EXA Core Curriculum

This three-year program covers individual, group, couple, and family therapy and includes a yearlong practicum under the supervision of licensed mental health professionals who are also expressive arts therapists.

The training meets the educational* requirements for California's Marriage and Family Therapy license (MFT) and  Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor and is designed to meet the educational requirements to become a Registered Expressive Arts Therapist (REAT) with the International Expressive Arts Therapy Association.

This is a description of the EXA classes students will take during their three years in our program. 

Course Descriptions

Assessment and Treatment of Addiction Disorders 

Survey of current treatment approaches to chemical dependency and examination of humanist-transpersonal perspectives. 

Advanced Treatment of Addictions (LPCC Curriculum Only)

The interrelationships between mental, emotional, behavioral, and chemical dependency problems in the lives of clients will be examined. Effective clinical skills will be presented in the context of issues related to diagnosis, treatment, and treatment compliance of dually diagnosed clients. Career Counseling Theory and Practice for Therapists (LPCC Curriculum Only)The professional practice of career counseling has much to offer to psychotherapists working in community settings. Client-centered therapy encourages the patient to make decisions about wellness and the types of activities she or he will be involved in. The role of the therapists in supporting options that are realistic, achievable, and appropriate will be presented and practiced. There exists a broad literature and many effective, evidence-based theories and practices in career development and counseling. This course will equip the therapists in selecting and implementing interventions to clients experiencing life transitions. 

Child Therapy (MFT Curriculum only)

Techniques to remedy or prevent problems in children and their families. Case material introduces strategies of intervention.

Clinical and Psychological Assessment in EXA

Designed to build upon the information learned in the History and Foundations of Expressive Arts Therapy course by exposing students to a wide range of expressive arts therapy practices in various settings with multiple populations. This course focuses on the initial stage of therapy including intake, psychological assessment, history-taking, evaluation, goal-setting and establishing rapport through the use of arts interventions.  We will read case studies highlighting different types of client populations, expressive arts experiences, therapeutic goals, and treatment milieus. We will look at specific assessment techniques using the various arts forms and begin practice in the implementation of EXA assessments and interventions. This course also builds on Psychotherapy Theories and Practices and Therapeutic Communications. We will examine how EXA interventions meld with psychotherapy theories you learned last semester. We will continue building on your therapeutic communication skills by working on translating these basic skills into EXA interventions.  We will also lay the groundwork for more in-depth study in your EXA Approaches and other coursework.


Community Mental Health and the Recovery Model

Students will learn the basic principles of the recovery model of mental health as described and supported by the California Mental Health Services Act of 2004. Students will learn and work with the "mental health recovery" models of service and treatment delivery, including key structural components. Evidence-based treatment interventions will be demonstrated and experienced, and effective strategies for working on integrated service teams, and evaluation methodologies will be developed.


Couples Counseling (MFT Curriculum only)

Theoretical and therapeutic approaches to working with couples, including object relations, ego analytic, cognitive behavioral, existential, and transpersonal perspectives as well as family systems approaches. Students learn how to integrate the use of visual arts, music, movement, drama, and the language arts with these different theoretical approaches.Expressive Arts Therapy Approach: EXA Collaborative & Narrative ApproachesThis class introduces students to the theories and practices that inform collaborative and narrative approaches to EXA. Rooted within social constructionist philosophy and congruent with the principles and practices of the recovery model, students learn how to use EXA to build collaborative relationships with clients, integrating "playful approaches to serious problems" (Epston, Freeman, and Lobovits). Students learn to coauthor with client's strengths-based alternative narratives in written, visual, poetic, musical, and embodied forms.

EXA Approaches Module I

Module I in EXA approaches offers hands-on training in the theory and application of specific multimodal methods. While learning about the history, development and core competencies of each method, students will have the opportunity to demonstrate ways these approaches can meet the recovery-oriented care needs of diverse individuals, couples, families, and communities. Students will also explore the ways these approaches intersect with standard psychological practice and when they may be clinically appropriate or contraindicated.

EXA Approaches Module II 

Module ll class in EXA approaches offers hands-on training in the theory and application of specific multimodal methods. While learning about the history, development and core competencies of each method, students will have the opportunity to demonstrate ways these approaches can meet the recovery-oriented care needs of diverse individuals, couples, families, and communities. Students will also explore the ways these approaches intersect with standard psychological practice and when they may be clinically appropriate or contraindicated.

EXA Approaches Module III

Module lll in EXA approaches offers hands-on training in the theory and application of specific multimodal methods. While learning about the history, development and core competencies of each method, students will have the opportunity to demonstrate ways these approaches can meet the recovery-oriented care needs of diverse individuals, couples, families, and communities. Students will also explore the ways these approaches intersect with standard psychological practice and when they may be clinically appropriate or contraindicated.

Expressive Arts Therapy Approach: Person-Centered 

This course integrates Carl Roger's evidence-based theory with multi-modal arts practice in individual therapy and group work to support self-awareness, healing, and self-determination, key factors that are congruent with the recovery model. Emphasis is on core conditions of empathy, honesty and "unconditional positive regard" to encourage respect for individual uniqueness and cultural diversity.

Expressive Arts Therapy Integrative Seminar 

Taken in the final semester, this course integrates personal, artistic, academic, and clinical elements of the program. The final project includes a personal journey statement, an arts presentation, integrative paper, and clinical case study. The integrative paper articulates each student's philosophy and approach to expressive arts therapy. The case study includes a clinical case presentation integrating expressive arts therapy and other clinical approaches.

Family Dynamics and Therapy 

This course covers the family life cycle as well as the theories and methods of many of the major family theories, including strategic, brief strategic, systemic, narrative, solution-focused, family-of-origin, structural, and symbolic-experiential family therapy. The course will present and examine myriad family structures as represented in society and in public mental health. The course also includes experiential expressive arts processes and instructor-demonstrated techniques.


Group Dynamics and Therapy

This course explores basic theories of group process and group therapy through group interaction, didactic analysis, and synthesis. Students will learn the use of standard group and expressive arts therapies interventions.History and Foundations of EXA Therapy
This course covers the creation of the EXA field; its history and philosophical foundations from its indigenous and multicultural roots to contemporary practices with individuals, couples, families, groups, and communities. The class focuses on the innate healing power of the creative process in relation to the integrative use of visual arts, music, dance, drama, and imaginal language arts in therapy. We will explore the implications and interplay of EXA therapy within the recovery model of mental health as well as other EXA-based clinical approaches.

Human Development and the Family 

Theories and research in life transitions, stages of development, and rites of passage; from prenatal conditions through adult experience to dying.

Human Sexuality

This course explores personal, interpersonal, and transpersonal dimensions of sexual experience including awareness, attitudes, meaning, expression, response, sexual counseling, and integration with personal development.

The Arts in Therapy 

The Arts in Therapy focuses in-depth on the therapeutic potential of the arts in practice.  The course explores how culture impacts and shapes the definition, experience, and expression of creativity and the arts.  The course takes an in-depth look at how the creative process and engagement through the arts promotes healing.  The use of single art forms as well as the use of integrative arts processes is explored.  You will learn specific interventions that focus on the use of music, drama, visual arts, dance/movement, and written/spoken word, within a larger intermodal/multimodal EXA frame.  Students will develop foundational EXA skills in therapeutic interventions.  Students will deepen their own understanding through engagement in their own arts practice, arts practice groups, and dedicated assignments.

Pre/Post Practicum 

This class provides clinical supervision for Expressive Arts Therapy students in their second year who are working with members of the Glide Memorial Church Community and in other EXA pre-practicum settings.Professional Ethics and Family Law Reviews ethical standards for the practice of counseling and psychology. Review and discussion of ethical and legal aspects of marriage and family therapy and practice.


Psychopathology and Psychological Assessment

This combined course provides a historical, comparative, and contemporary overview of the development and clinical presentation of adult psychopathology and the categorization system of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, along with a survey of the clinical process of testing for both psychopathological structures and non- pathological personality features and traits. The individual counselor's ability to clinically analyze and interpret assessment instruments, including diagnostic tests, will be emphasized.

Psychotherapy Theories and Practices

This is an introduction to traditional and contemporary theories and practices of psychotherapy. We begin by situating the field in relation to its sociocultural, historical, and indigenous roots. We go on to examine contemporary psychodynamic, Jungian, existential-humanistic, cognitive-behavioral, and collaborative approaches; we integrate feminist and multicultural perspectives, addressing intersections with the recovery model. Creative arts-based case examples for various approaches are woven into the fabric of the class.

Research Methods 

This course is designed to provide students with an introduction to the philosophical, conceptual, and practical foundations of qualitative and quantitative research design methodologies. The course will survey the most common designs of arts-based participatory research (ABPR), qualitative inquiry and its theoretical roots, techniques of data collection and analysis, integration of qualitative and quantitative methods, and current issues related to culture and diversity.

Supervised Clinical Practicum: Group

The supervised clinical practicum course provides supervision for for students who are currently working in practicum sites. The emphasis of the course is upon case formulation, the therapeutic relationship, development of clinical skills, and integration of expressive arts processes.

Therapeutic Communication: Foundational Skills

This course provides an overview of key concepts and methods in therapeutic communication, integrating psychodynamic, humanistic, expressive arts, and other approaches. It examines the sociocultural embeddings of therapeutic interactions and ways to work cross-culturally with respect and humility. Experiential portion includes role-play, simulations, and aesthetic response.

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