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Art Therapy and Counseling Program

A History of Tradition and Innovation

ArtThe Art Therapy program was founded in 1967 at Hahnemann Medical College and Hospital. It was the first program in the world to offer graduate-level art therapy education.

Students create their own art in response to their personal journey through the program as well as their experiences within art therapy sessions.

One of the distinctive features of this program is that it is housed within an academic health professions environment while also maintaining an affiliation with a school of fine arts.  This marriage of health sciences and the arts provides both the learning atmosphere and the depth of resources highly conducive to quality art therapy education.

A Dynamic Learning Culture: Program Philosophy and Curriculum

The Art Therapy curriculum is a synthesis of multiple dynamic and interactive educational components. The curriculum content and teaching methods in this program form a rich texture of integrated and interdisciplinary learning. These interactive educational components include theory, practice/clinical, artistic experientials, intersubjective experience,  clinical supervision, and research.

The curriculum integrates knowledge of art psychotherapy with current theoretical and practical approaches to assessment, and treatment in such fields as mental health, medicine, and education. The curriculum includes an interaction between theoretical learning, artistic learning, clinical fieldwork and clinical supervision that occur simultaneously and dynamically throughout the  education. These interactive components provide a foundation  for the development of an understanding  of the complex interaction that occurs in the art therapy process between the therapist, the patient/client, and the art process.  Theory and clinical practice as combined with individual and group supervision  assist the student in integrating theory and  applying it to art therapy practice.  Through this dynamic and multi-dimensional learning process, the students develop a clear understanding of  the significant role that imagination and empathy for the patient plays in art therapy  as their  skills in eliciting the art-making process and verbal responses in an art therapy session emerge. The students also learn about themselves and the role that their cognitive and emotional reactions play in the relationship between themselves, as art therapists, and the patient/client.

The students learn how to apply the theory of art therapy in various treatment situations. Working with specified treatment objectives, students learn to combine art therapy theory and practice with psychodynamic and psychotherapeutic technique. They can work with individuals and/or groups using the theoretical and clinical education they have received. This integrated approach provides a comprehensive foundation for sound clinical work with many different clinical and culturally diverse populations.

hands and crayons

Program components:

  • Advanced education in the theoretical and clinical foundations of art psychotherapy.
  • Supervised adult, adolescent, and child clinical placements in psychiatric, medical, forensic and educational facilities throughout the local geographic area.
  • Emphasis upon the study of emergent art making within the context of the therapeutic relationship.
  • Extensive exposure to current psychological, developmental, psychotherapy, and art therapy theory and practice.
  • Integration with students of other creative arts therapies while helping each art therapy student develop a strong identity as an art therapist.
  • Master’s thesis research project guided by a chosen multidisciplinary committee.
  • Experiential art making processes integrated with theoretical, clinical and self-exploratory learning.
  • State of the art studio and educational facility.