The Art Therapy and Counseling graduate program prepares students with beginning skills and knowledge to apply theoretical and relevant art therapy practices. To do this, classroom didactic learning and individual to small group supervisions dynamically support the students’ applications of informal to formal assessment and treatment planning, health care and related documentation, and contemporary ethical practices. The intercultural impacts of health and relational contexts, discrimination and stress, and wellness and resilience are emphasized as well as the value of media and materials discernment in forming therapeutic relationships and connections. Students combine art therapy and counseling methods within multiple systems of care for engaging diverse individuals, groups, and families for collaborative goals. The program, at a minimum, aims to prepare competent entry-level Art Therapists in the cognitive (knowledge), psychomotor (skills), and affective (behavior) learning domains.
The Art Therapy and Counseling program's 90-quarter-credit curriculum is designed to meet the Pennsylvania Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) educational requirements for state licensure and the Accreditation Council for Art Therapy Educational standards for professional Art Therapy Credentials Board national certification (ATR-BC). While art therapy educational standards are a part of national accreditation, state licensure requirements for professional therapists and counselors vary widely from state to state and may change at any time. Our Art Therapy and Counseling program is licensure-eligible in the state of Pennsylvania and not automatically portable state to state. Therefore, if you are or will be interested in counseling licensure, you are strongly advised to access and check the licensure requirements for any state(s) in which you plan to work and practice to make sure they align with the curriculum content and field education outcomes of this program.
What you will learn
Through a multifaceted learning process, students of the Art Therapy and Counseling program learn the significant impacts that creativity, cultural humility and self-awareness, and empathy play in helping relationships and interpersonal development. The students learn to engage and strengthen their trauma-informed facilitation and group skills that include active listening, creative media use, and effective verbal, written, and meta verbal communication as well as self-regulation and compassion.
The Art Therapy and Counseling curriculum is a synthesis of multiple interactive educational components including theory, applied practice via field education, small group and individual supervision, and creative-based scholarship. Experienced together, these interactive learning components mirror the complex interplay that can occur between participants, creative processes and therapeutic spaces, and the metaphysical materiality of media in art therapy. The contemporary practices that our art therapy and counseling curriculum align with are prevention and social support, lifestyle and community connection, wellness and resilience, rehabilitation, therapeutic assessment, and social action and advocacy.
Key program components include:
- Advanced education in the theoretical and applied foundations of art psychotherapy; art as therapy; open studio approaches; counseling theories and micro-skills; social action, advocacy, and ethics of care; and systems perspectives within community-based, wellness, and preventive initiatives;
- 2 - 3 supervised field placement opportunities, beginning with practicum and developing over experience into a more independent internship, with a range of populations in a variety of systems of care including medical and psychiatric hospitals, outpatient and interdisciplinary behavioral health facilities, schools or other educational supports, assisted living care facilities, recovery-focused systems, community health centers, shelters, foster care, and more;
- Emphasis on cultural humility skill acquisition including understanding and articulating how intersectional identities and social positionality (privileged and oppressed) can impact and augment therapeutic relationships and goals of therapy;
- Counseling courses that have integrated learning across the CATs (Creative Arts Therapies or Art Therapy, Dance/Movement Therapy, and Music Therapy);
- Master's culminating project that is creative based scholarship disseminated via an end of academic year online community platform;
- Experiential art-making processes that inform both classroom and didactic learning to support the students’ sequential field education (practicum & internship) experiences
What makes the Drexel Art Therapy and Counseling program unique?
This groundbreaking program was the first United States graduate program in North America to matriculate arts therapy students and continues to support innovation and excellence in the creative arts therapies fields.
Students combine art therapy and counseling practices with integrated learning across the CATs (Creative Arts Therapies or Art Therapy, Dance/Movement Therapy, and Music Therapy) and real-life fieldwork and quality Delaware Valley area supervisors.
Students opting for the two year plan of study start their field work experiences upon the start of their first quarter.
Drexel University College of Nursing and Health Professions has critical access to various practice environments, interdisciplinary opportunities including collaborative culminating projects, and research facilities and infrastructure.
This distinctive program was founded in 1967 at Hahnemann Medical College and Hospital.
Welcome to the Art Therapy & Counseling Admissions page! Here you will find information to help you get started and sustain your application journey.
The deadline for applications for the Fall 2022 cohort is Thursday, December 30, 2021
What do I need to apply for this program?
A Bachelor's degree from an accredited institution (college, university, community college) and a minimum overall GPA (Grade Point Average) of 3.0 or above.
Send your official transcripts directly to Drexel from all the colleges/universities that you have attended. Transcripts must be submitted in a sealed envelope with the college/university seal over the flap to Drexel University, Applications Processing, PO Box 34789, Philadelphia, PA 19101, OR submitted through a secure electronic transcript delivery service to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please note that transcripts are required regardless of number of credits taken or if the credits were transferred to another school. An admission decision may be delayed if you do not send transcripts from all colleges/universities attended.
Transcripts must show course-by-course grades and degree conferrals. If your school does not notate degree conferrals on the official transcripts, you must provide copies of any graduate or degree certificates.
If your school issues only one transcript for life, you are required to have a course-by-course evaluation completed by an approved transcript evaluation agency. Use our Transcript Lookup Tool to assist you in contacting your previous institutions.
What prerequisites need to be included in my transcripts for my application to be considered for an interview and acceptance?
We require foundational coursework and demonstratable skills and exploration in psychology and studio art subjects as essential “building blocks” to our graduate art therapy and counseling curriculum to follow undergraduate study. If you are still completing your undergraduate degree and/or plan to take additional courses to fulfill these prerequisites not currently on your transcript during this application process, please indicate this in your essay or communicate your plan or timeline for completing them before your entry to our program.
18-semester credits (or 27-quarter credits) of studio art coursework that can include a variety of 2D and 3D mediums that can include drawing, ceramics, printmaking, fiber and textile arts, painting, sculpture or fabrication, digital media including photography, video, and animation, and costume or set design.
12-semester credits (or 18-quarter credits) of psychology coursework, including one 3 semester credit (or 4.5 quarter credit) course in developmental psychology and one 3 semester credit (or 4.5 quarter credit) course reviewing psychological phenomenon of mental illness, addiction, and adversity. The remaining six-semester credits (or 9-quarter credits) of psychology pre-requisites could be in areas of each applicant’s interest and/or courses available.
What do I need to prepare and submit along with my application and transcripts?
The following list includes all required elements for your application.
- Three Letters of Recommendation: You can electronically request recommendations by listing your recommenders and their contact information on your application or through the Discover Drexel portal after you submit your application. Choose recommenders who can speak to your coursework, paid or volunteer jobs, artistry, and scholarship such as previous or current professors, supervisors, or employers. Once requested, please follow up with your recommenders to ensure they received your recommendation request — they may need to check their junk mail or Spam folder. Be sure to confirm that your recommenders will submit letters by your application deadline and follow up with those who have not completed their recommendations.
- A Personal Statement/Essay: Please submit a 500 to 750-word typed personal essay that is intended to serve as a writing sample while telling the application review team more about you. Some things you could include are: Why are you applying to our program? What inspired you to follow a career in art therapy? What level of and insight into human service experience do you have? If you feel comfortable to share, please bring in aspects of your race or ethnicity, gender or gender identity, dis/ability, nationality, immigration status, religion, sexual orientation, and any other relevant cultural affiliation/s that connect your learning or future work goals to intercultural experiences or community perspectives.
- CV/Resume: Include your relevant education, work, and service or volunteer experiences.
- Visual Art Portfolio: Submit a portfolio of 10–15 works of art that demonstrate facility with a range of media and your understanding of the creative process. Include an image or file list (title, media, and dimensions) and any relevant context or descriptions along with the artworks shared, and within the portfolio. The purpose of this portfolio is for us to understand your media and materials expression and exploration. Refrain from uploading prescriptive assignments from foundational art classes, unless you like how they turned out! As shared above, your creative works can include a variety of 2D and 3D mediums such as drawing, ceramics, printmaking, painting, sculpture or fabrication, fiber and textile arts, digital media including photography, video, and animation, and costume or set design. We invite you to share your more recent and current projects, ideas, and innovative media practices to evidence both breadth and depth of materials use rather than a more singular focus or “consistency” in your portfolio. Art therapy portfolios tend to be contrastive in content compared to fine arts examples. Visual Art Portfolios are to be uploaded through SlideRoom.
What happens after I apply?
- All applications are collated into the Drexel Graduate Admissions database and uploaded after the final December deadline for faculty review in early January.
- Invitations to interview will be delivered to select applicants via our Creative Arts Therapies Admissions e-mail by early February, with options to attend a group interview on dates in late February or early March.
- Selected international candidates will be contacted via Creative Arts Therapies Admissions email to schedule online interviews if they cannot be present for in-person interview days.
- All candidates invited to enroll in the next Fall cohort will be notified via email from both Creative Arts Therapies Admissions and Drexel Graduate Admissions by the end of March via email.
- Those applicants not invited to interview, or not accepted after the group interviews are completed, will be notified by the Drexel Graduate Admissions office.
Who can I contact for more information about the admissions process and if I have any questions?
A Creative Arts Therapies admissions coordinator is here to answer your additional questions. Please email: CATadmissions@drexel.edu.
What if I have more questions and/or am not yet ready to apply?
Reach out to us. We would love to hear from you! Ask our Admissions Coordinator about our next online Q & A session and/or upcoming on-campus visit day.
Diversity, equity and inclusion:
Please review the CNHP (College of Nursing and Health Professions) Diversity, Equity and Inclusion website as to our program, department and greater college and university commitments in making our learning and work environments diverse and inclusive, or places where all voices and persons are heard and honored for their lived experiences. We also value how intersectional experiences and perspectives intrinsically enrich education, research and practice.
Did you know Drexel University’s College of Nursing and Health Professions is an age-friendly college?
Learn more at: https://drexel.edu/cnhp/research/centers/agewell/Age-Friendly-Drexel-University/
Tuition and Fee Rates: Please visit the Tuition and Fee Rates page on Drexel Central.
Art Therapy and Counseling students study the vital roles that creativity, empathy and cultural humility augment our professional work and interpersonal growth. The 90 quarter-credit curriculum includes specific art therapy coursework in areas such as:
- foundations of creative arts therapies;
- assessment and treatment planning for children, adolescents, adults, older adults and families;
- trauma and systemic approaches;
- creativity, symbol and metaphor;
- digital media use;
- professional identity;
- addictions and recovery.
Students also take classes in general counseling topics including:
- psychological human development;
- DSM and psychopathology;
- social and cultural foundations;
- professional ethics and orientation;
- career counseling;
- clinical appraisal and assessment;
- theories of counseling and psychotherapy;
- behavioral research;
- group dynamics.
The Art Therapy and Counseling program is a high-residency program, meaning that students must attend in-person classes at Drexel’s Philadelphia campus during the Fall, Winter and Spring quarters. All Summer term courses are offered completely online, and to accommodate students’ abilities to work and/or be in locations other than Philadelphia for reasons of rest or return to family and friends while completing their summer course work. Classes and practicums/internships are scheduled for weekdays (Monday through Friday) and generally during daytime hours (8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.).
Students may enroll in an accelerated (7 quarters) or a decelerated (11 quarters) plan of study, which span the coursework and field education experiences over two or three years, respectively. We do not refer to the three-year, decelerated plans of study as part-time because in all terms, students will register for enough credits to be considered full-time for the federal financial aid requirements. At a minimum, decelerated plan of study students need to be available two days a week in their first year, three to four days a week in their second year, and 4-5 days a week in their final year. There are additional time commitments needed weekly to complete variable assignments, prepare readings or other learning materials, and/or engage in small group activities for courses and supervisions.
The Drexel University Art Therapy and Counseling program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (www.caahep.org) upon the recommendation of The Accreditation Council for Art Therapy Education. Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs www.caahep.org
Both ACATE and CAAHEP cooperate with the American Art Therapy Association (AATA) to establish, maintain and promote appropriate standards of quality for educational programs that meet or exceed the minimum standards. The Drexel University Master of Arts in Art Therapy and Counseling program also meets the educational requirements for the Registered Art Therapist (ATR) or ATR-BC (board certification) with the Art Therapy Credentials Board (ATCB).
Benefits of Accreditation
CAAHEP accreditation attests to the quality of an educational program that prepares for entry into the art therapy profession.
- For the public, accreditation promotes and protects the health, safety, and welfare of the communities that art therapy professionals serve
- For prospective students, accreditation provides assurance the program has been evaluated and has met accepted standards established by and with art therapy stakeholders
- For prospective employers, accreditation assures that the curriculum covers essential skills and knowledge needed for today's contemporary practices and healthcare trends
- For graduates, accreditation represents an indicator of a program's quality and viability
- For art therapists, accreditation involves practitioners in the establishment of standards and assures that educational requirements deliver essential services while inspiring adaptive and innovative approaches
- For the faculty and program administrators, accreditation promotes ongoing program evaluation tools and practices for continuous improvement and accountability
- For the University, college, department or program, accreditation represents peer recognition and sustainability
Field Education for Art Therapy and Counseling students
The number of practicum and internship (Field Education) hours provided by our Art Therapy and Counseling program meets the educational standards of the American Art Therapy Association (AATA) and the Accreditation Council for Art Therapy Education (ACATE) and often exceeds the hours required in most art therapy graduate programs.
- In the two-year plan of study, students begin their field education experiences as soon as they enter the program. The field education parallels the classroom learning content, and both are enhanced by individual and group supervision every week.
- In the three-year program plan of study option, students begin their practicum in their second year of the program.
Practicum Field Experience
All students have one to two practicum experiences that span over three quarters, either their first or second year. The first quarter clinical practicum is accompanied by a Counseling Skills course as well as small group supervision. The first practicum experience is one in which art therapy observation is gained through the direct experience of each student working with an art therapist who role models and supervises the students on what they are experiencing in various milieus and care systems. The degree of involvement in the art therapy process and responsibilities is tailored to the student's skill development, which is discussed in various supervision venues and concretized through evaluation processes. Depending on the site and supervisor availability, practicum student experiences may be gained in one to two different treatment settings during three academic quarters (Fall, Winter, Spring). The practicum locations, throughout Philadelphia, parts of New Jersey, and surrounding areas, are assigned by the Field Education Director and require that an art therapist be on-site with the student during the formative first year of applied experience.
Internship Field Experience
The second or third-year internship experience offers opportunities for students to mature and specialize as interns in a new field placement. With the guidance of the Field Education Director and art therapy educational requirements, students can self-choose an internship experience that can, but does not require an art therapist on-site. These internship experiences also span three-quarters of the school year (Fall, Winter, Spring) and have a three day a week commitment to provide the students more advanced and integrated responsibilities. When students choose an internship site where there is not a pre-existing art therapy service, they receive firsthand experience of developing their role and responsibilities with administrative support alongside off-site art therapy supervision and weekly small group supervision groups. Students selecting internships with pre-existing art therapy services also participate in on-site supervision and small group supervision groups for sustained learning and support.
Arts-Based Authentic Learning Formative Assessments
All practicum and internship students are required to keep written and visual journals that assist with developing observational skills as well as greater emotional and cognitive capacities to discern, tolerate, and understand the various internal experiences that emerge for an art therapist and counselor in training (these are shared and developed directly in small group supervision groups). Moreover, understanding these internal experiences alongside the observation of systems and milieu practices and lived experiences of clientele and groups, fundamentally inform the art therapy and counseling field education of each graduate student. Articulating and integrating these components over time and as distinct processes are key competencies. Attributes to such integrated learning can fall into many areas gained via processes of self-reflection and growth, interpersonal collaboration, and social learning such as:
- critical and creative thinking;
- group dynamics awareness;
- ethical problem solving and intercultural communication;
- cultural humility.
We identify the following nine integrative program goals for Art Therapy and Counseling Student Learning Outcomes. Students will learn/engage:
- That intersectional identities (privileged and oppressed) and cultural humility can impact and augment therapeutic relationships and goals of therapy.
- Creativity and creative methods for learning can engage innovative problem solving.
- Any necessary interpersonal work, self-care, professional disposition development is lifelong and ongoing.
- Various art therapy theories can be applied to practices, methods and applications relevant to client or systems of care goals and intentions.
- Formal to informal assessments assist in conceptualizing how to integrate relevant art therapy methods alongside counseling micro-skills.
- Comprehensive foundations for creative and ethical art therapy and counseling work connect directly to field education experiences within multiple systems of care and with culturally diverse groups and persons.
- Individualized state licensure pursuits can be attained via ongoing academic advisement, multiple licensure workshops and post-graduation activities.
- A Master's culminating project can be both research and creative-based and disseminated.
- Class experientials and didactic learning inform and support the students’ sequential field education (practicum & internship) experiences.