Art Therapy Courses and Classes Overview

Art therapy students learn the various methods and skills needed to effectively counsel patients through creative self-expression. Read on to learn about the most commonly offered courses in art therapy.

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Essential Information

Art therapy courses are typically found in master's degree programs, although some universities may offer doctoral programs as well. Students may major specifically in art therapy; however, master's degree programs in counseling or psychology also offer art therapy as a concentration. A background in art, counseling or both is often necessary for graduate studies in art therapy.

Popular Art Therapy Classes

The most popular art therapy courses are profiled in the following course descriptions.

Art Therapy Theory Course

Art therapy counselors must understand the theoretical foundations and historical development of art therapy. Students in this theory course explore the psychotherapy and art theories relevant to expressive therapy. They will also examine the application of art therapy techniques and treatments, and current trends in both. This introductory course is taken in the first semester of an art therapy program.

Expressive Therapy Course

Expressive modalities, meaning the tools used for expression in art therapy, are examined in this course. Dance, writing, drama and music are among the tools explored, and techniques of integrating these tools with visual media are also discussed. Course content is delivered through lecture, reading and hands-on experience.

Art Therapy Studio Course

Aspiring art therapists work on their artistic skills in this art studio course. Through the course, students develop the skills necessary to work as a therapist. The use of personal creativity to help patients with emotional and adjustment issues is explored.

Children and Art Therapy Course

This course examines the art therapy theories and approaches specific to children. Through case materials, art, experiential exercises and art-based assessment tools, students learn to evaluate and treat children. Both clinical and educational environments are examined, as well as psychological and social factors.

Art Therapy in Groups Course

Through theoretical and experiential learning, students learn to create and maintain art therapy groups. They study approaches and theories to become effective group leaders in a variety of settings. Topics covered include group processes and developments, member behaviors, group dynamics, leadership styles and selection criteria.

Multicultural Art Therapy Course

Race, ethnicity, class, gender and sexuality can influence both the therapist and the patient. In multicultural art therapy courses, students learn to be aware of diversity issues that affect therapy and counseling. They gain the skills necessary for multicultural counseling by exploring value systems, needs, expectations and counseling methods. The role of counselor as an advocate for social justice may also be explored.

Diagnosis and Assessment through Art Course

The practice and reliability of diagnosis through art assessment is the focus of this course. Through a combination of didactic and hands-on learning, students are introduced to art therapy techniques for diagnosing and assessing patients. Students gain familiarity with standard art therapy tests like the Diagnostic Drawing Series (DDS) and the Silver Drawing Test of Cognition and Emotion.

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