are available for qualified candidates.

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phd creative arts therapy

Visit the Hofstra campus or connect with the graduate admission team. We will answer your questions and put you in touch with program faculty or degree candidates to learn more. Contact us at [email protected] , or call 516-463-4723.

To be considered for the MA in Creative Arts Therapy Counseling program, you must have completed an undergraduate degree from an accredited institution. You must demonstrate competency in art by presenting slides, original artwork, or a CD presentation; have 18 semester hours minimum in studio art, including drawing, painting, and 3D art; and 12 semester hours in psychology, including developmental and abnormal.

Start your application online where you can upload the following documents:

  • Transcripts from all previously attended colleges and universities. You may initially submit unofficial copies of your transcripts for your application review, but official transcripts will be required once you are accepted into the program.
  • Three letters of recommendation .
  • Personal statement describing your professional intent and pertinent background.
  • Personal interview with the program director.

Visit the creative arts therapy counseling program page to learn more.

The preferred application deadline for the fall semester is August 15 and for the spring semester is January 15. All others will be reviewed based on available space.

The MA in Creative Arts Therapy Counseling is awarded to students who successfully complete 60 hours of coursework.

Deepen your education by getting involved in professional art therapy and related organizations, including:

  • American Art Therapy Association (AATA)
  • Art Therapy Credential Board (ATCB)
  • Global Alliance for Arts and Health
  • International Expressive Arts Therapy Association (IEATA)
  • Global Art Therapy Resources
  • Creativity and Madness
  • Art Therapy : Journal of the American Art Therapy Association
  • The Arts in Psychotherapy
  • Arts & Health
  • The Canadian Art Therapy Association Journal
  • Journal of Creativity in Mental Health
  • Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts
  • School Counseling and Mental Health Counseling
  • Marriage and Family Therapy
  • Rehabilitation Counseling

Faculty Profiles

Morgan gaydos.

phd creative arts therapy

Morgan Gaydos, MA, LCAT, ATR-BC, serves as the Program Director for the graduate Creative Arts Therapy Counseling program at Hofstra University, in addition to teaching as an Adjunct Assistant Professor. Ms. Gaydos currently practices clinical art therapy on an inpatient child and adolescent behavioral health unit with a foundation in psychodynamic theories and mindfulness.

Deborah L. Elkis-Abuhoff

phd creative arts therapy

Dr. Deborah Elkis-Abuhoff, Associate Professor of Counseling and Mental Health Professions, holds both psychology and creative arts therapy licenses in New York state. Her research interests bring together behavioral medicine and creative arts therapy/medical art therapy, allowing her to bring diverse, up-to-date information to students. Her recent research includes the use of clay manipulation with individuals diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

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Creative Arts Therapies Explained: 18 Best Courses and Ideas

Creative Arts Therapies

In ancient Greece and Rome, participation in theater acts was “prescribed” for individuals with depression or anxiety.

Likewise, tribal communities around the globe have been using dance, music, and painting in healing for millennia (Degges-White, 2011).

If you’re interested in taking the next step in your career to become a creative arts therapist, look no further. In this article, we’ll give you a basic introduction to the field of creative arts therapies, recommend some training options, and point you toward our favorite resources you can use with your art therapy clients today.

Before you continue reading, we thought you might like to download our three Grief Exercises [PDF] for free . These science-based tools will help you move yourself or others through grief in a compassionate way.

This Article Contains:

What are creative arts therapies, a brief history of creative arts therapies, how to become a creative arts therapist, training options: 9 courses and degrees, 5 best online programs to consider, how to use creative arts in counseling, top 4 activities and ideas for your sessions, helpful resources from, a take-home message.

Creative arts therapies (CATs) involve

“the implementation of an arts intervention by a trained, credentialed creative arts therapist; the presence of a systematic psychotherapeutic process; and the use of individualized treatment interventions.”

Bradt & Goodill, 2013, p. 970

Like other therapies, CATs address patients’ specific therapeutic issues and include the phases of patient assessment , treatment, and evaluation. Further, CAT interventions can consist of a broad range of artistic practices, including (Bradt & Goodill, 2013):

  • Dance/movement
  • Expressive writing
  • Psychodrama

CAT differs from more general art-related healthcare practices in that CAT practitioners should be licensed and accredited.

Another difference is that more general art-related healthcare practices encompass a broad continuum of care, and the patient may play a more or less active role in the performance or creation of the art.

For instance, a performance put on by a group of artists for a patient would fall under the broader umbrella of general art-related healthcare but not be considered CAT, which centers around patient involvement as part of a targeted psychotherapeutic intervention.

Becoming an Arts Therapist

When did it begin?

Founded in 1855, St. Elizabeths Hospital’s Department of Behavioral Health in Washington, D.C., had pioneering campuses in the therapeutic fields of art, music, dance, bibliotherapy, and psychodrama, and is widely considered to be the birthplace of CAT.

Marian Chace, a dancer and therapist born in Rhode Island, believed that dance was a powerful medium through which humans could meet their essential need for communication and understanding (Winerman, 2005). She is recognized as one of the first to use dance to meet the needs of patients with severe mental health challenges, practicing at St. Elizabeths Hospital in the 1940s after observing the positive effects that movement could have on symptoms of trauma (Sandel, Chaiklin, & Lohn, 1993).

A key figure in the founding of the American Dance Therapy Association, Chace ultimately became the Association’s first president and has left a long legacy of dignity and compassion in her work.

Arleen Hynes, a librarian and bibliotherapist at St. Elizabeths, discovered that inviting her patients to relate to poems resulted in evocative and creative responses that expressed their inner lives (Winerman, 2005; Rossiter, 2004). She began focusing on literature that stimulated the imagination rather than on narratives and trained herself to conduct therapy with poetry (Lamb & Friday, 2006).

phd creative arts therapy

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The requirements for becoming a CAT will differ between countries and states.

The minimum qualifications for conducting any form of therapy involve different supervised internship hours and accreditation requirements.

To learn more, be sure to look at our dedicated article How to Become a Therapist: Requirements, Degrees, & Experience  or consider purchasing our in-depth guide, On Becoming a Therapist .

The standard pathway for becoming a CAT typically proceeds as follows (New York Health Careers, n.d.):

  • Complete a bachelor’s degree that includes coursework in both creative arts and psychopathology.
  • Complete a master’s degree in CAT from a registered/accredited program.
  • Complete a minimum number of supervised internship hours (e.g., in New York, this is 1,500 hours).
  • Undergo accreditation to practice therapy in your country or state.
  • Pass a CAT test/exam, such as the Art Therapy Credentials Board, the Certification Board for Music Therapists, or the New York State Case Narrative Exam.

Interested in being trained as a creative arts therapist? Here are some of the degree options around the world.

Bachelor’s degrees

The following bachelor’s programs are recommended entry points for learning about CAT. They do not fully prepare students for licensure or certification to practice CAT, as this requires a minimum of a master’s degree.

The University of Tampa – Bachelor of Arts in Art Therapy, USA


This BA program gives students a well-rounded introduction to the therapeutic arts, teaching its applications for working with a range of intrapsychic phenomena.

Particular applications include the use of arts for personal growth, rehabilitation, and self-awareness .

The program includes topics on the following art mediums:

  • Printmaking

You can learn more on the program’s website .

University of South Wales – Bachelor of Arts (Hons) Creative and Therapeutic Arts, Australia

South Wales

This bachelor’s program allows students to develop their future practice as a CAT in community and educational settings.

Across three years, students will learn innovative creative and therapeutic arts methods through art practice placements and theory-related skill building from leading experts.

Placement opportunities include those in community settings, such as women’s centers and children’s play therapy settings.

Find out more on the program’s website .

Ikon Institute of Australia – Bachelor of Arts Therapy, Australia


This undergraduate program gives students a broad knowledge of psychotherapy and therapeutic skills while emphasizing the processes of art therapy.

In particular, students will practice the artistic modes of:

  • Visual arts
  • Storytelling

For electives, students can choose topics including eco-psychotherapy, art and social action, indigenous approaches to health and wellbeing, and dreams and symbols.

Master’s degrees

The following is a sample of accredited master’s programs designed to prepare students for licensure and certification as a CAT.

Pratt Institute – Creative Arts Therapy Graduate Degrees, USA


New York’s Pratt Institute is a global leader in higher education, offering two accredited graduate degrees in CATs.

The Master of Professional Studies in Art Therapy and Creativity Development is an accredited 60-credit program synthesizing creative, aesthetic decision-making and psychotherapeutic practice and theory through experiential learning.

The Master of Science in Dance/Movement Therapy is structured similarly but emphasizes dance/movement as the means for therapeutic change based on the healing processes proposed by psychodynamic theory .

You can learn more about these programs on the institute’s website .

Leeds Beckett University – Master of Art Psychotherapy Practice, UK

Leeds Beckett

This program, run in partnership with Sheffield Health and Social Care NHS Foundation Trust, is designed to meet the national training criteria to practice and register as an art therapist or art psychotherapist in the United Kingdom.

Training focuses on developing students’ ability to deliver safe and effective care using visual art and image making. It also gives students access to work placements in a broad range of settings, including general hospitals, disability services, and forensics.

You can learn more on the program’s website or by viewing the program’s course overview .

University of Melbourne – Master of Creative Arts Therapy, Australia


This two-year degree program provides an overview of theories related to health treatment involving the arts, which can be applied in a range of contexts.

Students will learn about contemporary practices in the field of art therapy and explore the similarities, differences, and differing effects of various art forms.

Several Australian licensure bodies accredit the program for CAT and connect students with a broad range of placement opportunities.

You can learn more on the University of Melbourne’s website .

Doctoral programs

Note that the following doctoral programs are designed to help students pursue a nonclinical career or expand on other programs’ clinical licenses. They do not prepare graduates for clinical licensure or certification.

Saybrook University – PhD in Psychology: Creativity Studies Specialization, USA


In this doctoral program, students will discover the value of nurturing creativity to help achieve health and organizational outcomes.

In particular, students will learn to analyze and conduct psychological research while strengthening their skills to work in a range of public, private, and nonprofit sectors, such as the arts, health, consulting, and social transformation.

To learn more, visit the program’s website .

Florida State University – PhD or EdD in Art Education: Concentration in Art Therapy, USA


The art education PhD or EdD at Florida State teaches students the skills to make substantial academic contributions to the field of art therapy, with many of this program’s students making major contributions to the literature in faculties and colleges around the United States.

In particular, students of this program will gain the skills to teach, lead research teams, publish and present findings, engage in advanced clinical practice, and develop art therapy education programs.

To learn more, visit the program’s website or view the College of Fine Art’s handbook .

University of Haifa – School of Creative Arts Therapies Doctoral Programs, Israel


Israel’s School of Creative Arts Therapies at the University of Haifa offers creative arts therapy PhD programs with the following specializations:

  • Art therapy
  • Music therapy
  • Dance/movement therapy
  • Drama therapy

These programs are designed to train students in the skills to forward research in CAT, focusing on theory development, evidence-based practice , and basic and applied research.

You can learn more about these programs and get contact information by visiting the program’s website and downloading their information leaflet .

For even more programs and information, be sure to take a look at the American Art Therapy Association’s website .

If you’re looking to complete a university-level qualification in CAT, know that many programs have online or blended modes of instruction. To get the latest information on the availability of these online options, we recommend reaching out to advisors at your chosen college or university.

Edinboro University – Master of Arts in Counseling, USA


Edinboro University in Pennsylvania is one of the few universities worldwide offering a 100%-online master’s program in art counseling.

The program is accredited and provides students with a solid theoretical and practical foundation upon which to build your own art counseling practice.

Students are invited to select a practicum opportunity and internship in a specialty area of their choice in their local community. This course can also be taken as an abbreviated post-master’s certificate by those who already have a master’s in a related field and are looking to expand an existing skill set.

You can learn more about this program and its offerings on Edinboro University’s website .

Certificates and diplomas

If you’re looking to dip a toe in the field of creative arts therapy or expand an existing skill set, consider the following online training options:

  • College for Educational and Clinical Art Therapy (CECAT) Servicing over 30 countries via its online offerings, CECAT offers a range of certificates, diplomas, and introductory courses in English, German, Chinese, Spanish, Hindi, and Arabic.
  • Healing With the Arts ( available on Coursera ) The activities in this four-week course offered by the University of Florida draw on dance, visual arts, music, and writing to help students discover their inner artist and promote physical, spiritual, cognitive, and emotional healing within themselves.
  • Therapeutic Art Life Coach Certification ( available on Udemy ) With a focus on tools about releasing pain, finding meaning, and accessing intuition , this course supports licensed therapists and coaches looking for new tools and ideas to integrate into their practice.
  • Positive Psychology Art Coaching ( available on Udemy ) This course teaches coaching that supports children’s self-esteem , confidence, and wellbeing using arts and can be adapted for a combination of one-to-one and online group coaching sessions.

Just as the arts have taken hold in therapy, there are many avenues to apply the arts in counseling. Further, there are often many advantages to doing so.

Here are just a few ways you might use creative arts to support the clients of your counseling practice (Degges-White, 2011):

  • The arts are universal and can help a diversity of people across cultures and demographics.
  • Visual arts can aid people with limited verbal ability or in situations with language barriers.
  • Music therapy has been shown to benefit individuals with age-related diseases/disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Movement through dance can help people with physical disabilities stretch and gain mobility.
  • Expressive writing is accessible to people of different abilities through tools such as dictation and specialist keyboards.

Overall, creative arts can help counselors move beyond simply talking to discover innovative pathways to achieving a client’s goals.

For more useful resources, look at the books Integrating the Expressive Arts Into Counseling Practice by Suzanne Degges-White and Nancy Davis and The Creative Arts in Counseling by Samuel Gladding. Also check out our article Expressive Arts Therapy: 15 Creative Activities and Techniques which is specifically dedicated to Expressive Art Therapy.

Art as empowerment: the virtue of art therapy – Ann Lawton

For useful ideas for your next creative arts therapy session, consider the following free worksheets:

  • 3-Month Vision Board This worksheet encourages your clients to set three-month goals by drawing pictures of their ideal future in eight life domains.
  • Honesty: Why, How, and What As a learning exercise rather than a specific therapeutic intervention, this worksheet begins with a series of questions and reflections about honest versus dishonest behavior and concludes with an activity inviting children to illustrate their understanding of honesty by creating a poster.
  • Drawing Your Fears This exercise invites children to identify a scenario that is causing them anxiety and draw different ways the scenario might unfold to result in different outcomes.
  • Gratitude Gifts This activity invites children to reflect on things or people for which they are grateful. They are then asked to draw what they are grateful for in a series of gift boxes.

For even more ideas, be sure to check out our dedicated blog posts exploring therapy via the visual arts , movement , narrative , drama , and music.

For even more useful ideas, consider checking out the many resources available through the Positive Psychology Toolkit© . This toolkit contains over 400 carefully developed tools to support your therapy or counseling practice, with many templates centering on the creative arts.

Here, we illustrate one activity from this resource as an example of the way color and creativity can be used to strengthen understanding of links between the body and one’s emotions.

Visualizing the Bodily Experience of an Emotion

This exercise aims to increase emotional awareness by inviting clients to explore and draw their emotions in the body.

  • Materials Colored pencils, watercolor paints, crayons, or textas; blank silhouettes/outlines in the shape of a body, printed on sheets of paper.
  • Introduction Have you ever noticed that different emotions manifest differently and in different areas in your body? For example, when we are angry, we might feel heat rush to our heads, chest, and fists; when we are sad, we might feel a heaviness in the chest and tired all over. In this exercise, you will explore and draw where you feel your emotions in your body.
  • Activity Steps First, choose an emotion. This could be an emotion you have been struggling with recently or one you are experiencing presently, such as anxiety, anger, or happiness. Next, take two of the pieces of paper with the outline of a body. On one template, use the different colors and materials to represent which parts of the body feel most activated (i.e., sensations feel stronger or faster) when you are experiencing this emotion. On another template, indicate which parts of the body feel most deactivated (i.e., sensations feel weaker or slower) when experiencing this emotion.
  • Wrapping Up Complete the previous steps for any other emotions that you are curious about, pleasant or unpleasant. Doing so will allow you to become more aware of and familiar with your emotions and recognize them in your body when they arise.

For a done-for-you version of this activity, including facilitation instructions and printable templates, be sure to take a look at the Positive Psychology Toolkit© .

Additionally, if you’re looking for more science-based ways to help others enhance their wellbeing, check out this signature collection of 17 validated positive psychology tools for practitioners . Use them to help others flourish and thrive.

CAT is a well-established yet growing practice, and demand for therapists trained in CAT may well increase.

At the core of creative arts therapy is a focus on the act of creating art rather than the final product. By emphasizing this focus, practitioners can give clients opportunities for self-expression and discovery of unseen parts of themselves, making the shift to a creative medium or mode often worth it.

We hope this article has inspired you to consider a career in creative arts therapy or to begin integrating artistic practices into the care you provide. If you know of any other resources or avenues for training in this field, be sure to let us know in the comments – we’d love to hear from you.

We hope you enjoyed reading this article. Don’t forget to download our three Grief Exercises [PDF] for free .

  • Bradt, J., & Goodill, S. (2013). Creative arts therapies defined: Comment on “Effects of creative arts therapies on psychological symptoms and quality of life in patients with cancer”. JAMA Internal Medicine , 173 (11), 969–969.
  • Degges-White, S. (2011). Introduction to the use of expressive arts in counseling. In S. Degges-White & N. Davis (Eds.), Integrating the expressive arts into counseling practice (pp. 1–6). Springer.
  • Hynes, A., & Hynes-Berry, M. (2011). Biblio/poetry therapy: The interactive process: A handbook (3rd ed.). North Star Press.
  • Lamb, Y. S., & Friday, W. P. S. W. (2006, September 15). Arleen Hynes, 90: Bibliotherapy pioneer. The Washington Post .
  • New York Health Careers. (n.d.). Creative arts therapists . University at Albany, SUNY, School of Public Health. Retrieved from
  • Rossiter, C. (2004). Blessed and delighted: An interview with Arleen Hynes, poetry therapy pioneer. Journal of Poetry Therapy , 17 (4), 215–222.
  • Sandel, S., Chaiklin, S., & Lohn, A. (Eds.). (1993). Foundations of dance/movement therapy: The life and work of Marian Chace . American Dance Therapy Association.
  • Winerman, L. (2005). Express yourself! Psychologists are bringing creative arts therapies into the mainstream. Monitor on Psychology , 2 (36), 34–35.

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What our readers think.

Karis Anders

Unfortunately this profession is not regulated here in Australia. It is a good overview, however, it is disappointing to see undergraduate programs listed, which are expensive and are not the international minimum standard to become an art therapist, and that you have left out The University of Queensland’s (School of Medicine/Department of Psychiatry) Master of Mental Health-Art Therapy, which is a highly regarded post-graduate program.


Thank you Karis to mention the Mater Program of Mental Health-Art Therapy in your country. I agree with you that the overview is fine and a help to get informed about the differenct landscapes of trainings. I am dissapointed that the announcement of the free “Grief PDF” turned out to be a salary promotion. I would not have given my email for that. Giving my email was a “thank you” to for getting more newsletter suscribers and potential users

Annelé Venter

Good day Freda,

My apologies in advance should have accidentaly received incorrect worksheets. Could you please verify whether the three free grief worksheets included the ‘Drawing Grief Tool’, ‘Objects of Connection’ and the ‘Prescription to Grieve Tool’? Which worksheet did you perceive as a salary promotion?

I will definitely look into this upon your feedback.

Annelé Venter Publisher

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phd creative arts therapy

Cathy Malchiodi PhD, LPCC, LPAT, ATR-BC, REAT

Creative Arts Therapy and Expressive Arts Therapy

Here is a basic guide to creative, brain-wise approaches to therapy..

Posted June 30, 2014 | Reviewed by Ekua Hagan

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Creative interventions have been formalized through the disciplines of art therapy, music therapy, dance/movement therapy, drama therapy or psychodrama, poetry therapy, and play therapy, including sandtray therapy. Each discipline has been applied in psychotherapy and counseling with individuals of all ages, particularly children, for more than 70 years.

Art, music, dance, drama, and poetry therapies are referred to as “creative arts therapies” because of their roots in the arts and theories of creativity . These therapies and others that utilize self-expression in treatment are also called “expressive therapies” (Malchiodi, 2005; 2013; 2014).

Expressive arts therapies are defined as the use of art, music, drama, dance/movement, poetry/creative writing, bibliotherapy, play, and sandplay within the context of psychotherapy, counseling, rehabilitation, or medicine. Additionally, expressive therapies are sometimes referred to as “integrative” when various arts are purposively used in combination in treatment.

Individual approaches to creative arts therapy are defined as follows:

Art therapy is the purposeful use of visual arts materials and media in intervention, counseling, psychotherapy, and rehabilitation; it is used with individuals of all ages, families, and groups (Edwards, 2004; Malchiodi, 2012).

Music therapy is the prescribed use of music to effect positive changes in the psychological, physical, cognitive, or social functioning of individuals with health or educational problems (American Music Therapy Association, 2014; Wheeler, 2014).

Drama therapy is the systematic and intentional use of drama/theater processes, products, and associations to achieve the therapeutic goals of symptom relief, emotional and physical integration, and personal growth. It is an active approach that helps the client tell his or her story to solve a problem, achieve catharsis, extend the depth and breadth of his or her inner experience, understand the meaning of images, and strengthen his or her ability to observe personal roles while increasing flexibility between roles (National Association for Drama Therapy, 2014).

Dance/movement therapy is based on the assumption that body and mind are interrelated and is defined as the psychotherapeutic use of movement as a process that furthers the emotional, cognitive, and physical integration of the individual. Dance/movement therapy effects changes in feelings, cognition , physical functioning, and behavior (American Dance Therapy Association, 2014).

Poetry therapy and bibliotherapy are terms used synonymously to describe the intentional use of poetry and other forms of literature for healing and personal growth.

Play therapy is the systematic use of a theoretical model to establish an interpersonal process wherein trained play therapists use the therapeutic powers of play to help clients prevent or resolve psychosocial difficulties and achieve optimal growth and development (Crenshaw & Stewart, 2014; Webb, 2007).

Sandplay therapy is a creative form of psychotherapy that uses a sandbox and a large collection of miniatures to enable a client to explore the deeper layers of his or her psyche in a totally new format; by constructing a series of “sand pictures,” a client is helped to illustrate and integrate his or her psychological condition.

Integrative approaches involve two or more expressive therapies to foster awareness, encourage emotional growth, and enhance relationships with others. This approach distinguishes itself by combining modalities within a therapy session. Integrative approaches are based on a variety of orientations, including arts as therapy, arts psychotherapy, and the use of arts for traditional healing (Estrella, 2005; Knill, Levine, & Levine, 2005).

While some practitioners define art, dance/movement, music, or drama therapies as play therapies, creative arts therapies and expressive therapies are not merely subsets of play therapy and have a long history in mental health with distinct approaches. While the arts may sometimes be a form of play, encouraging individuals to express themselves through a painting, music, or dance involves an understanding of the media beyond the scope of play. In brief, the arts therapies are different from play therapy because they integrate knowledge of art with principles of psychotherapy and related fields.

The 1926 St. Louis Cardinals one their first of 11 World Series titles, defeating the New York Yankees. For most baseball fans, nostalgia tied to this event would be historical nostalgia - an appreciation for a distant-yet-self-referential past.

In addition to the disciplines and approaches mentioned above, many therapists integrate activities that enhance relaxation as part of trauma intervention. Relaxation techniques often include creative components such as music, movement, or art-making. For example, guided imagery or visualization , meditation , yoga, and other methods of stress reduction are also used with individuals who have experienced trauma or loss.

Finally, art, music, and dance/movement therapies and other creative interventions such as play have sometimes been incorrectly labeled as “nonverbal” therapies. They are both verbal and nonverbal because verbal communication of thoughts and feelings is a central part of therapy in most situations. In fact, most therapists who use these methods integrate them within a psychotherapy approach, including but not limited to psychodynamic, humanistic, cognitive, developmental, systems, narrative, solution-focused, and others.

There are also creative interventions that specifically focus on verbal communication and self-expression as part of treatment, such as drama therapy, creative writing, and poetry therapy, and bibliotherapy. In all cases, these approaches are "brain- wise " interventions that stimulate whole-brain responses to help individuals of all ages experience reparation, recovery and well-being.

Cathy Malchiodi , PhD, LPCC, LPAT, ATR-BC, REAT

© 2014 Cathy Malchiodi, PhD

American Dance Therapy Association. (2007). What is dance therapy?

American Music Therapy Association. (2014). Music therapy makes a difference: What is music therapy?

Crenshaw, D., & Stewart, A. (eds.). (2014). A Comprehensive Guide to Play therapy. New York: Guilford Press.

Estrella, K. (2005). Expressive therapy: An integrated arts approach. In C. A. Malchiodi (Ed.), Expressive therapies (pp. 183–209). New York: Guilford Press.

Knill, P., Levine, E., & Levine, S. (2005). Principles and practice of expressive arts therapy: Towards a therapeutic aesthetics. London, UK: Jessica Kingsley.

Malchiodi, C. A. (2005). Expressive therapies. New York: Guilford Press.

Malchiodi, C.A. (Ed.). (2013). Art therapy and healthcare . New York: Guilford Press.

Malchiodi, C.A. (2014). Creative arts therapy approaches to attachment issues. In C. Malchiodi & D. Crenshaw (Eds.), Creative Arts and Play Therapy for Attachment Problems (pp. 3-18). New York: Guilford Press.

National Association for Drama Therapy. (2007). Frequently asked questions about drama therapy: What is drama therapy?

Webb, N. B. (Ed). (2007). Play therapy with children in crisis: Individual, group, and family treatment (3rd ed.). New York: Guilford Press.

Wheeler, B. (2015). Music therapy handbook . New York: Guilford Press.

Cathy Malchiodi PhD, LPCC, LPAT, ATR-BC, REAT

Cathy Malchiodi, Ph.D. , is a psychologist, expressive arts therapist, trauma specialist, and author of 20 books, including Trauma and Expressive Arts Therapy: Brain, Body, and Imagination in the Healing Process.

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The NYU Creative Arts Therapies Consortium Doctoral Research Alliance

International Research Alliance

The NYU Creative Arts Therapies Consortium leads an international research alliance of seven universities to advance research on the health benefits of the arts across the lifespan in diverse contexts. The mission of the alliance is to collaborate on research on the arts and arts therapies and support new researchers in the field. The alliance is a regular research contributor to the World Health Organization's Arts & Health program .

Chair : Prof. Nisha Sajnani, PhD

Collaborating Partners:

Prof. Nisha Sajnani, NYU, Steinhardt, NYU Creative Arts Therapies Consortium and International Research Alliance, USA

Prof. Joke Bradt, Drexel University, PhD Program in Creative Arts Therapies, College of Nursing and Health Professions, Philadelphia, USA

Prof Vicky Karkou, Research Centre for Arts and Wellbeing, Faculty of Health, Social Care and Medicine, Edge Hill University, Ormskirk, UK

Prof. Jason Butler, PhD Program in Expressive Therapies, Lesley University, USA

Prof. Sabine Koch, SRH University Heidelberg, Department of Creative Arts Therapies, Faculty of Therapy Sciences, Heidelberg, Germany/ Alanus University Alfter, Research Institute for Creative Arts Therapies (RIArT), Alfter/Bonn, Germany

Prof. Hod Orkibi, University of Haifa, School of Creative Arts Therapies, Faculty of Social Welfare and Health Sciences, Israel

Prof. Felicity Baker, University of Melbourne, Creative Arts Therapies Research Unit (CATRU), Australia

For all inquiries:  [email protected]

Cathy Malchiodi, PhD, LPCC, LPAT, ATR-BC, REAT

The Body Holds the Healing

Expressive Arts Therapy and Integrative Somatosensory Psychotherapy in Trauma Healing and Recovery

phd creative arts therapy

"Neurobiology has taught us that we need to “come to our senses” in developing effective components for addressing trauma... Expressive arts therapy releases the potential of the senses to “tell the story” of traumatic experiences via nonverbal, implicit forms of communication."

"Expressive arts help people discover just what forms of expression will be self-regulating, communicate their experiences in reparative ways, imagine restorative narratives, and ultimately support recovery."

"The expressive arts have a unique role in restoring a sense of vitality and joy in traumatized individuals because aliveness is not something we can be “talked into.” Instead, it is experienced in both mind and body and particularly on a somatosensory level."  

Cathy Malchiodi, PhD

Cathy Malchiodi, PhD, LPCC, LPAT, ATR-BC, REAT  holds a doctorate in psychology and is an expressive arts therapist specializing in the treatment of traumatic stress. For the last three decades Cathy has worked with traumatized children, adolescents, adults, and families, expanding the range of understanding of non-verbal, sensory-based concepts and methods. She is the executive director of the Trauma-Informed Practices and Expressive Arts Therapy Institute that has provided online and live training in expressive and somatosensory approaches to over 35,000 practitioners around the world.

Cathy is the 2022 Cecil and Eda Green Honors Chair on trauma and expressive arts and is an investigator in a 3.7-million-dollar, five-year grant with the US Department of Education, integrating expressive arts therapy into classrooms.  A popular presenter and workshop leader, she given over 700 invited keynotes and workshops throughout the US, Canada, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and Australia. She has authored 20 books, including the bestselling Trauma and Expressive Arts Therapy: Brain, Body, and Imagination in the Healing Process and Understanding Children’s Drawings . Her publications have been translated in over 20 languages.

Dr. Malchiodi has extensive experience in the areas of trauma, attachment, disaster relief, and adversity. She has assisted more than 500 agencies, organizations, and institutions in developing trauma-informed, expressive, and responsive programming including the World Health Organization, United Nations, Department of Defense, Kennedy Center, Harvard, MIT, Johns Hopkins, and numerous universities, mental health, community, and healthcare agencies in the US and throughout the world. Widely interviewed by a variety of news outlets, she has been featured Time Magazine, CNN, Cosmopolitan, Natural Living, Marie Clare, Australia Childhood Foundation, US News and World Report, and VICE, among others. She is a contributing writer for Psychology Today and has a readership of approximately 5.8 million on topics relevant to trauma recovery and restoration of the self, arts in healthcare and mental health, and self-care.

To book a keynote, presentation, workshop, or training, please contact us via the Contact page.

The Body Holds the Healing by Cathy Malchiodi, PhD on Psychology Today December 29, 2022

The Body Holds the Healing (Malchiodi, 2022).

In contemporary  psychotherapy , the term embodiment has taken on a slightly different meaning.  Many therapists are now familiar with the idea that the “body keeps the score” (van der Kolk, 1994; 2014). “Our issues are in our tissues” (author unknown) is another phrase often used by somatic educators and body-based practitioners (yoga, massage, and others) to describe the importance of physical awareness.

These ideas influenced the definition of embodiment and what has become known as  embodied practices , particularly within the field of  traumatic   stress .  These practices underscore the importance of observing and noticing one’s internal felt sense . Embodiment implies that the central focus for emotional repair, transformation, and recovery is through becoming aware of our physical being through the senses. It is a way to include the body as a focus for health and well-being through self-appreciation and self-acceptance of what we physically sense and feel in the moment (Malchiodi, 2020).

This perspective also proposes that embodiment is not just a one-time event but is an ongoing practice of establishing a relationship with one’s body. It involves various mind-body awareness approaches (see Somatic Experiencing® or the fields of expressive arts therapy or dance/movement, for example) to sustain   attention   to how one’s body responds and feels in the present moment. Read more here...


phd creative arts therapy

From The Trauma Therapist Newsletter: " Cathy is one of those forces of nature within the field of trauma and Expressive Arts. So much so that she's not only our "cover" therapist, she's also representing out Modality section. Here's Cathy in her own words: ' As a psychologist and expressive arts therapist who works with trauma and grief recovery, my goal is to help individuals, groups, and communities resource implicit forms of communication for repair and healing. Words are not always available when we embody narratives of suffering, shame, guilt, and loss, either on an individual level or a collective one.

Fortunately, as humans we all have the ability to access ways to communicate and transform distress, trauma, and loss and in uniquely powerful, yet simple ways. These approaches include deceptively simple pathways to healing -- restorative movements, soothing sounds and rhythms, image making, enactment and improvisation, and sensory integration to support body, mind, and spirit. When used in combination—the essence of expressive arts therapy—these universal practices tap deeply embodied sources of health and well-being.'


Cathy Malchiodi on CNN

New film on why rhythm is foundational to secure attachment and social connection

Expressive and sensory-based approaches are not "activities therapy"-- they are approaches grounded in trauma research and best practices. Current studies in the field of psychological trauma underscore that sensory processing is foundational to supporting survivors in recovering body awareness. This "bottom-up" approach is one way to address a lack of words to express internal (interoception) when traumatic stress disrupts cognitive and somatic perceptions. Enjoy this recent film and lecture with Dr. Cathy Malchiodi.

Learn More About the Circle of Capacity Model

The Circle of Capacity Model (Malchiodi, 2021, 2022); all rights reserved Cathy Malchiodi PhD

Circle of Capacity-- Model for Trauma Intervention | Cathy Malchiodi, PhD

What if increasing capacity became the dominant objective rather than simply expanding the ability to tolerate distressful reactions? As an expressive and experiential practitioner, I see trauma repair and recovery through the exploration and discovery of capabilities in contrast to simply widening a window of tolerance. The self is not necessarily restored through increasing the ability to tolerate reactions, but through supporting tangible, sensory, and somatic experiences of efficacy, resourcing, and  resilience .

This is a transformation felt in the body as the capacity for action, empowerment, mastery, and  confidence  when encountering distress and disruptive events. In other words, expanding tolerance may help an individual more effectively cope with distressing reactions. But in order to truly repair and recover, expanding capacity involves something beyond enduring and coping. It requires identifying and practicing experiences that begin to replace hyperactivation and/or hypoarousal in body and mind.

You can read more about this model at Psychology Today where Dr. Malchiodi is a Contributing Writer at this link

phd creative arts therapy

Join Our Certificate Trauma-Informed Expressive Arts Therapy Trainings Online!

Our Learning Center provides continuing education courses for psychotherapists and counselors who want to add expressive methods to their practices; for coaches and educators who want to learn more about how to include the healing arts in their work; and body-based practitioners who want to combine somatic approaches with additional knowledge in expressive arts. You can complete Level One or Level Two Certificates through online coursework or live webinars. Or you can complete our course sequences to achieve the EXAT [Expressive Arts Therapist, Trauma-Informed] for psychotherapists and mental health professionals or the EXA-CE for those practicing as coaches, educators, facilitators, or body-based practitioners. Please visit our Learning Center or the Trauma-Informed Practices and Expressive Arts Therapy Institute for more information.

Trauma-Informed Expressive Arts Therapy

Cathy Malchiodi PhD plus Trauma-Informed Expressive Arts Therapy Level One Graduates

Trauma-Informed Expressive Arts Therapy and  Trauma-Informed Art Therapy®  are approaches developed in 2011 by Dr. Cathy Malchiodi that integrate trauma-informed practices, "brain-wise," body-based expressive arts approaches. They facilitate self-regulation and co-regulation; an embodied sense of safety; reparative relationships; and communication of implicit and body-based experiences. To learn more about these psychotherapeutic approaches, please visit the Trauma-Informed Practices and Expressive Arts Therapy Institute for online courses, certificate programs and trainings throughout the US and the world [see   Trauma-Informed Practices and Expressive Arts Therapy Institute website ].  The Institute offers professional development and continuing education  for mental health professionals and master's and doctoral students and emphasizes integrative methods and current research in expressive arts, creative arts therapies, and trauma-informed care and complements somatic, sensory integration and neurobiology-informed methods of trauma intervention. Expressive arts therapy is the purposeful use of multiple arts forms to support individuals' trauma recovery  The Institute supports a vision for advanced understanding and education in these methods of psychotherapy and promotes the value of these approaches as complementary to trauma-informed care, psychotherapy and wellness practices.

HEALING THE MIND WITH THE IMAGINATION: BEYOND THEORY. View or listen to Season 2, Episode 11: After experiencing trauma, it can be challenging to start talking about what happened. But one way to overcome that is to find other ways to express yourself. So as an art therapist, how does Dr. Cathy Malchiodi use color, sound, and movement to help people tell their stories and start to heal?

Cathy Malchiodi

Articles and Interviews

Cathy Malchiodi with Media in Beijing China

Psychotherapy Networker , March/April 2018, Ryan Howes, PhD : "To bring myself up to date, I reached out to Cathy Malchiodi, a Kentucky-based art therapist and author of more than 20 books on the topic, including The Art Therapy Sourcebook and the recently released,  What to Do When Children Clam Up in Psychotherapy . As president of Art Therapy Without Borders and founder of The Trauma Informed Practices and Expressive Arts Therapy Institute, Malchiodi has her finger on the pulse of the profession and is at the forefront of a growing movement to treat returning combat veterans with art and expressive art therapy." See this link for the rest of the interview. , Rebecca Bloom : Dr. Malchiodi's interview with Slate on "The Devil Is in the Doodles." Pop culture is full of kids who reveal their inner demons by drawing creepy pictures. Does that happen in real life? To read more, see this link .

Kindling the Spark: The Healing Powers of the Expressive Arts in Psychotherapy Networker, March/April 2019 . This article will give you an overview of how the expressive arts are integrated within the context of psychotherapy.

A 2020 Vision for Expressive Arts Therapy . On Psychology Today , an article by Dr. Malchiodi about expressive arts therapy. "By definition, expressive arts therapy is a field of practice that emerged in the latter part of the 20th century. In contrast to individual applications of specific art forms [visual art, music, dance, drama] in psychotherapy, expressive arts therapy is understood as the use of more than one art form, consecutively or in combination and depending on individual or group goals. In other words, one art form may dominate or multiple forms may be introduced in work with a child, adult, family, or group."

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  • Game Design and Interactive Media, AOS
  • Graphic Design, AOS
  • Illustration, AOS
  • Graphic Design/Illustration, AAS
  • Painting/Drawing, AAS

Creative Arts Therapy

  • Art Therapy and Creativity Development, MPS
  • Art Therapy and Creativity Development, MPS, Low Residency Program
  • Dance/Movement Therapy, MS
  • Dance/Movement Therapy, MS, Low Residency Program

Creative Enterprise Leadership

  • Arts and Cultural Management, MPS
  • Design Management, MPS

Digital Arts and Animation

  • Digital Arts, BFA (Emphasis in 2-D Animation)
  • Digital Arts, BFA (Emphasis in 3-D Animation and Motion Arts)
  • Digital Arts, BFA (Emphasis in Art & Technology/formerly Interactive Arts)
  • Game Arts, BFA
  • Digital Arts, MFA (3-D Animation and Motion Arts Concentration)
  • Digital Arts, MFA (Interactive Arts Concentration)
  • Fine Arts, BFA
  • Fine Arts, MFA


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  • School of Art >
  • Creative Arts Therapy >

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Art Therapy at Pratt

Creative, aesthetic, and psychotherapeutic theory come together in everything we do. Artwork is done in every course and is used to learn a range of therapeutic skills. Experiential processes translate the theoretical framework into personal and practical application. You’ll focus on a variety of populations over the course of two years of clinical training.

The Experience

The MPS in Art Therapy and Creativity Development is a 60-credit program for students who want a diverse skill set, balanced with a strong theoretical framework. Interdisciplinary, socially engaged, and justice-driven, our Creative Arts Therapy community is connected by a shared mission for transformative change. Pratt’s Art Therapy program can be completed in 4 semesters of full-time study. All courses are offered on the Pratt Brooklyn campus.


We believe creative and clinical practices are best developed together, each informing and improving the other. Internships are a vital part of the hallmark experiential learning process. Much of the coursework draws directly from clinical experiences and processing of client material. Students complete internship experiences in an array of site placements, including inpatient hospitals, community mental health agencies, and school-based settings, among others.

The mission of the Creative Arts Therapy Department at Pratt Institute is to provide the highest level of clinical training in art and dance/movement therapy, preparing graduates to work effectively with people from diverse communities. Our unique teaching philosophy is based on a combination of personal experience, didactic learning, and practical application, and is rooted in the primacy of creative process and psychodynamic theory. We offer an integration of historical perspectives and current andragogy, leading to applications of practice in a variety of settings. The program combines the power of non-verbal communication, artistic process, and embodied creative action. Our students develop self-awareness and recognition of their unique attributes through experiential learning. They acquire an increased sense of self and resiliency, which is translated to their work as creative arts therapists.

Student Learning Outcomes

  • Students will be able to identify and utilize their own internal processes in service of therapeutic interventions.
  • Students will comprehend and apply creative and aesthetic processes in the context of creative arts therapy theory and practice.
  • Students will be able to establish a therapeutic relationship using imagery, movement, symbolization, and verbalization; and recognize shifts within that developing relationship.
  • Students will be able to demonstrate knowledge of psychodynamic theory within the context of creative arts therapy practice in the service of diagnosis, treatment, and ongoing evaluation.
  • Students will be able to articulate clinical theory and applied practice through writing, research, oral presentation, and professional advocacy across broad interdisciplinary communities.  
  • Students will be able to apply ethical and professional codes of practice as they apply to clinical practices, communities, and self.
  • Students will be able to understand the intersectionality of power, privilege, and oppression as they apply to clinical practices, communities and self.

Our Faculty

Alongside their teaching roles, our faculty are accomplished artists who integrate creative and clinical practices every day in their work. See all Creative Arts Therapy faculty and administrators .

Students in Action

Impacts of Baking as Art Therapy on Stress and Anxiety in Adults

Impacts of Baking as Art Therapy on Stress and Anxiety in Adults

Connection in Isolation

Connection in Isolation

Success Stories

Response art by Felicia Moholland

Using Art and Dance to Promote Healing in Internships at Rikers Island and Providence House

Move First

Prattfolio Story

Abstract bursts of red on the left and blue, yellow, and orange on the right meet in a colorful bolt that extends across a textured black and white background

The Art of Holding

phd creative arts therapy

Educating for the Future: Creative Arts Therapy Chair Julie Miller

phd creative arts therapy

How We Lead: Drena Fagen, MPS Art Therapy ’02, and Nadia Jenefsky, MPS Art Therapy ’99

Ready for more.


School of Art Pratt Institute


phd creative arts therapy

From the Catalog

Sample courses.

  • ADT-630 Clinical Diagnosis, Assessment and Treatment 3 credits
  • ADT-632 Research and Thesis 3 credits
  • ADT-635 Art Therapy Open Studio 3 credits
  • ADT-640 Development Of Personality I 3 credits
  • ADT-641 Creative Arts Therapy I 3 credits

Program Overview

The program’s structure.

Both the MPS in Art Therapy and Creativity Development and MS in Dance/Movement Therapy Master’s are 60-credit programs providing a synthesis of creative, aesthetic, and psychotherapeutic theory. Courses offer a thorough theoretical framework that is translated into personal and practical application through an experiential process. Artwork and/or movement is done in every course and is used to learn therapeutic skills. Students focus on a wide variety of populations and are required to work with a different population for each of the two years of fieldwork/internship/practicum. Both programs are for students who want a broad body of skills, balanced with a strong theoretical framework. 


The academic year format offers classes in a traditional manner, with classes in fall and spring semesters, for 15 weeks each semester.  The cycle of classes is as follows: students take courses and fieldwork/practicum/internship from September through May for two consecutive years.  Students in the low residency format are admitted for the spring semester only.

phd creative arts therapy

Russian Institute of Theatre Arts

Gitis is the largest and oldest independent theatrical arts school in russia, founded in 1878. we train students in various disciplines and provide a combination of traditional university education and innovative up-to-date methods. more than 1500 students from various countries study at the school. gitis is proud to be a direct heir of the famous stanislavski’s system..

phd creative arts therapy

GITIS’s main building is located in the center of Moscow, just a short walk from Arbatskaya Metro station.

All new students of the Institute immediately find themselves in the center of the capital’s creative scene: Tchaikovsky Conservatory and Mayakovsky Theater are located nearby, and the city can offer hundreds of museums, around 170 theaters and a variety of sites and landmarks worth seeing with your own eyes.

Moscow famous sight­seeing

These names usually become familiar to people even before they come to Russia’s capital: the Red Square, the Bolshoi Theatre, Moscow City and Ostankino Tower are famous across the world.

The Kremlin which has historically been the center of the growing Moscow is a characteristic symbol of its era. The Bolshoi Theatre is famous for its triumphant world tours and the outline of its monumental building is familiar to many people outside Russia. In Moscow City you can take the tallest elevator in Europe, and in Ostankino Tower you can dine in a restaurant located 100 floors off the ground.

Moscow night­life

In the evening the city’s night clubs open their doors as the capital transitions to night life.

World-famous artists and rising underground stars perform in clubs and there is always something for every taste: in Gazgolder you can dance to the beats of popular techno and house DJs, in 16 Tons you can listen to true rock and if you enjoy jazz, Alexey Kozlov Club is the place for you.

Whatever your taste in music may be, you can always count on having a great time enjoying quality sound and ambience.

Moscow culture

Today, Moscow offers over 450 museums meaning that if you spend only an hour in each, visiting them all will require almost two months of full-time museum going. Of course, there probably isn’t a person who has seen them all.

After all, people choose according to their interests: admirers of classical painting go to the Tretyakov Gallery, lovers of history and archeology visit the State Historical Museum and connoisseurs of contemporary art spend their time in Garage and MARS.

Moscow walking

Walking through the streets of Moscow, it is easy to see how the city’s architecture changed with time. For example, on one end of the Shelepihinsky Bridge is the Church of the Intercession in Fili built in the 17th century baroque style, while the other end is dwarfed by ultramodern 50-storey skyscrapers.

Moscow can offer quiet streets for pensive walks as well as busy highways, cafés with cozy terraces and top-floor restaurants, boulevards that remind of Esenin’s poems and industrial districts matching Pelevin’s postmodernism.

Stories of success

Jerzy grotowsky.

Polish theatre director who developed a ‘poor theatre’ concept and became one of the theorists of modern theatre arts. In 1956 he finished post-graduate studies at GITIS directing department where he studied acting methods of Stanislavsky, Vakhtangov and Meyerkhold. Grotowski was Doctor honoris causa at the universities of Bologna, Pittsburg, Chicago, California and Wroclaw.

Andrey Zvyagintsev

Russian film director, screenwriter, and actor who studied at GITIS acting department in Evgeniy Lazarev theatre workshop. In 2003 Zvyazintsev won Golden Lion at Venice Film Festival for his film The Return and in 2014 his Leviathan won Best screenplay award at Cannes Film Festival. Leviathan and director’s other film, Loveless, were also nominated for Oscars.

Anatoliy Vasilyev

Russian director and teacher who created Dramatic Art School based on a ‘laboratory — school — theatre’ creative model. With his first degree in chemistry and second one in directing, Vasilyev focused on the opportunity of creative experiments. After graduating from GITIS he returned there to teach directing. He received several Russian awards for his works, became a chevalier and thereafter a commandeur of French Order of Arts and Letters.

We honor our traditions, respect all existing methods and constantly break the rules to invent new approaches.

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Moscow, Idaho

Arts & Entertainment

We have performing arts theaters in historic venues. We have dozens of museums and galleries filled with original ideas. We have one of the most-beloved jazz festivals in the nation. It’s part and parcel for a city that attracts people who naturally think outside the box.

1912 Center

412 E. Third St. Moscow, ID 83843

(208) 669-2249

Appaloosa Horse Museum

2720 Pullman Rd, Moscow, ID 83843, USA

(208) 882-5578

Artisans at the Dahmen Barn, Uniontown

419 N Pkwy, Uniontown, WA 99179, USA

(509) 229-3414

Charles R. Conner Museum, WSU

Charles R. Conner Museum is one of the most popular of the several museums housed on the campus of Washington State University in Pullman. Conner Museum’s public exhibit has the largest display of taxidermy mounts of birds and mammals in the Pacific Northwest. WSU Campus, Pullman, 509-335-3515. Open 7 days/week 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.

125 Abelson Hall, WSU, Pullman, WA

(509) 335-3515

Hartung Theater

875 Perimeter Drive, Moscow, ID 83844, USA

(208) 885-6111

Kenworthy Performing Arts Center

Join the Kenworthy for everyone’s favorite summer tradition! The Saturday Market Cartoons are every Saturday, June through September from 9AM to noon.

508 S Main St, Moscow, ID 83843, USA

(208) 882-4127

Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival

Since the 1960s, the University of Idaho Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival is one of the largest and oldest educational jazz festivals in the world. With over 400 student performances, a dozen world-class jazz artists and nearly 100 workshops, clinics and special exhibits, the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival honors the music, dance and history of jazz music and one of its most honored artists, Lionel Hampton. February 28-29. 2020

Moscow, ID, USA

(208) 885-5900

McConnell Mansion

110 S Adams St, Moscow, ID 83843, USA

(208) 882-1004

Moscow Contemporary

414 S Main St, Moscow, ID 83843, USA

Moscow Wild At Art

118 E 3rd St, Moscow, ID, USA

(208) 669-2425

Rendezvous in the Park

East City Park, Moscow, ID, USA

Third Street Gallery

206 W 3rd St, Moscow, ID 83843, USA

(208) 883-7036

Washington State University Museum of Art

7301, 1535 Wilson Rd, Pullman, WA

(509) 335-1910

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