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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.

Post-Master's Certificate in Art Therapy

Post-Master's Certificate in Dance/Movement Therapy

Post-Master's Certificate in Music Therapy

Creative Arts Therapies Faculty

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News & Events



If you were given a week to sample a desired major and connect with professionals in your field, all before coming to college, would you take it? The high school students who attended Drexel’s Exploration in Mental Health Careers hosted by the Behavioral Health Counseling Department certainly did. From June 22 – 26 and July 6 – 10 nearly 30 students made the journey to Drexel to get the inside scoop on all things mental health, and their experiences couldn’t have been more positive.

“I loved the counseling workshop where we practiced skills we learned during the week on one another,” said one student. The counseling skills workshop prepared the students for a more realistic counseling experience in the College’s Standardized Patient Lab that took place later in the week.  Students engaged in a simulated counseling session with Standardized Patient actors who served as clients in 15 minute, digitally recorded sessions. Standardized Patients, which are regularly used in College of Nursing and Health Professions programs, gave the students an authentic Drexel experience. “I was caught off guard by how real and challenging the actors were,” remarked another student.

In addition to counseling simulations, Summer Institute guests sampled creative arts therapies techniques and toured two outpatient facilities in Philadelphia: Horizon House and Sobriety Through Out Patient. The tours exposed students to real patients in actual treatment settings and gave insight to the dynamics of outpatient care. Students were also impressed when given the opportunity to meet Jeffrey Wilush, President and CEO of Horizon House, who spoke with them about the services offered at their locations.

The students found it beneficial to meet professionals and clients in actual treatment facilities, but two aspects they found to be the most exciting and innovative were sampling creative art therapies and simulated counseling sessions. “I had no idea what creative arts therapies were before Summer Institute,” recalled one student, “but could definitely see myself doing that in the future.” Another student revealed that learning and practicing basic counseling skills, then seeing those skills used by professionals in treatment settings, was extremely beneficial. “It was interesting to see such a wide variety of illnesses and people at different places [in their treatment]” she said.

At week's end, at the celebratory lunch in downtown Philadelphia, students’ faces were beaming with excitement. The group collectively felt like they learned a lot about the field of behavioral health, had a rewarding academic and professional experience and made many new friends. We hope to see Summer Institute students at Drexel full-time soon!


Drexel’s art therapy faculty and alumni from both the PhD in Creative Arts Therapies and Masters in Art Therapy and Counseling programs were well represented at the 46th Annual Conference of The American Art Therapy Association (AATA). This year’s conference was held in Minneapolis, with Temple Grandin, PhD, as the keynote speaker.

Seen in #OfftheCharts: Missed the AATA 46th Annual Conference? We have all of the highlights!

Yasmine Awais, MAAT, (interim director, masters’ program) was invited to facilitate a master supervision session on Multicultural Clinical Practice. Nancy Gerber, PhD, (director, PhD Program) facilitated a small group discussion as a part of an Education Committee Workshop for Art Therapy Educators. Gerber also co-facilitated and moderated the Research Committee's annual Research Roundtable. She gave two presentations: "Imagery as Data in Art Therapy Research and Practice" with Michele Rattigan, MA, (assistant clinical professor) and master’s alumna Tina Montagna-Tate; and presented on a panel entitled "The Art Therapy Education Continuum." Girija Kaimal, EdD, (assistant professor in the PhD program) co-presented "Painting a Bigger Picture: How to Foster Applied Research through Clinician-Researcher Partnerships." Donna Kaiser, PhD, (associate clinical professor in the masters’ program) co-presented a paper with masters’ alumna Abigail Gray entitled “Pair Art Therapy: Increasing Empathic Reactions in Pre-School Children. Gioia Chilton, alumna of our PhD Program also co-presented on "Art Therapy and Positive Psychology: Exchanging Ideas and Support" and "Positive Art Therapy: Bridging Positive Psychology and Art Therapy."  Additionally, the following alumni from the MA program presented at the conference: Natalie Carlton, Abbien Crowley, Michele Dean, Jessica Drass, Hope Heffner, Juliet King, Kelly McFadden Kuchinov, Sarah Manley, Tina Montagna-Tate, Kathryn Snyder, and Nicole Wilcox.  
Kaimal was awarded the AATA Research Award for her work on health outcomes of visual expression; and masters’ alumna Michelle Dean was awarded the Pearlie Roberson Award, which aims to support projects that target multicultural aspects and capacities of art therapy. Faculty, alumni and friends celebrated all of our accomplishments at a Drexel hosted reception, with 30 people in attendance.


Through a long-standing partnership with the Delaware County Juvenile Detention Center, graduate students in the Music Therapy and Counseling program are helping to bring joy, a creative outlet and --most importantly -- music, to an adolescent population whose current circumstances are uncertain, often creating a great deal of anxiety among them.

“It’s a short term detention center, so kids are awaiting judgment,” said Flossie Ierardi, MM, MT-BC, LPC, Director of Music Therapy Programs for the Department of Creative Arts Therapies. “They are waiting to find out if they are going to go home, or if they are going to have to go to a long-term treatment facility or even in some cases to a detention facility. There is a lot of anxiety around that. Even though these kids have been engaging in negative behaviors, they are very anxious, even upset or depressed about it.”

The need was there, and about 10 years ago the Lead Teacher from the detention center sought to address it. Together with Ierardi, they established a volunteer opportunity which brought groups of three music therapy and counseling students to the Delaware County Juvenile Detention Center three times a summer to lead therapeutic music groups. “The goal was to alleviate the anxiety even for a short period of time to help kids get back to a point where they can cope a little better with the experience that they’re having  now,” said Ierardi. 

And for students, the program offers a unique clinical experience with nearly-immediate gratification. K.D. McLaughlin, who just completed her first year in this two-year program, participated in the most recent visit to Delaware County Juvenile Detention Center on July 3, 2015. Tasked with providing a distraction from the holiday weekend ahead, and the fact that the kids would be spending it in the facility, McLaughlin saw a group of adolescents who started the session closed off completely open up with laughter and joking at the end of the 45 minute music session.

 “It was great to see their reactions. Music, especially with that population, is such a huge part of their lives,” she said. “When you bring it into that context and they get to show what they can do on top of learning new things, you could see the light on their faces.” The session provided opportunities to learn drumming patterns, play a xylophone (trying percussion instruments many of the kids had never played before) and also participate in songs, like Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds” with improvisation opportunities to encourage both self-expression and active listening.

It’s also important, as part of the therapeutic group, to recreate songs and music from their preferred genre. “Many times we would recreate a lot of the music that’s within the hip hop genre and really use that to validate where they’re coming from and draw out their potential and strengths,” said Matt Page, who just completed his graduate coursework. Page opted for a more in-depth experience – a term-long clinical practicum at the Detention Center during the 2013-2014 academic year in addition to participating in the summer service opportunity. “It’s incredible how they open up after 15 minutes or so of drumming, improvisation and listening to their preferred music.”  The Detention Center has now become a consistent clinical practicum site for music therapy students.

That’s not to say every visit is as easy or as productive. “Sometimes it can be challenging,” said Ierardi. “Some days they’re angry that they’re there, and that’s understandable. Some days they’re depressed that they’re there, and that’s understandable, too.” But the goal is to provide a healthy outlet, especially on those days, to safely express that they are going through a really difficult time.
“We don’t talk about what brings them to the facility, we talk about what makes them so resilient and what can get them through the toughest of times,” said Page.

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