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Creative Arts Therapies Department

Innovative Courses Taught By Field Leaders

Internationally recognized faculty train culturally aware and culturally sensitive therapists dedicated to serving a diverse client base.

Creative Arts Therapies Department

Innovative Courses Taught By Field Leaders

Internationally recognized faculty train culturally aware and culturally sensitive therapists dedicated to serving a diverse client base.

Creative Arts Therapies Department

Innovative Courses Taught By Field Leaders

Internationally recognized faculty train culturally aware and culturally sensitive therapists dedicated to serving a diverse client base.

Creative Arts Therapies Department

The Department of Creative Arts Therapies provides students with the most comprehensive and the highest-quality education in their respective creative arts therapy discipline.

Through an integrated blend of classroom, experiential and practical learning in the field, students learn side-by-side with future colleagues in the other creative arts therapy specialties.

Program courses are taught by faculty that are national leaders in their respective fields. Students take advantage of Philadelphia’s lively arts community, which nourishes the artist, dancer and musician within and enables you to continue practicing your art form while pursuing graduate study.

The Department and Diversity

As a community of learners, Drexel’s Department of Creative Arts Therapies is committed to cultivating a diverse and dynamic student population. We are interested in, and enriched by, diversity, including but not limited to: culture, race, ethnicity, gender identification and expression, socio-economic class, religion, nationality, sexual orientation, age, learning styles, and political perspectives. We value these identities, shaped by experience, which support empathetic understanding and enlivened critical thinking in and outside of the classroom and in field placements.

Here in this community, we are aware of our past and present shortcomings and deficiencies. We understand that our programs, like the society in which we live, have too long habitually failed to provide just and plentiful opportunities and resources to all people, a perpetual misstep that has resulted in recurrent exclusion for some and disproportionate inclusion for others. We strive for an expansion of diversity. We recognize, embrace and proclaim that it is only by welcoming all people that we may reach our full, and true, potential as an educational community.


The Department of Creative Arts Therapies offers three Master of Arts degrees: Art Therapy and Counseling, Dance/Movement Therapy and Counseling, and Music Therapy and Counseling. The 90 quarter-credit curricula can be completed in two years on a full-time basis. We encourage full-time enrollment, yet part-time study can be arranged.

We also offer a PhD in Creative Arts Therapies, an innovative and unique research degree for art therapists, dance/movement therapists, and music therapists who are interested in focusing their careers on scholarly pursuits and academic leadership in their specific discipline.

Master of Arts in Art Therapy and Counseling
Engage in art therapy at a prestigious health center aligned to a school of fine arts.

Master of Arts in Dance/Movement Therapy Counseling
Integrate dance and movement into a whole-body approach to mental health.

Master of Arts in Music Therapy and Counseling
Study in the only music therapy program housed within an academic health center.

PhD in Creative Arts Therapies
Earn your PhD in a culture of creativity, innovation, initiative, and support.

Creative Arts Therapies Faculty

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News & Events



Kokoi’s name was chosen very carefully. Named in part for koi fish, who swim up through waterfalls and gain incredible strength in the process, and also for kids (“ko”), the moniker perfectly symbolizes the organization’s mission: helping children to become resilient in the face of grave health obstacles.

Paula Escobar ’07, an alumna of the Art Therapy and Counseling Program, drew on inspiration from an internship at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and her Drexel coursework when conceptualizing KoKoi – an nonprofit with services that were not available through any other avenues in her home country of Chile.

“Through my art therapy and counseling classes, I could see the positive impact of this modality, since art is a natural and non-threatening tool of communication for children. However, it was at my internship at CHOP that I could see their very holistic approach to health and its applications to helping children cope, understand their procedures and manage pain,” said Escobar. “In order to have holistic health, you need to do more than heal physically. It’s a complex, complete process. That’s why we started KoKoi.”

One year ago, after returning to Chile, the organization came to be. “Our mission is to reduce stress in children who go through chronic disease and invasive medical procedures, help them manage pain and try to prevent trauma.”

Meeting a need that went unrecognized before the founding of KoKoi, the organization has had tremendous growth and primarily services children at two facilities – Calvo Mackenna and Sagrada Familia. “At Sagrada Familia, they take kids with cancer from all over Chile and house them while they’re having treatment at Calvo Mackenna. We come over and do therapeutic activities that seem playful to them in order to help them prepare and recover from what they’re going through.”

According to Escobar, children understandably have difficulty understanding complicated medical procedures and this can be the most traumatic part of the experience. “A three-year-old kid for example, has very little experience with pain and every way. Therefore, anything related to medical treatment that’s unfamiliar is perceived by the child as threatening and dangerous. You have to be very clear and have the tools to help them explore what’s going to happen and how they’re feeling about it.”

The KoKoi team uses tools and language that kids can digest at their unique stages of development to ease this concern and let them know what’s going to happen to them before, after and during their procedures. Two of the most powerful tools they employ are medical play, art therapy and soon neurofeedback. Neurofeedback will be started by the end of the year and is a modality used to give feedback to the brain. It can be used to treat different bio-psychological issues including pain and anxiety.

Escobar gave an example of communication through medical play and art creation, to show how children project how they experience sickness and intrusive medical procedures. “In one occasion we brought bandages and cast materials for a group of children who were all oncology patients, and we let them play doctor. It was amazing to see how they projected what they were going through using their self-made patient dolls as a vehicle. They started telling me different stories, but not in first person. Some of the kids even made a chemo room where they treated their ‘patients’. This freed them up to really express themselves by telling us more about what the patients were going through.” Children were able to project their fears and anxieties in a non-threatening way in a safe environment where they as "doctors" were able to be in control of illness and treatment.

Escobar has a clear vision for her foundation. “Looking forward, the next step is to be able to produce a video game that helps prepare children before they go to surgery considering the best practices of hospitals internationally. Ultimately, we want to be able to offer our services free of charge to all vulnerable kids in Chile who need them.” With all she has accomplished in one year at the helm of the nonprofit, the future is certainly bright.


Florence Gelo, DMIN, associate professor in the College of Medicine, and Girija Kaimal, EdD ’01, an associate professor in the College of Nursing and Health Professions, recently received a $25,000 grant from the Foundation for Spirituality and Medicine to conduct research on arts based approaches to palliative care. 

Satwika Rahapsari, a graduate student from Indonesia who is currently studying in the Dance/Movement Therapy and Counseling M.A. Program on a student Fulbright Foundation grant, recently presented her research on "Finding the Self in Bedhaya Dance: Jungian Depth Psychology Analysis of the Javenese Sacred Dance" at the 18th Annual Southeast Asia Graduate Student Conference at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y

Maureen Vita, MA ‘09, art therapist for Drexel Cancer Care and a supervisor for interns in the MA in Art Therapy & Counseling program, recently received the 2015 Outstanding Supervisor Award from the Delaware Valley Art Therapy Association. The award honors an association member who has demonstrated outstanding mentorship, encouragement of professional development and leadership in the field.

• Three associates in the Physician Assistant Program were published in the Journal of the American Association of Physician Assistants (JAAPA), including two Program alumni.

o Post-ICU Syndrome: Rescuing the Undiagnosed, an article co-authored by Elizabeth A. Myers, PA ‘15, was published. It was written with help from her co- authors as while Myers was a student as part of her graduate project.

o A Rare Cause of Acute Abdominal Pain, an article co-authored by alumna, Abigail Gonnella,PA ‘14 was published. Gonnella also wrote a case for the Journal’s“ADifficult Diagnosis” section.

o Efficient Evidence: Strategies for Accessing and Using Medical Evidence Efficiently, an article co-authored by Gary Childs ‘01, Drexel librarian, and Adrian Banning, assistant clinical professor in the Physician Assistant Department, was also published.

The Division of CNE received the maximum four years ANCC-COA Reaccreditation

Samira Islam, a graduating student in the Master of Health Administration program, was just accepted as an Administrative Fellow at Geisinger Health System. This is a two-year fellowship and only three are selected per year in the health system.

The following Nutrition Sciences students matched with a Dietetic Internship of their choice during the first round of the match.  82% of them matched with their first choice internship. Congratulations!

Danielle Aran, Oregon State University
Ashley Bannister, Medical University of South Carolina
Debra Bateman, Inspira Health Network
Abby Brooks, Duke University Hospital
Maggie Buell, University of Alabama, Montgomery
Erin Sheridan, Sodexo Allentown
Samantha Diamond, Virginia Commonwealth University
Zainub Halawani, Inspira Health Network
Brianna Higgins, Sodexo Philadelphia, pediatric emphasis
Elizabeth Keegan, Florida Department of Agriculture, Tallahassee
Heather Krick, Sodexo Philadelphia
Elizabeth McManus, Minneapolis VA
Sarah Mencia, University of California at San Francisco
Samantha Mogil, Yale New Haven Hospital
Kellsey Odonnell, Ohio State University
Laila Ouldibbat, Sodexo New York, pediatric emphasis
Harley Rogers, Napa State Hospital
Leslee Sholomskas, Yale New Haven Hospital
Joe Stanzione, Sodexo New York
Nicole Stein, Virginia Commonwealth University
Kim Thoman, Sodexo Allentown
Emily Werner, University of Michigan, School of Public Health


By Nancy Gerber, PhD, director of the PhD Program in Creative Arts Therapies

The current trend of increasing sales of adult coloring books points to an unmet need in many people's lives for some quiet, creative time. The books also highlight how the creation of art can diminish stress, increase imagination, and foster thoughtfulness.

However, many of those coloring books are also marketed as "art therapy." Lost in the enthusiastic response to the trend is the distinction that coloring, indeed a therapeutic activity, is not actually psychotherapy.

Coloring in coloring books can instill a feeling of well-being, promote creativity, and make people feel more at peace with and connected to themselves in the midst of fast-paced and stress-filled lives. The sensations associated with coloring are all reminiscent of childhood experiences - the smell of crayons, the delight of color, the image coming to life - and they often promote a feeling of comfort by allowing us to momentarily take refuge from our day-to-day responsibilities.

These experiences of coloring also demonstrate the power of art to tap into our imaginations, memories, thoughts, and emotions. The process of coloring and making a picture feels satisfying and even induces an experience of mastery or pride. It is in these qualities that the therapeutic impact resides.

However, although these experiences induced by coloring books may feel very good and therapeutic - which is momentarily beneficial - they lack the purpose and process of art psychotherapy.

There are two major differences between the therapeutic activity of coloring in coloring books and art psychotherapy. First, in art psychotherapy, we generate our own images instead of using prefabricated ones. Second, the imagery is created and understood within the context of a therapeutic relationship with a credentialed art psychotherapist.

The therapeutic relationship provides the interpersonal context within which we can revisit our personal narratives and an interpersonal alchemy by which we can deconstruct, reconstruct, and cocreate our own stories for the purpose of psychological insight, self-awareness, and, ultimately, personal transformation.

Coloring books are a fine pastime that can feel nourishing and therapeutic. They have introduced people to the value of activities based in the creative arts. But they are not the answer to a psychological/behavioral problem or a desire for personal growth and change.

And that is what's important when considering the difference between a therapeutic activity and a meaningful psychotherapy experience. Both obviously share similarities, but only one will have a lasting, positive effect.

Story first appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer on February 24, 2016

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