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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



The Stephen and Sandra Sheller 11th Street Family Health Services of Drexel University operates as a patient-centered, integrated, and trauma-informed model of care.  Integrative health care creates a seamless engagement for patients, most of whom represent a vulnerable population and are residents of public housing, and caregivers in the full range of physical, psychological, social, preventive, and therapeutic factors known to be effective and necessary for the achievement of optimal health throughout the lifespan.  The center is a nationally-recognized model of nurse-managed, community-based care for the education of health professions students and for faculty practice. 

A new wing, which added 17,000 square feet of space to the practice, opened to patients on June 29, 2015. The new addition accommodates the expansion of primary care services, and includes space for nursing, nutrition sciences, couple and family therapy and creative arts therapies.

Lindsay Edwards, MA, Director of Creative Arts Therapy Department at Stephen and Sandra Sheller 11th Street Family Health Services offers some insight on the impact the new space for creative arts therapies is having on staff and patients, alike.

Q:   What creative arts therapies services do you offer patients?

A:    We’re in a wonderfully unique situation at the Stephen & Sandra Sheller 11th Street Family Health Services (11th Street) because we can build and evolve Creative Arts Therapies  (CATs) services according to client needs, community partners’ initiatives, staff & student expertise and socio-political-cultural issues that occur nationally and locally.  Our creative arts therapists and students offer individual and group work to clients, as well as individual and group support to staff.  We infuse CATs into psychoeducational groups, such as Power over Pain for chronic pain patients, and embed CATs into assessments for other disciplines, like offering a regular and periodic AT assessment to physical therapy patients.  A picture is worth 1000 words to show the patient’s initial level of pain, and then help the PT represent the patient’s growth.  Additionally, we serve as leadership on center-wide teams, and present to community organizations because we offer a unique lens to the healthcare perspective.  For example, when a client with dementia scores high on a mental status exam, despite their obvious decline, a dance/movement therapist can present videotaped sessions to the treatment team to actually demonstrate the reality of the client’s decline with spatial orientation, alertness, planning/preparation and pattern recall.  Or an art therapist can conduct specific assessments that help a parent understand the sense of overwhelm that their child is experiencing by witnessing repeated violence, since it is hard for the child to talk about it.  A music therapist can help a group of staff calm, synchronize and increase appreciation for everyone’s unique voice before holding a meeting to discuss controversial challenges, like we often do within our Sanctuary Model.

Topics of youth & adult DMT, AT & MT groups we’ve led include 1) building resiliency after trauma; 2) fostering bonding & attunement prenatally and between child-caregiver; 3) drumming circle for vitality & self-confidence; 4) quilting to foster socialization and to improve skills with compromising and team building; and 5) sensitizing a desensitized, over-stressed body so that one can better identify & manage emotions as well as feel their way to enjoyment of life; and 6) substance abuse prevention.  An example of responding to national conversation & teaming with local partners is to address the notion of incarceration being modern day slavery, since it highly affects our 11th Street families.  I’m interested in working more closely with The Center for Returning Citizens to develop an art therapy group that supports the transition of our formally incarcerated clients, and their families.  

The more we collaboratively work with the other excellent health professionals at 11th Street, the more we can focus on filling a void of treatment so that we can sincerely compliment, and help create, a holistic wellness plan for our clients.

Q:   What are some of the features of the new space for creative arts therapies?

A:    The new wing includes three separate studios for creative arts therapies (art therapy, music therapy and dance/movement therapy) and for community arts programming.  Each studio was designed a bit differently to accommodate aspects of each modality. For example, the dance movement therapy studio has a mirror so that we have another way to receive movement feedback.  The art therapy studio has a ton of beautiful natural light to highlight the art that can be displayed within the studio.  The music studio was designed to absorb acoustics more effectively.  We also have a conference room in the new wing where students or staff will be able observe sessions in each creative arts therapies studio via camera/video software once it is installed.  This is great for clinical supervision, students to observe clinicians without having to be in the room which could compromise safety of the client, and research purposes.  There is also gallery space in the waiting areas that we plan to use for rotating exhibits of professional art and clients’ therapeutic art if they would like to display it.

Q:   How does the new wing impact the creative arts therapies services offered?

A:    Now that we have space, we can see more patients.  With space, we can host student interns and initiate hiring processes for creative arts therapies staff once we generate funds to support salaries.  Because of the design, the creative arts therapies are more visible to patients - they are inquiring more about what they are and how to access them.  The space also implies the importance of creative arts therapies in health care.  When you see the size of the studios, one assumes that patients have been positively affected by their creative arts therapies treatment.  We are one of the first, if not the first, primary care setting to build a creative arts therapies suite (named in honor of James Widener Ray) and embed the services into patient wellness (treatment) plans.  In other words, the space sends a message to clients, staff, funders and nation-wide/international health centers that the creative arts therapies are effective and necessary!

Q: How are patients reacting? Staff?

A:    My clients have been astonished by the beauty and sacredness of each space.  We shared a room with three other disciplines before the new building opened.  So, to have a room dedicated to dance movement therapy only helps the client feel more important, more organized and safer. Plus, it's really great for them to have somewhere really nice to come, away from what often times is a chaotic, depleted home environment.  As a staff member using the spaces, I feel more respected because I am now equipped with the space and props to do my work as it was intended. When we have something nice to value (like a new space), we typically value ourselves and our work within it more.  A huge success to attribute to the spaces is the props and materials that we have to do our work (instruments, art supplies, etc.), and this is attributed to the Legacy Foundation.  I'm so fortunate that they understand the importance of that in our work.


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.

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